It was Thanksgiving Eve 1987 maybe 1988. We were hosting the family Thanksgiving that year. We lived in a large country house and all the family was coming in to celebrate. Lois had her apron on and the house was warm with light and fragrant with cooking smells. The Methodists and the Baptists in the little village of Brandon where we lived joined together each year for a Thanksgiving Eve Service. The church that hosted the service would extend an invitation to the pastor of the other to preach each year. The churches were full every year for the service. We were hosting that year. The Methodist pastor would preach.
The Baptists and the Methodists alike were farm people or they came from farm people or their livelihoods depended on the farm economy so on Thanksgiving Eve they gathered together and they simply gave thanks. There were prayers and hymns, poems, readings, songs and a Thanksgiving message. It was a beautiful tradition, one I often wish I could revisit.
That night a little after dark Lois discovered that she had forgotten something important, something without which Thanksgiving could simply not go on as planned. There was no other way about it. I was not preaching. I would need to go to town. It was Thanksgiving Eve but I must confess I grumbled while I got my coat and walked out to the car. I put on my coat and pulled by collar up around my neck against the cold.
I had an old, green Dodge Aspen. It was as basic as they come. AM radio. I put the heater to work. Halfway to town the warmth began to flow from beneath the dash of the old Dodge. I tuned the crackling radio to 700 WLW, the radio voice of my childhood. To this day I remember the sense of warm well-being that swept over me that night in the car on the way to town. I was anticipating the Thanksgiving Eve service and the arrival of the family. The announcer intoned, “Stay with us here at WLW, we will be with you all the way to your grandma’s back porch tonight.” Wet snow fell. The windshield wipers push it to the side. The Christmas lights shone along the streets of Mt. Vernon.
Years have passed now. We moved to Michigan. AM Radio seems a relic of the past. I think the Baptists in Brandon and the Methodists continue their tradition. I hope they do. The kids are grown all eight of them and all have homes and families of their own. Still our hearts are thankful and we cherish the memories of those little humans that came along every couple years for almost two decades. They filled our home with noise and life and our hearts with joy. Still I close my eyes and I can see the faces of the good people who gathered in the churches that night to give public thanks to God for another year of bounty and blessing. The family will gather tomorrow. We will share a meal and ask God for his protection and thank Him for his goodness again.
Sometimes on a cold night the warmth of the collar of my coat, the air pouring from beneath the dash of my car, the sight of “Grandma Lois” in her apron, stir up my thankful heart once again.
Bless you all. Bless you with a thankful heart.
Thanksgiving Eve 2020