Thoughts From The Heart On Thanksgiving

Fall always has been my favorite season. It stems from growing up on a farm.

I absolutely loved the night when the very first frost was predicted and the whole family would traipse to the garden with boxes and gunny sacks to gather the bounty so it wouldn’t perish from the cold. It was usually windy, damp, cold and miserable, but I looked forward to that night.

We would haul everything into the unheated garage attached to the house where it would be safe from the elements but still in a sort of cooler.

After that came the aroma of tired, shriveled, soggy leaves no longer on the trees but lying on the lawn. Oh, I love their aroma. Then, the burning of logs in a wood stove and the sight of my mother’s apple tree heavy laden with fragrant fruit.

Before we knew it, it was Thanksgiving with all its wonderful kitchen aromas   – roast turkey, stuffing, pumpkin and pecan pie, homemade cranberry sauce, out-of-this-world home grown corn and Mogen David wine.

I’ve often wondered what aromas the early Colonists enjoyed when they celebrated their first Thanksgiving in their new land.

I have learned something I did not know before. Are you ready for a history lesson?

Historians apparently disagree about the different foods that may or may not have been enjoyed at that original Colonial harvest meal, but records show that early settlers of the New World brought with them the treasured Quince fruit.

A display of Quince at Hugo’s on 32nd Avenue South in Grand Forks.

Have you ever heard of a Quince tree? I had not until I happened upon it in an Ideals magazine. In a story by a woman named Lisa Ragan, I learned that the Colonists planted more Quince trees than apple trees after settling here.

My Reader’s Digest Illustrated Encyclopedia Dictionary says the Quince tree is a bushy, fast growing fruit tree which is thought to have originated in central Asia. The fruit has a delicious aroma, but is bitter and hard unless cooked.

It was held sacred by the ancient Greeks, and get this, according to a medieval Christian legend, the Quince was the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

Although we don’t know for sure that the Quince played a part at the very first Thanksgiving feast, it’s been noted that it remained a favorite of the Colonists for many years and that, to this day, it makes excellent pies and preserves.

A Quince is shaped like a pear, but a brighter yellow than a pear. It traveled to the New World with the early Colonists and at the height of popularity here, every garden included at least one Quince tree.

Wouldn’t our families be surprised if we went over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house with a Quince pie in tow?

Well we can do that. I called our local grocers and found out that Hugo’s on 32nd Avenue S., in Grand Forks, has Quince fruit. I think it would be great fun to serve a pie from Colonial times. Then we would be honoring America’s history on the day we give thanks to God for harvest and health.

Have you ever wanted to say thanks to God and wondered how to do it? You can’t send Him a note through the mail. A gift of flowers or candy, a special book or keepsake just won’t do the trick.

When like the Psalmist we are touched by God’s goodness and His hand of help in our hour of need, our hearts are overwhelmed with joy and we long to express our gratitude. This is the time the Bible tells us to give thanks not only through prayer, but with song. But what kind of song says, “thank you,” to God? Oh, there are so many – our old hymns and the newer songs we enjoy in our worship services today.

Some years ago in St. Louis, Mo, I was walking early one morning with my sister when the answer to, “what kind of song says ‘thank you,’ to God,” became clear. In the sky a pair of cardinals swooped over the roof of a house and settled in a treetop. They called to one another with a clear and bright melody – simple bursting forth with the music God created them to make.

And on the West Coast also some years back, we walked along the beach where I heard the crashing rhythm of waves against sand and rock. Different reverberations blended together in harmony. Bird, wind, sea, each performed in perfect pitch the song each was created to sing.

I wondered at that time, “What is the song of ‘my’ thanksgiving? What melody was I created to offer to my Maker?

I thought of the lullabies I sang to my sons when they were babes in the dark of night. I thought of Christmas framed with the haunting tones of “Silent Night,” and Easter mornings resplendent with the ringing chords of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” Each kind of music expresses a different kind of gratitude offered as a heart’s response to God.

A woman who composes music once was asked how she comes up with original melodies.  Her answer: “I think God has already composed every melody. My task is to learn to listen well enough to hear it. When I do that, I discover the words  He wants me to write down.”

That composer found the secret to her song of thankfulness – listening to the music God fills and surrounds her with.

Like the birds and the sea, we respond to the movement of God in our lives. We learn to listen as He strengthens and protects us, as He blesses us with His presence and then we burst forth with our own songs of thanksgiving.

The music of Thanksgiving takes on as many forms as there are lives to sing it. For some it will be a loud song of triumph, for others the quiet murmur of meditation. Some will sing in chorus, others in melody.

This Thanksgiving, I hope you will let your heart find its own song of gratitude as you consider the blessings God has given you. Among your blessings, have you chosen one for which you are especially thankful, or do you have so many you are unable to decide which is greatest?

As I get older, I understand more and more that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness – the pure air we breathe and the strength to breathe it; the warmth and shelter of our homes, family and friends, food which strengthens, the bright sunshine on a cold day, a cool breeze when it’s sweltering.

I close with bits and pieces to ponder:

·         A joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful
·         Gratitude is the sign of a noble soul
·         Gratitude takes three forms: a feeling in the heart, an expression in words, a giving in return
·         A grateful thought toward heaven is of itself a prayer
·         Even the hen lifts her head toward heaven when swallowing her grain
·         Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation
·         And – always, always, remember the day’s blessings and forget the day’s troubles

Happy Thanksgiving!

Until Soon