I remember the fun at school near Thanksgiving time having construction paper to draw things about Thanksgiving and I always drew turkeys with their tail feathers raised in a fan-like shape, and always colored each feather a different color, you’d think I had never seen a real-life turkey. I can close my eyes and smell the mimeograph ink on the sheets with the printed pictures and if it had been possible to get high by sniffing those sheets I guess I would have because I loved the way they smelled! These were usually pictures of the Pilgrims and Indians having dinner and I took care to color all the food appetizing colors, yeah I’m sure of it, says my older self-looking back. I remember being so excited because as soon as church was over on Wednesday night my parents would pack us into the car and we would drive to “Mama and them’s” house, and if you are from the South you know you always said it that way too. Mama always had things ready for us and her house would be full because besides our family my mother’s two married sisters and their families and my Uncle and his family were always there.
The “adults’ would gather in the living room and talk and laugh for most of the night and no matter how much hilarity was going on when it got time for “little daddy” (my grandfather if you haven’t been reading me long enough to know) to go to bed he would stand and run his tapered fingers through his hair leaving it standing on end, which was too funny for us not to giggle about, and say “Now children it’s time for us to pray”, which immediately quieted everyone down as they settled into kneeling positions leaning against the most comfortable place they could find knowing that little daddy’s prayers could sometimes go on for a long time as he enumerated all the blessings we had seen and then prayers for all the people who might have had a request. You knew he was getting closed to the end of the prayer when he would say “God we thank you that we haven’t lost one member of our family” and then pray for God to send the “world wide end-time revival”, world without end, Amen.
I watched a video my sister posted of my own dad teaching on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving 2007. He looked into the camera and quoted Psalm 100, which is the first scripture I ever committed to memory back when I was six-years of age. As he spoke the words I began to cry wishing that I could reach into the computer screen and touch his face, but what I felt was thankful that I have a heritage of which I can be proud.
Both my maternal and paternal grandfathers were wonderful men of God. My mother’s dad never went past the second grade in school because he had to quit and help plow the fields on the family farm in South Georgia. He would tell us how he would cry as he watched other children walk to school and vowed that he would make sure his children got an education, that from an eight-year old boy was lofty thinking wasn’t it? But this un-educated man became one of the top men in his church’s organization, he met with several of the Presidents of the United States and was served “high tea” by Wallis Simpson whom Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward Vlll, abdicated his throne to marry. In that meeting he explained the way the church tithed on a voluntary basis and this important man sat and listened and was so impressed that the people did that and wondered how wonderful it would be if the country could be run that way. His list of attributes goes on and on.
But then there is my other grandfather who came to this country, as a twelve-year old boy in a cattle boat to escape being slaughtered by the Turkish Muslims who were beheading and skinning alive people who claimed to be Christians, and they are continuing to do that today. He made a good living without ever accepting government help and both he and my grandmother were very proud to become tax-paying citizens of this great country. They raised five boys and a daughter who all went on to become ministers and the daughter the wife of a minister. My Pop was known as one who spoke prophetically and indeed he spoke into my life many things that came to pass.
The heritage that my grandparents and my own parents gave to me, my wonderful children, grandchildren and many wonderful friends, I have so much for which to be thankful and I just wanted to say it out loud. Happy Thanksgiving week!