It’s a Chili Thanksgiving

IMG_4111 (3)For Thanksgiving this year, we’re having chili. Venison chili. A little weird, I know, but at least the turkey’s happy. For now…

Like many families with adult children, it’s a juggling act to get everyone together for a sit-down Thanksgiving dinner. Last year, my son and his girlfriend showed up five minutes before I put the turkey on the table, and then an hour later they were off to her house for her family gathering. Ditto for my daughter and her fiancé. They didn’t even have time for dessert.

So this year, when my daughter announced that she and her husband were going to the Detroit Lions game on Thanksgiving Day—a family tradition on her husband’s side—I could already envision Thanksgiving dinner. My husband, youngest son, and father-in-law would help me carry bowls and platters from the kitchen, all filled with traditional Thanksgiving fare. I’d frown at the four empty chairs around the table and then start when my son and his girlfriend plowed through the door. And because they couldn’t stay long, we’d wolf down our meal while he and his girlfriend picked at theirs (since they had to tackle Thanksgiving Dinner #2 in a few hours). Again, they’d decline dessert, kiss us goodbye, and flit back out the door.

I love my husband and youngest son and father-in-law, but Thanksgiving should be a time when loved ones gather together. A time to talk and laugh and bask in the warmth of family. A time to thank God for His faithful provision and care. A time to stuff yourself silly, and when you can’t eat another bite, top it off with dessert.  A time to clean up the kitchen together, take a post-feast snooze on the couch, and then spend the rest of the afternoon in contented family tranquility. And when the shadows of dusk finally darken the windows, only then will everyone yawn and stretch and begin a lazy search for coats. They all leave with smiles, containers of leftovers, and the comfort of a full stomach and a day well spent.

Now that’s Thanksgiving.

So this year, I announced that we’d have our family Thanksgiving on November 29. A Friday Thanksgiving, when we could all be together without rushing or stressing or driving hither and yon.chili-con-carne-378952_1920

And on November 28, instead of sitting around the table and eating turkey, I, my husband, son, and father-in-law will sit around the TV, watching the Lions football game and eating chili. I won’t mind one bit waiting an extra day to celebrate Thanksgiving.

And I’m sure the turkey won’t mind waiting, either.

On this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for all of you, my dear, dear readers. May our big God bless you with a wonderful and bountiful Thanksgiving!

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Wedding Chronicles Part II: The Dramatic…………….Pause

brideI had suggested to my daughter that, when her matron of honor and the best man took their places with the wedding party, she pause for a moment  before she began her walk up the aisle.

But this was ridiculous.

Time and my heart ticked away. After a minute had passed, I pivoted in my chair and tried to see over the rows of guests behind me as I told myself not to panic.

Where in the world was the bride?

wedding bells

I cast another questioning glance at the pastor, who stood up front. Since he had an unobstructed view down the aisle, he’d told me he would nod at me when the double doors to the reception hall opened, revealing my waiting daughter and husband. Then, as the mother of the bride, I would stand, which would signal the other guests to also rise, and my husband would escort the bride onto the manicured lawn and up the aisle to the breathless groom.

But instead of a nod, the pastor made a patting motion with his palm to the ground, telling me to remain seated.

I bit my lip and came to a decision. If another minute passed without a trace of the blushing bride, I’d hike up the hem of my floor-length dress, jog down the aisle, and plow through those double doors to see what was wrong. While the instrumental music continued to play and I continued to fidget, my mind raced through possible reasons for the delay.

Runaway bride?

No way. I’d never seen anyone so excited to get married. All day long, my daughter had been bouncing and laughing. Her hair was perfect, her make-up flawless. After the florist delivered her flowers to the bridal suite, I’d watched her finger her bouquet and coo about how lovely the burgundy flowers wrapped in a rose-gold bow would look with her bridal gown. That girl couldn’t wait to walk up the aisle—not only to marry to the man she loved, but also so she could feel like a princess. 

Was it my fault?

Maybe she’d misunderstood what I’d told her at the wedding rehearsal the previous evening. “Remember, you’re the bride,” I’d said. “Everyone’s going to be craning their necks to catch that first glimpse of you walking up the aisle, so don’t be afraid to pause before you open those double doors. You know, to build up the suspense.”

I’d only meant for her to wait ten or fifteen seconds after the matron of honor and best man took their places up front. But maybe she was standing behind those doors, hanging onto my husband’s arm, and telling him, “Wait! Wait! I’m building suspense here!”

I looked at the pastor again. Still no nod.

Then I realized the instrumental music was still playing, and it occurred to me. Could the D.J. be the problem?

“I know exactly what song I want at my wedding,” my daughter had told me a week after her engagement. “I’ve dreamed of going up the aisle to this song. It’s perfect!” She had it all planned out. Her fiancé’s mother, I, and the bridal party, would come up the aisle to the piano-and-strings-instrumental version of her song. Then, the D.J. would segue into the version where the artist sings.

“When the first verse begins, that’s when I start up the aisle.” My daughter pointed a finger at me. “And I’m not moving until I hear the singing begin.” She closed her eyes and sighed. “It’ll be so great.”

Since the instrumental version was still playing, I now imagined my daughter standing behind those double doors and ignoring my husband’s pleas that it was time to go. She’d have her arms crossed and her lips pursed. “I’m supposed to walk up the aisle to the first verse, and I absolutely, positively refuse to budge until I hear some singing!”

But whatever the reason, another minute had come and gone; it was time to do something. I took a deep breath, turned to the pastor to indicate that I was going to check on the bride…

And saw him nod.

I sprang to my feet and spun to face the back. Finally, standing in the open double doors, were my beaming husband and daughter.

Right on cue, the artist began singing. The other guests stood, and we all watched my husband escort my beautiful daughter up the aisle to her patient fiancé. Before God and us, they became man and wife, and we applauded when the new husband kiss his bride.

After my husband and I followed the bridal party down the aisle, he squeezed my arm. “Know what took so long?”

He chuckled and shook his head. “So the last of the wedding party goes out. The doors close, and we’re standing there with the event coordinator. The event coordinator is getting ready to open the double doors again and says, ‘Ready?’ After we both answer ‘Yes!’ the event coordinator smiles at our daughter and then gets this funny look on her face. And she asks, ‘Where is your bouquet?’ “

The princess had forgotten her flowers in the bridal suite.wedding bouquet clipart

While my daughter wrung her hands and my husband kept her calm, the event coordinator took instant action. In a sprint that would have impressed Usain Bolt (particularly because she was wearing a skirt and dress shoes), she raced across the reception room, through the long hallway, and down the stairs to the lower level. At the door to the locked bridal suite, she whipped out keys like an Old-West gunslinger, unlocked the door, and grabbed the bouquet. Then she relocked the door and scampered back up the stairs, through the hallway and reception room, and finally delivered the bouquet to the relieved and grateful bride. Without pausing to catch her breath, the event coordinator yanked open the double doors, gave the bride a panting grin, and watched my daughter begin the journey up the aisle—one hand on her father’s arm, one hand clutching her bouquet—to a new and wonderful life.

wedding couple with heart

What does this story have to do with our big God? Well, we were blessed with a caring (and fast!) event coordinator. Also, thanks to “The Dramatic Pause,” my daughter’s walk up the aisle was definitely memorable. And she did indeed look like a princess. 

Besides, I think we made God laugh.

wedding bouquet

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