Thanksgiving (and life) is all about basting
Posted 4:18 PM Monday, November 21, 2022
The Thanksgiving holiday seems to bring back memories for many of us, and as I get older, those memories become that much more cherished. Some of these memories are about my childhood and the things that Thanksgiving brought to my family and community.
My earliest memory of Thanksgiving begins when I was about five years old and sitting in Spring Garden Baptist Church with my family listening to the choir sing songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. I don’t listen to these songs much anymore, but I still remember every word of them. Anthems like ‘We Gather Together’. ‘Come, grateful people, come’ and ‘For the beauty of the earth’.
After church we would go home and have dinner. Some years our Thanksgiving table was plentiful and others not so much. We always had turkey and plenty of vegetables, but some years pies, pies, and other delicacies didn’t grace the table. That’s when the neighbors would tell mom to come get slices of pie and pies for us kids. Truly our neighborhood was one of sharing and caring. I am forever grateful for that.
I spent many Thanksgivings with my grandmother who lived in Belhaven. I didn’t appreciate going to her house in my younger years because she lived a simple life with no frills. She fished in the nearby stream, had a toilet, collected drinking and cooking water from an outdoor pump, and collected rainwater in barrels for everything else. She baked sweet potatoes on top of a cast-iron stove in her living room instead of her oven in the kitchen. She didn’t have a TV for many years and didn’t really want one. I was a teenager when she got a color game and at least I got to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while she helped her make dinner.
One of the things I remember most about those days I spent with her was how she would talk about food preparation and draw life lessons from it. He once was helping her prepare a turkey. She was explaining why she basted the turkey for so long. She said that “life was like basting a turkey. Without the basting, the turkey would be dry, tough, and not as flavorful. If you want a good turkey, you have to spend time and patience to make it perfect. Life, she said, was like that. Some people have a dry and hard life because they don’t shower it with thanksgiving to the Lord for what they have. “Life is gone the way you make it,” she said. “Life has been hard and dry at times, but if you shower it with gratitude for what you have, life will work out for you. It’s about what you string your life together.” Well, as a fourteen-year-old boy, I didn’t quite understand the connection then, but I can assure you that, many decades later, I understand it now. I have learned to sprinkle my life with gratitude for what God has done for me.
Thanksgiving really is a place in time card to think about all the things we can be thankful for. I am so grateful for my family, friends, Harbor Church, health, and blessings too numerous to list here. I am also very grateful to all of you who read the thoughts I share in this space and to the Washington Daily News for giving me the opportunity to write this column.
My grandmother Lee was right. Life is what you make it, and it really is about how much gratitude we can use to make life good. Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!
Leesa Jones is a Washington native and co-founder and co-executive director of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.