Thanksgiving Memories – All Good Gifts

2006 -- Nov -- Thanksgiving table

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17

[Adapted from the Archives]

For most of 20 years, we lived in North Africa where a Thanksgiving holiday was a foreign concept. “Eid el Shukr” (“Feast of Thanks” in Arabic) was understood but not a day set aside. We, along with other expat Americans, brought Thanksgiving with us and invited our local friends into the experience. On the surface, American Thanksgiving has pretty much three constant components – food, family, and football.

Back in the States, the old traditions are changing and yet stay sweetly familiar. My Mom, who always laid out an incredible Southern-style feast on the kitchen counter at home in Georgia, is no longer with us. As with some of you, I’m sure, I miss her still every day and how she lavished love on us through these family times together. Our children are grown now and establishing their own traditions with more families and friends added into the mix. Each year, we find ourselves re-working our own traditions as well.

Thanksgiving is again, for us, all about food, family, and football…but there’s also another element…faith… I am grateful every day for the kindnesses of God and those he’s placed in our lives. Celebrating Thanksgiving allows us to put an exclamation point on being grateful. It’s not just about a table full of food, although food is clearly a focal point. Thanksgiving, even as a national holiday and not a religious one, focuses our sight beyond ourselves. There is an object in Thanksgiving beyond ourselves.

Over 30 years ago, a funky little Broadway musical was turned into a film – Godspell. It was an adaptation of the life of Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew. At that time, I was in the season of life that young people pass through of searching out what exactly I believed. It wasn’t going well at that time. Praise God, He did not forget me during those days when I had all but forgotten Him. Watching the film Godspell was one of the occasions God used to wake me up. There’s a wonder and delight in the young followers of Jesus in the musical. It reminded me of what I had once with God…and what could be again.

All the songs in the musical Godspell are lovely. Composer and Lyricist, Stephen Schwartz, beautifully captured some of Jesus’ teaching and the depth of love and rightness between Him, His followers, and creation, in general. All Good Gifts, adapted from an old hymn, is one such song and is a pure and proper doxology of praise for Thanksgiving.

Worship with me.  [Here’s the YouTube video from Godspell to give you the melody.]

All Good Gifts*
We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land..
But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand..
He sends us snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain…
The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain…

All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above
Then thank the Lord, thank the Lord for all his love…

We thank thee then, O Father, for all things bright and good,
The seedtime and the harvest, our life our health our food,
No gifts have we to offer for all thy love imparts
But that which thou desirest, our humble thankful hearts!

All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above..
Then thank the Lord, thank the Lord for all his love..

I really wanna thank you Lord!
All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above..
Then thank the Lord, oh thank the Lord for all his love..

2011 November Thanksgiving Visits 010Food – Family Favorites in Mom’s Kitchen2011 November Thanksgiving Visits 012 a (2)

Football – on T.V. or out on the street with cousins and friends2010 November Thanksgiving in Georgia 204

Family – Time together…savoring every minute2011 November Thanksgiving Visits 015

Happy Thanksgiving…

Oh…just in case Thanksgiving is a struggle…and it isn’t all happy family fun…I pray you take courage and rein in your heart to remember that God sees and loves you. We can be a Thanksgiving blessing to each other…if you’ve read this far…you are a blessing to me. Wish you were at our table…maybe one day you will be. You are definitely welcome at God’s table.

YouTube Video – Take Courage – Kristene DiMarco

*Lyrics and Story Behind the Song – All Good Gifts (Godspell)

YouTube Video – All Good Gifts (Godspell 1990)

YouTube Video Clip – All Good Gifts (Godspell original cast 1973)

Wikipedia article on original hymn/lyric – We Plough the Fields and Scatter (1862)

5 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Memories – All Good Gifts”

  1. An Egyptian neighbor made us a Thanksgiving dinner–turkey stuffed with rice dressing 🙂 when we were in Saudi Arabia. Such a loving gesture. I don’t even know how she knew about Thanksgiving or turkeys.

    1. I have found that Egyptians are some of the most gracious and thoughtful people in the world. That sure was my experience living there. In those days, turkeys were hard to come by. A friend of ours helped a local poultry farmer to market turkeys for sale to American expats at Thanksgiving time. We would order the turkey and would receive it frozen the week of Thanksgiving. It’s funny what you don’t think about if you’re not used to a particular practice. In America, we buy turkeys that have a certain look – ready for the oven and then perfect in appearance for the table. The turkey we received that year looked like it was frozen in full-run mode…all stretched out. When thawed, it still looked like a turkey on the run. No way to re-form it. That’s how it arrived to the table, as well. Legs all stretched out, very awkward looking. Still, it was tasty…and made for a fun memory. Thanks for commenting, Marge. I’m glad you also have a sweet memory from your days in the Middle East. Blessings!

  2. I remember this post and photos. “Playing football with family and friends” — this is a pic of younger versions of Nathan and Stephen playing football in the neighborhood street.

    And then the photo of the thanksgiving dinner spread at your Mom’s home (“Thanksgiving favorites in Mom’s kitchen”) with sweet Stephanie in the photo.

    It is wonderful to see these photos again. Sometimes a friend’s family (yours) is more accessible than my own family.

    My own family was rife with addiction, pain, secrets, and….love — a love that was truly there but was not expressed well due to addiction getting in the way (the post-war martini generation).

    Yesterday, Thanksgiving was a struggle for me. I made it through the day alone with Jesus. Grateful for Him.

    1. Oh Lisa…sometimes life takes strange turns…with costs or hardships to us that we didn’t bring on ourselves. Praying for you and the journey you are on right now. Maybe next Thanksgiving you can spend with us. Love you, Friend.

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