Over-the-top love at “Thanks-Gratitude 2012”

With David, Thanks-gratitude…

t doesn’t matter how hard I try, I always end up getting a little emotional at our Friday Thanks-Gratitude celebration.

Here’s how it goes: a crowd gathers in the kitchen and living area (this time it happened to be 28) and I call everyone to attention for welcome, instructions, and a few words from the hosts.

I’m deliberate, careful; I choose just a few words to share. But it’s too difficult to compete with the torrent of love and faithfulness that fills the room, and so I am taken off at the knees – every time – by the volume of it and I can hardly utter a word of welcome let alone say what I want to.

A slice of the action

And Rebekah rescues me, saying exactly what I’m thinking; we go back and forth, filling in the gaps. And eventually I stumble around my idea that Thanksgiving – at its best – is sacramental. And I want to say that I miss my brother, Geoff, but Rebekah has to say it for me.

BLESSING: We bless the food. People, more people than possible, line up and fill their plates. And it is bountiful; and it is good; and it is too much. The goodness and the bounty and the love are invasive, they won’t let up, and they always seem to make me cry.

So I hold my grandson, David Henry. And he represents in that moment the beauty of love and the power of being a family. And I agree with my sister-in-law Heather, who says that she is thankful for the intentionality of this family, thankful for the fact that we all go out of our way to make sure we are connected, and loved, and invited, and welcomed, and that we are together in every way possible.

Fun with Naomi and David

That family-ness spills over to guests, like Lacey’s boyfriend, Rick, and Mona and Gabi from church (Jason is in Afghanistan), and Myrt’s sister, Velva. And the regulars, and the extras, and the cousins, and the nieces and nephews, and the parents, and the siblings, and the neighbors; we all blend together because we are all one.

We are one in terms of being grateful, even if we don’t exactly understand; and the thanks brings us together, especially through our knowing that love is the root of it all. And God smiles, because God knows that this awareness of being thankful brings us all closer to his nature of love.

Rebekah reading with Liam and Micah

THANKS-something/everything: And so I call this ThanksGiving Thanks-Gratitude; or Thanks-Bountiful; or Thanks-Lovefest; or Thanks-Sharing.

The crowd eventually thins down until it is just Rebekah and me, and the Naomi-Graig-David family, and the Jesse-Heather-Jordan-Seth-Jared-Sarah-Lindsay conglomerate to spend the night. The boys pitch a tent in the back garden, and various Alexanders camp out on various pieces of floor around the house. I honestly couldn’t tell you where everyone bunks down. But they do, and the household sleeps, and there is peace in the house.

PANCAKES! This morning there is a mini-revolt when I dare to suggest I skip making my famous buttermilk pancakes in favor of bowls of cereal. The very idea!

That’s right, I have their attention!

So I make pancakes; lots and lots of them. The nieces and nephews all crowd around, watching intently, like so many vultures waiting anxiously for their food. But it isn’t the perfect, golden brown hotcakes that draw them in so much as the understanding that I am making them all, from scratch, especially for each one of them and because I love them and because – as Heather pointed out – of the intentionality of being family.

QUIET: By 11:30 the house is quiet. Empty. Even Scout has gone to the church with Rebekah. But there’s an echo; there’s something still reverberating in the soul of our home; there’s life, undiluted and unconstrained.

The Jesse Alexander family, plus Lindsay

This is why I say that Thanksgiving at its best is sacramental. Take; eat; drink; share; repeat. Love. Repeat.

“Do all of this,” Jesus says, “because you belong to me.”


  1. Beautiful. I think you have truly put into words why Thanksgiving is such an important holiday. We all say it is because we gather together with those we love to enjoy a wonderful meal and each other’s company but it is so much more. It is indeed Sacramental.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s