“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”
I don’t know when it started.
At some point I began the tradition around our Thanksgiving table of joining hands and singing our gratitude and grace back to God. I know at first I was gleefully chided by our children: “NO SINGING AT DA TABO!” Yet as each year passed and they saw God’s hand at work in our family’s lives, they realized that this would be our Thanksgiving legacy: before the sharing of a sumptuous meal and the inevitable laughing, goofy time of table games came our singing the blessing.
No matter what had happened that year, no matter who sat with us around our table, all were included as we grabbed hands next to us and raised our voices in a mutual, “Thank You, God” with a verse and chorus of this timeless hymn of the church.
Maybe it was our third Thanksgiving in Tucson, AZ. It couldn’t have been the second; we spent that one apart while I was deployed to Alaska.
It might’ve been that bleak Thanksgiving in Oklahoma City when surrounded by total strangers trying to make yet another transient couple from the FAA academy feel at home.
Or maybe it was that initial icy late November Thursday in our first pastoral charge. Everything there was old: buildings, people, habits and attitudes. The only thing new there was us four Boones. We literally had less than nothing, for had we not had GI Bill benefits, we’d have starved. As with every life chapter, there’s more to that story. Much more. We chose to be thankful.
Seminary? Pineville, LA? Perhaps when we became Kansans?
I don’t know when it started. I do know that since then, wherever we’ve been and no matter the circumstances, every Thanksgiving since then has had singing our blessing in common.
Why? Why? Because no matter what the circumstances, GOD HAS ALWAYS BEEN FAITHFUL TO US.
Our three are all grown now. Our grandchildren are within a year or two of graduating high school. Our family has grown, too, expanding out to wherever they now live. We’ve encouraged them to establish their own traditions for each of their homes; after all, the weather and cost of travel can and often does get in the way.
We are enjoying the Thanksgiving meal this year in the home of one of the kids’ parents. At first I felt the keen edge of disappointment, knowing that for the first time in many years there would be no singing around our big, scarred, tough table.
Then I thought of you.
Through social mediums such as Facebook, so many of us have reconnected across long decades of individual living. Every one of you has a life story I’d love to hear. School classmates, friends from childhood, family friends from across the years, friends from churches, professional colleagues–all of you comprise a rich, ever-spreading tapestry of relationships. We cherish every one of you, no matter how long it’s been.
Some of you will be sitting down with loved ones close by with plenty of food for all. Some of you will be on the road, pulling off just long enough to let a nasty storm pass and to grab a turkey-with-all-the-fixin’s dinner with folks you don’t know but are willing to include you anyway. Some of you will pull some extra hours getting cold and wet, helping keep utilities as uninterrupted as possible; and yet others out keeping driving surfaces winterized and clear.
Some of you will be in uniform.
- . . . in scrubs, covering for others, carrying the trauma pagers, grabbing a bite or two at a time from Thanksgiving fare brought in by off-duty staff and thoughtful others who’ve been there. . .
- . . . with a badge and weapon, keeping unsafe, mean streets a little more honest by your presence. You’ll sit down to somebody’s turkey and dressing, expecting at any time to be interrupted by duty. . .
- . . . part of an engine company and rescue crew. Your meal will be interrupted. The only question is when and how often.
- . . . in bdu’s or flight suits, scattered wherever stationed, serving and taking your turn protecting and defending everything for which we give our thanks.
Others of you may find yourself alone, either by design or default. Some of you are absent by choice for reasons only you can address. Others of you may be by yourself because that’s just the way life is for you right now, and you just happened to read this because somebody who received it printed it out and left it laying there.
To each of you: picture yourself finding a place around the Boone table this Thanksgiving. Hats are welcome over on one corner of the couch, and there’s a bathroom right down the hall where you can wash your hands and give your hair and face a once-over.
As you sit down, you notice the table’s loaded with turkey, ham, candied yams, several pounds of different kinds of stuffing, date pudding. . . The windows partially steamed up from all the fragrant warmth of hours of cooking and hearts thawing.
Self-consciously, you glance around the table, seeing some faces you don’t know, others slightly, and yet more whom you’ve known seemingly forever. All different background, different stories, different lives. None of that matters here.
Because at the Boone family table, there’s always room for one more. No matter where you’ve been or who you are, you’re welcome here. Grab the hands next to you and sing along with us . . .
“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God, my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not.
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS! GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS!
MORNING BY MORNING NEW MERCIES I SEE.
ALL I HAVE NEEDED THY HAND HATH PROVIDED.
GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS, LORD, UNTO ME!”
From our home to you, wherever and however this finds you–
A HAPPY, MEMORABLE THANKSGIVING TO YOU.
© D. Dean Boone, 26 November 2015