Giving Thanks isn’t New
Giving thanks for the simple things isn’t a new concept. Yet the Pilgrims took it to heart. Thanksgiving was originally designed as a feast to celebrate the first successful corn harvest. I imagine in addition to freshly grown food, the Pilgrims were also giving thanks for a ‘cornucopia’ of other things. Survival being at the top of the list.
More than likely they were silently giving thanks for the Abenaki Indian who first approached them. And for Squanto, who taught them some of the very basic survival skills in their new land.
We really don’t have a clue as to what the first menu was. We are fairly certain there was some type of fowl and deer meat. Those pies, cakes and other tasty desserts were more than likely not a part of that feast. History tells us that most of the sugar had seriously dwindled while spending their first winter on board the boat. In other words, the meal was probably simple, yet definitely home grown.
Our First Thanksgiving on the Farm
Our first Thanksgiving on the farm wasn’t even close to the hardships the Pilgrims suffered. We did, however, experience some of the same emotional ups and downs. We were moving into an area where we didn’t know the natives, much less if they were friendly or savage.
Our first winter gave new meaning to cold. In the city, we were accustomed to central heat and air. On the Farm, our only heat was a wood stove in the kitchen and a fireplace in the living room. Let’s just say our first winter took some serious adjusting.
We had grown a garden before, but never on such a large scale. And livestock was just foreign. But we muddled through, in a big part due to the ‘natives’. Our neighbors were much friendlier than we could have hoped for.
I have found myself giving thanks for all kinds of things, each and every day. I thank God for the big things and the little things, and even the hard and painful things.
What surprises me most is I am often giving thanks for as many intangible items as I am the tangible. Giving thanks for the simple things is easier than you think:
Giving Thanks for My six senses – Hearing, Smell, Taste, Feel, Sight and ESP –
There is just nothing better than hearing the sound of chickens contentedly clucking around before the sun comes up. It is an equally soothing sound to listen to the cows lowing a lullaby as I go to sleep at night.
It is music to my ears to hear the symphony of Nature as the wind blows through the trees and the bullfrogs singing by the pond at sunset. I love the smell of a wood fire in the fall and the fresh country air in the spring. There is something relaxing about the smell of sun and wind dried sheets at night. And to get a whiff of fresh biscuits coming out of the oven in the morning is sheer ecstasy.
The taste of fresh vegetables that you grew yourself is incomparable. To feel the sweet but acidic taste of a tomato straight off the vine is heavenly.
It doesn’t matter if it is raining, sunny or even barely light or dark, I love the vision of my pasture and farm at all times of the day. Early sunrise and late evening sunset will find me standing in my pasture, looking up at all the beautiful colors of the sky.
One of my favorite mental images of God is with Him wearing a beret. In His hands is an artist’s palette. I can just imagine Him as he paints those unmatchable oranges, reds, lavender, purples and blues.
And I am never more appreciative of my sense of ESP than when I am milking and am able to anticipate by barely a second of when Bossy is about ready to kick.
It’s also amazing to me to find that I am so often tuned in to my farm life that I can sense when something just isn’t right, and immediately head outside (or inside, whichever the case may be) to see what’s off balance.
Giving Thanks for Life –
Day to day activities seem to render you forgetful of the fact that you have to be alive to be experiencing them. The Country Boy and I both thank God each and every morning for giving us another day to live. We have relatively good health, so we are able to endure some of the physical labor on the farm.
We also have the ability to appreciate the good days and the bad days, if for no other reason but because we are alive.
Giving Thanks for a Farming University –
The Country Boy has a saying: “If you aren’t learning something new every day, you just aren’t paying attention.” He’s right about that. Each and every day there is something new to be learned, or a lesson to be expanded on, whether you live in the city or country.
I have learned so much out here. A lot of what I learn is from books and studying, but the majority of it has been from on-the-job-training. There is just no book out there that tells you how to deal with calves who know how to break in to the house looking for their breakfast, and I have yet to see anything on the internet telling me how to deal with the heartbreak of losing an animal.
Giving Thanks for Small Favors –
Like when the pot of Apple Butter decides to boil over and drip all over the stove, yet not a drop lands in the burner. It’s hard enough to clean all the sticky off of the stove and grates, but when you have to try and get it out of those small burner holes, it’s a real pain.
Giving Thanks for Aprons –
The Country Boy accuses me of making such a big mess in the kitchen that there is actually flour on the ceiling. Although I’m not quite that bad, I really am thankful I wear aprons, rather than having to change my clothes two or three times a day when I’m cooking. I am also thankful for the aprons I wear outside, as chicken poop and cow manure have a tendency to stain….
Giving Thanks for Dreams and Goals –
I cannot imagine my life without these two items. I am forever dreaming about getting something that will improve our farm or make a chore quicker and easier.
Right now, I’m dreaming of a milking machine and an outdoor kitchen. In order to make this farm as sustainable as possible, we have a list of both goals and dreams. The Goals list incorporates things that we know we can do, we just have to either have the time, money or materials to make it happen.
The Dreams list has items on it that might be nice one day, but are either cost prohibitive in the near future, or they require more research before we decide if we need or want it.
And, of course, there are things on that list that will probably never happen – like me owning two of the prized Budweiser Clydesdales that Anheuser-Busch has offered to just GIVE to me. And deliver them, to boot. (Budweiser? Are you reading this???)
Giving Thanks for Family, Friends and Neighbors –
I learned a long time ago that each and every person you encounter has something to offer you, and very likely something to teach you. Whether it is a simple smile and ‘hello’ or a long-term relationship, if you are paying close attention, each person you encounter has given you something or taught you something.
That person you just passed that smiled at you taught you that a simple smile is a kindness given, and well worth passing along to someone else. It lifts your spirits, if only for a second. It teaches you, if in a small way, to benefits of being kind to others.
Your family, friends and neighbors all have something to offer – whether it is encouragement and support, or how to lend a helping hand. We are forever helping out our neighbors, and they are forever helping us.
There isn’t enough money in this world to pay for the friends and neighbors we have out here. Nor will there ever be.
Giving Thanks The Old Ways –
I am so grateful for my older friends and family who learned early in life the old ways of doing things – preserving food, making soap and just generally, making do. I have not only learned how to sew, knit, can and cook, but I’ve also learned that ‘new and improved’ does not often mean ‘better’.
The more I do, the more I learn to appreciate these old crafts and lifestyles, and have adopted many of them. I will say I will pass on farming with draft horses, hauling water from the creek and using an outhouse. But it is reassuring to know that if I had to in order to survive, I could actually do it.
Now, I need to read up on How to make Caustic Soda out of Ashes. I really don’t want to ever have to go without a bath at night!
This year, when you sit down to that Thanksgiving feast and bow your head to offer the Blessing, think a minute about all those things you take for granted – and offer up a special thank you for those things.
While you are sitting around visiting after dinner, take a good look at those around you. Celebrate your similarities, and learn from your differences. And when you lay your head down that night, giving thanks will be easy. Thank God for your life, and for all the small and simple things you enjoy each and every day.
I know I will be thanking God for each of you. And I’ll take the time now to thank each and every one of you for all the lessons you have taught me, all the smiles and encouragement you have given me and for the chance to get to know you in the first place. I couldn’t do any of this without you.
More Fun Posts on Giving Thanks!
Be sure to stop by and visit with Annie at 15 Acre Homestead to see why she is thankful!