To me the ultimate feeling of well-being is sitting down to a holiday meal with the family all around the table. It is especially sweet at Thanksgiving. No one cooks for you quite like your own wife. Over the years your tastes move in the direction of her gifts and her dishes move in the direction of your preferences. After a couple decades you meet in the middle and prefer her cooking over just about anyone.
Lois is a wonderful homemaker, a good cook, and an exceptional nurturing mom. There are times when the table is laden with good food, the children she has borne to me are all around the table, the house is fragrant with spicy baking smells and bathed with candle glow. At times like that I find it impossible to hold back tears of deep happiness and gratitude. Lois knows how to make a home beautiful, warm, personal, and comfortable. I love sharing it with her and being there with the children.
Once we were talking about that and she told me of a Thanksgiving Day memory she had. In her memory she was standing in the door of the house and looking up and down the street. All the driveways were lined with cars. She was eating a peanut butter sandwich for Thanksgiving dinner. She thought how nice it would be to have family in and enjoy a big meal with her family all together.
But that never happened. The little house never hosted a holiday feast. No one was ever invited over for dinner. It wasn’t really that there was no money for food. Lois’ mother had a good job at Ford Motor Company that paid well and included generous benefits. Her mother worked hard and sacrificed for her children to have nice things. They were able to buy their own modest home. But it was a troubled home.
The family had reluctantly moved from the beautiful mountains of their native Kentucky to a city in the north where factory jobs were abundant. They were also trying to shake off troubling difficulty that threatened their home and happiness. Lois’ dad struggled with alcoholism all his life. It eventually led to his early death. He was a hard working man, but could not hold a job because of the hold alcohol had on him. The adjustment from a rural village where everyone knew and trusted everyone to a cold, urban industrial community was difficult for the whole family. It was especially difficult for Lois’ older brother and her Dad.
Her Dad’s behavior was unpredictable so they learned to discourage people from stopping by and they never invited anyone over. This was a source of great humiliation for them. As a result Thanksgiving was not a special holiday for them. It was time off school and work, and a time to be together, but it was not a time for the family to come in or even a time to enjoy sitting down to a meal around the same table.
When I look down to the other end of the table into the deep brown eyes of my wife and the mother of eight beautiful happy children, I think of the little girl standing in the door eating a peanut butter sandwich for Thanksgiving dinner. In her little heart was a desire for a secure happy Christian home, and in my heart I renew my vow to build that kind of home with her.