I always love Thanksgiving, but this year was especially enjoyable. My youngest son (he is on the right side of the picture; you can just barely see one eye peeping out from the back row) cooked the turkey, stuffing, homemade Parker House rolls, and mashed potatoes. His in-laws hosted. His mother-in-law (in the front; hugging her mother in the wheelchair) made sweet potatoes, spare ribs, rice and beans, and green beans. I made pies.
We have celebrated Thanksgiving with this branch of our family tree for several years now. Before dinner, after the prayer, we go around the room telling what we are especially thankful for this year. My husband went before me. He gave such an eloquent and touching speech that my heart was in my throat and I had nothing left to say. I managed to croak out “Ditto, ” and everyone laughed.
We had a very enjoyable conversation with my daughter-in-law’s brother and his wife. In addition to having a job in the mayor’s office in Philadelphia, he is forming a production company. He and a partner will produce films where they discuss important matters in order to help young people make good decisions. The first topic they chose to discuss- financial literacy.
My four-year-old grandson is missing from the photo. He was too shy to have his picture taken.
“Good morning. Lead with gratitude. The air in your lungs, the sky above you. Proceed from there”.– Lin-Manuel Miranda
Maybe you are suffering from gratitude overload, but I had to include one more quote on the topic before November ends. I love how Miranda extols us to lead with gratitude. It should be our first thought of the day, our default setting. We can go on to our regularly scheduled programs, our busy lists, hectic schedules, and frenetic lives after we take a minute or two to sit and be grateful for our many, many blessings.
I am in the process of reading The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman. It’s a fascinating look into the minds of our fine feathered friends. Ackerman makes a compelling case that the term “bird brain” is a misnomer.
Corvids, which include, crows, ravens, rooks, and jays, are known to be incredibly smart birds. They not only manufacture tools, which they use to get hard-to-reach food morsels, they are also known to save good tools for future use. Tool use was once thought to be the signature skill of humans and other primates. Crows and ravens can recognize themselves in a mirror and use passing cars to crack nutshells so they can get to the nut inside.
Ackerman describes how an intrepid crow has learned to solve an eight-step problem to reach a food reward. He has not been trained to do this feat – he is a wild crow who was held in captivity for only three months before being released back into the wild.
The eight steps must be performed in a specific order. In the video, the bird seems to take a few seconds to study the puzzle, then he gets to work. It is truly amazing. I don’t know whether I could have figured out the puzzle as quickly as he did! You can watch him here.
The last time we went to Colorado to visit my oldest son and his family, Ryan gave me his copy of Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz after one of our long discussions.
Ryan is probably the most well-read person I know. He is knowledgeable about a wide variety of topics. It is one of my great joys to explore his thoughts on religion, politics, the environment, economics, and history.
For those of you who have never read this book, it is a tome. First published in 1894, it weighs in at 589 pages. At first, I thought I would not be able to complete the book. It is somewhat slow to start. I am very glad I stuck with it. It was one of the most significant novels I have ever read.
Set in first century Rome after the death of Christ, Nero, a misogynist and preening narcissist, is the emperor. He has surrounded himself with a collection of sycophants, whose function is to fawn over him and his dubious accomplishments.
The protagonist, Marcus Vinicius, a soldier, nobleman, and member of Nero’s court has fallen in love with Ligia, a young Christian woman. The book tells their story, a nail-biter, and also gives the reader a historically accurate portrait of Roman life in the time of Nero.
I had read of Christian persecution before, but never in this excruciating detail. Without giving too much of the book away, Christians are made into scapegoats by Nero, blamed for the great fire in Rome. Christian men, women, and children are fed to wild animals, crucified, and burned at the stake, while the Roman mob, believing Nero’s lies, howled for even more blood and death.
The calm acceptance and loving forgiveness shown by the Christians toward their tormentors stirred my faith and strengthened my resolve to show the same equanimity in my own life. I tend to be a worrier. As any worrier will tell you, worry wastes time and energy through needless anxiety.
God does not want us to be timid; bravery is called for. He is with us always. The first century Christians described in the book were an inspiring example of faith, which I will forever attempt to emulate.
I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.– Joshua 1:9
I am linking up with Heather Gerwing for her “Four Somethings”. Thanks, Heather, for giving the opportunity to think and write about four such compelling topics. I am also linking up with Jessica and Amy at Live Life Well, Anna Nuttall, My Little Tablespoon and Laughing My Abs Off for their Fab Finds Friday, Susan B Mead for Dancing With Jesus, Crystal Twaddell for Fresh Market Friday, Spiritual Sundays for Welcome, Embracing the Unexpected for Grace and Truth, The Blended Blog for Friday Loves, Just a Second for Scripture and a Snapshot, Peabea Photography for Sunday Scripture Blessings, Anita Ojeda for Inspire Me Monday, A Spirit of Simplicity for Selah, and Counting My Blessings for Faith ‘n Friends,