Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful

One of my favorite smells in the whole world is the aroma of roasting turkey.

When I was a young girl, I was in a religion that celebrated no holidays, so we never had a Thanksgiving dinner with (or without) all the trimmings. But I do have some vivid Thanksgiving memories. I always had the day off school, of course, and my mother took advantage of that fact to take me out in the morning, starting at 9 a.m., to knock on doors and do some preaching. I walked along the icy sidewalks, Bible in hand, frigid air swirling around my legs and dress. Sometimes people were annoyed with us for showing up at their doors on a family holiday; other times, I noticed the smile and look of compassion, especially towards me (if not towards my mother). But everywhere we went, there was this smell: the smell of turkeys roasting, pies baking, and gravy being made. It was a warm, inviting smell that wafted up and down every street, bursting out of toasty homes when people opened their doors. The smell of roasting, stuffed turkeys was so enticing that all I could think about as we walked was how good that meal would taste. Even now, whenever I smell a roasting turkey, I am immediately transported back to those icy sidewalks, Bible in hand.

When we got cold enough, after three hours or so, my mom would take me home or to McDonald's for some hot cocoa. And at home, although my father was not a "believer," it was just another day for us. No family, no celebration, no talk of thankfulness, and certainly no turkey. I remember asking my mother if we couldn't PLEASE roast a turkey and have stuffing and mashed potatoes and rolls, and she snapped "NO! That would be CELEBRATING Thanksgiving!" When I reasoned that we could do it a few days before or after the holiday, she told me it would STILL be celebrating, because we would be mimicking "the world" and having a November feast like them. And we had to remain "no part of the world."

My Dad did sneak and buy a turkey once when they were on sale at Thanksgiving, much to the displeasure of my mother. But he respected her wishes and roasted it in January, well after the holiday season so no one could mistake our roasted bird for some kind of holiday tradition. There was no stuffing or pies, but the turkey was delicious, as was the turkey-and-rice soup my Dad made with the bones later. I still make that soup whenever I have turkey bones from a dinner.

One year my aunt invited us to come up to visit for a few days in November. My mother and I usually made the five hour drive to visit relatives sometime in October, but for some reason, our plans this year fell right on Thanksgiving weekend. In fact, we were going to arrive at my aunt's home ON Thanksgiving day, right about dinnertime. I was SO excited! I knew that all of my aunts and uncles and cousins would be there, and Grandma too, and I knew my aunt, who was a fantastic cook, would have the whole turkey dinner prepared that night. I could not believe my good fortune! But on the way there, my mother made it very clear that it would be very wrong for us to partake of that Thanksgiving dinner. It would make us Part of The World. It would mean we were celebrating Thanksgiving. I asked if we couldn't just eat some of it and think of it as food and not a holiday, and she reminded me that Jehovah was watching, and I should stand up for what I believe and be an example to my cousins. We stopped at McDonald's for dinner on the way there, which really upset my aunt when she found out. Walking into that house full of food and aromas and every kind of Thanksgiving dish I'd always wanted to try was difficult, but I stayed loyal to Jehovah and did not even have a taste.

Now, I celebrate every holiday with great joy (and no guilt) with my own children. We have a turkey roasting in the oven, and as the smell fills my house along with the laughter of my sons and daughter I know I am very blessed. I am thankful that I had the strength and integrity to walk away from a religion that I felt was hurtful to me, that I did not want to see my children raised in the same way. I am thankful I had the fortitude to step outside the box I was raised in and make a decision about my future FOR MYSELF at the tender age of 17. I am thankful I am inside in a warm home instead of out in the cold knocking on doors of strangers with my kids right now. I am thankful for my life, my weight loss, my body, my blog, and all of you.

18 comments:

Theresa said...

I am thankful for you, your blog, your honesty and integrity. Blessings on a beautiful Thanksgiving......... hugs. :)

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Lyn.

Stacey
SWPA

Anne H said...

Isn't it great how bloggers are thankful for blogging and other bloggers? I sure as heck-fire am.
Thanks Lyn for a great year of reading and sharing! And congrats on all of your achievements!

MargieAnne said...

Happy Thanksgiving.

I'm so glad you are free to enjoy life with your children.

Also very thankful you had the strength to make a new ife not to mention your Blog.

Blessings

CJ said...

Happy Thanksgiving Lyn! :)

CJ said...

Happy Thanksgiving Lyn! :)

Mary :: A Merry Life said...

I always enjoy your thoughts so much Lyn.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope it's a wonderful day for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

We had visitors at our door yesterday holding a version of their bible and today again at my door as they froze their bottoms practically off.

Your story made me sad, but I am thankful that you are now making up for lost memories and time. That day that was about cold hands is now about warm hands enjoying turkey.

Rose B.

Jenn @ Cooking Aweigh the Pounds said...

I, too, grew up as a Jehovah's Witness. Though my parents were never quite into it as your mother was (they chose this religion so that they didn't have to buy gifts and celebrate holidays.) I made the choice to leave this religion when I was 18 and never looked back. I've celebrated every single holiday with glee and fervor (to make up for my lacking childhood) and make sure to live vicariously through my little girl.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you and your family!!! :)

Lanie Painie said...

It is hard to reconcile a god that would put so much joy into the world and not want us, especially as children, to partake in it.

I'm glad you've found your way to joy and to us! I hope your holiday was great!

Dillypoo said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your kids, Lyn!

Liway said...

Happy Thanksgiving Lyn!! Enjoy your turkey dinner and your family!! We celebrated Thanksgiving a month ago here in Canada, but I just want to tell you that I am thankful for YOU and your blog (and now facebook)!! :) My son goes to school with a little boy that doesn't "celebrate" events either. I feel sorry for the little guy. He seems to be okay with it - on the outside anyway - but I'm sure he must feel sooo left out on the inside. My heart breaks for him!! :( Tomorrow I'm bringing cupcakes to school for my son's birthday - I really hope this little guy is allowed to have one! I can't even imagine your pain at not being able to "celebrate" ...I'm so glad you have made a healthy choice and can now enjoy traditions with your family!!! (((HUGS)))

spunkysuzi said...

I'm so glad that you and your children were able to celebrate today with all the fixings!!

Jaime said...

As a Christian with young children it really saddens me that you missed out on so many joyous things. I am glad you are able to now enjoy and experience these things with your own children. Happy Thanksgiving !

Steelers6 said...

Your stories (& Jenn's) make me kinda sad. I recognize there are various religious choices out there, but to hear from the eyes of a little girl..so sad. And I suppose some ppl are more 'rigid' with their rules than others.

I love how you enjoy every moment now, and put your all in to raising those kids.

We have a lot to be thankful for, don't we?
Have a wonderful weekend, Chrissy

Twiggy said...

I always enjoy reading your childhood stories. You are do descriptive, I can just about picture the scene! Thanks for the great story, and I hope you had a great day!

Anonymous said...

Great post ! I am thankful for your blog !

Bobbie said...

I'm glad you feel the freedom to celebrate the good things in life. I too am a Christian and the Bible talks alot about God (Jehovah) who gave His people plenty of holy days (holidays) to celebrate. I am thankful for your heart and the freedom you are finding in life.