The trip from Lone Grove to Madill seemed to have taken days. I was so full and so sleepy from sitting around with my gut stuffed for the last 4 hours. Thanksgiving at the In-Laws was going to be very different this year. Jake’s dad had to work on Thanksgiving day, and we would not be able to see Jake’s sister, husband, or our nieces and nephews. In Thanksgivings past, we would all be together, gathered around the table with the kiddos at their own “kid” table. Jennifer and I would get the cups ready and write all of our names on the white Styrofoam. Jake, Jeff, and Steve would be watching football, and all six of the kids would be running around like crazy. My mom-in-law always broke out the “good” china on Thanksgiving that was given to her by her mom-in-law. With a glimmer in her eye she would reflect on how she and her mom-in-law, Sybil, would get the china out of the cabinet, and wash the plates before the meal, and wash and put em up again when the meal was over. We would all laugh at Jeff as he would scream out “SALT” when the rest of us were quiet and eating.
This year however, we came in after dark, and was greeted by Jake’s mom, Maribeth, and Maribeth alone. His dad was still at work, and Jenni and her family had come over for lunch that day, so we had missed them. The leftovers from their meal were all set out, waiting on us. We laughed and talked until Jeffro (my nickname for Jeff) got there and we began to heat up the leftovers. The kids sat at the table and took bites off their plates then would run off and play, then come back for more. The adults sat in the living room, and ate turkey leftovers watching the Antiques Road Show. After our supper, we chatted and watched Jake play with the kids. I broke out the family albums, and marveled at how much Zeek looks like his Daddy when he was younger. Jake and his parents reminisced over the crazy things he did as a young boy, and I listened and laughed, a bit afraid of what my son will do to me as he grows older. The kids missed their cousins, and I missed my sister-in-law, but we still had that time, and a bit of our traditions there at Jake’s parents house.
When we got home, we put the kids to bed and Jake and I began to sort through the cash Jake would take with him when he left to go midnight shopping with his mom, another tradition that was a little topsy turvy this year. Jake’s parents usually do the Black Friday thing together but this year, due to the “mega sales” and my extreme fear of large crowds, Jake and my brave mom-in-law went together. When he left, I went to sleep thinking of how much things at the Hudson Thanksgiving had changed this year. I began to think about how everything had changed this year and how things will continue to change as we go throughout our lives. People are born, people pass on, kids grow taller, I grow wider (pointed out to me at my Nana and Papa’s house earlier that day), and people get married. Throughout all of this change, I do know that the Lord our God will never change. Malachi 3:6 states, “For I am the Lord, I do not change.” Things were a little off this year as I said earlier, but it made me even more thankful to the fact that we do have a constant in this life, and everything else revolves around this constant. Above all else this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the Lord’s mercy and grace that he gives to his children. This grace gets us through the changes that we may experience in life, and this grace ultimately places us in heaven with our unchangeable Father. Thanksgiving may have been off tradition this year at the in-laws, but it reminded me that “The Lord is good, His mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1) And that life happens, things do not always go as planned, but in the chaos, we have a firm foundation, a foundation that is immovable and unchangeable, and for that, I am thankful.