Monday, November 26, 2012

'Tis a Gift to Be Simple

The stars aligned this year for us to experience a different kind of Thanksgiving that will likely be one we'll remember for a long time.

*We didn't get together with family (because we're spending extra-good time together in a few days celebrating my mom's 60th birthday...woo-hoo can't wait!).

*We didn't get together with friends (a few options came and went).

*We have three vegetarian children that politely prefer not to witness a turkey roasting.

*We had almost-California weather (high of 54 degrees--about as close as we may ever get to November paradise in the Midwest).

So...all in a flash on Wednesday afternoon, we brainstormed, took a vote, and decided to simplify in a very literal way. The result was a random attempt at a more Pilgrim-like Thanksgiving (minus the turkey).

We pitched a tent in the back yard and started a camp fire.

Brent read Bible stories using only the light of our flames. (My camera flash makes it looks bright. But it wasn't. He had to squint.) The girls felt like Mary, Laura, Carrie, and Grace Ingalls and therefore Brent and I felt like Pa and Ma.

Then Pa snuggled up with all but the littlest pilgrim (and I) in the supposed-to-be-8-man-but-there's-no-way-we'd-all-squeeze-in-there-and-sleep-comfortably-tent. The morning stories revealed that it was a wild and restless night.

When the sun finally rose high in the sky again, flag football with some friends was on the agenda. The Pilgrims and Natives must have enjoyed a friendly game of that back in the day. I wonder who won.

After a few touchdowns and tackles, the morning was a success. Cienna, MaryAnn, and I even got to watch this year because we weren't home peeling potatoes.

Allison enjoyed "rushing" the ball back to the quarterback on several occasions. We cheered for her.

Our Thanksgiving feast consisted of simple foods around the campfire: Omlets in a Bag for breakfast (stick eggs and whatever else in a zip lock bag, boil in a pot of water, and voila! easy campfire meal with no clean-up. We know the Pilgrims probably didn't have handy zip lock bags, but we still felt a sense of adventure.)

And for Thanksgiving Dinner (drum roll......) 

Tin Foil Dinners.
(aka choice of potatoes, carrots, peppers, stuffing, chicken, and/or cheese in double-wrapped tin foil and warmed on an open fire)

To add some sugar and spice to the meal, Kirsti made apple cider and Diggy whipped up a delicious peach cobbler in the dutch oven. 

Our vegetarian turkey looked like this (copied from one of Aunt Dana's inspiring creations ...even the meat-eating kids loved it!): 

Kenny, like a true Pilgrim, made an apple pie from scratch. Something I have never done. It was very yummy

The girls were excited to test out the "rock" table on the back patio...

but it started pouring just as dinner finished sizzling.

So we used our real table instead....with no china, no table cloth, no centerpiece (and very few dishes to do afterwards). And we were still in our smoke-aroma sweats. I wish touch screens were scratch 'n sniff...campfire smells carry such memories through the air.   

The above pic is the dutch oven cobbler feast, including a can of whipping cream, which we are certain the pilgrims didn't have...but it was the perfect modern touch. (That's why I'm so excited.)  

At the end of the day, we missed family and friends and we will likely never celebrate like this again, but it was an honor to pay tribute to our forefathers whose tummies and hearts must have been so full of simple pleasure on that first Thanksgiving. 

The week before Thanksgiving, our church choir sang a medley that included "'Tis a Gift to be Simple" originally written by a Shaker named Elder Joseph Brackett in 1848. The words are beautiful and have deep meaning for me (because they're so applicable to parenting, brain science, etc). The tune is contagious and we found ourselves passing it randomly amongst ourselves amidst the fire and food prep on Thanksgiving Day. It was very fitting for the occasion.

I took a minute to Google the words and paste them here for your enjoyment and pondering:

Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.

'Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
'Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we'll all live together and we'll all learn to say,


'Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
'Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of "me",
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we'll all live together with a love that is real.


Tis the gift to be loving, tis the best gift of all
Like a quiet rain it blesses where it falls
And with it we will truly believe
Tis better to give than it is to receive

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