We truly had the most wonderful Thanksgiving Day! I asked the Lord a couple of months ago to help me make the holidays special for our family. Being in a country where Thanksgiving Day is no different than any other day of the year, the temperature still feels like summer, and there is not a pumpkin to be found, it is sometimes hard to not get homesick for our homeland. It is very important to us that our children learn of their American heritage...that they speak English and that they also learn of God's providence in the founding of our country. We spent the past several weeks talking about American history, talking about why we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, and reading stories of the Pilgrims. As we read those Pilgrim stories each morning, I knew this was really going to be a special Thanksgiving. As we talked about how they left their familiar land, their homes, family and friends and gave up/sold most of their possessions, we understood. As we talked about them first living in Leiden, Holland and the culture/surroundings/language being so foreign to them, we understood. When we talked of how they had times of sickness and little, we understood. When we talked about them not having homes yet to live in when they first arrived, we understood. And when we talked about how the Lord provided and cared for them, we too understood. All week, we talked about Thanksgiving Day and all the things we would do to celebrate. Normally, our plans go only somewhat as planned...we have found that 12 children develops in one much flexibility and patience! :) But today went just according to our plans and what a blessed day it was!
I woke up very early. I told Daniel that I was getting up because I needed to get the cinnamon rolls in the oven and baked so I could start the turkey. That was true, but that is not really why I was up so early...for as long as I can remember, I have never been able to sleep in on any special day...Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday, Easter etc... I'm just too excited and I don't want to miss any of it (I can never go to bed early those days either because I don't want them to end :)). I assumed that once I "grew up" I would outgrow that, but I never have (or maybe I'm not grown up yet :) ). Elijah was already up and Benjamin got up a few minutes later. We made our special homemade cinnamon rolls and by the time we'd finished, the sun was rising and so was the rest of the family.
Everyone got dressed, did their morning chores, and then we sat down to hot sweet rolls and peppermint tea. We ate breakfast, I read about the first Thanksgiving, Daniel read the Bible and then we talked about what we'd read. After breakfast, we cleaned up and then Daniel had to run an errand in the next town over, so he took some of the little ones along for the ride.
The older ones and I got to work in the kitchen. The girls and I had made the pies the day before (2 pumpkin and 2 apple) and took a quart of cream and turned it into butter. I soaked the turkey in brine the night before and it was baking in the oven. Three hours later, we had a giant pot of mashed potatoes, gravy, oven roasted asparagus (which was given to us the night before by Hno. Juan...a true answer to prayer as I didn't have a vegetable for the meal :)), homemade rolls, stuffing, and jello salad. I was so excited that I was able to make everything except for the pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce from ingredients I found here! Deb and Joel brought me the pumpkin and cranberry when they came to visit (thank you!).
Abigail and Isaiah set the table. We didn't have much in the way of Thanksgiving decorations, but Abigail and I pulled this and that out of the cupboard and Abigail arranged it all.
While we waited for the turkey to finish cooking, the children made our tradional apple turkeys. A dear friend sent me minimarshmallows so we could continue to do this fun activity together. Some of the turkeys looked more like porcupines; Noah said his was like a space ship ???. But as I sat feeding little Samuel while everyone worked away, I listened. The best part was hearing all laughter, chattering, singing, and a few funny sound effects that only boys can make. I wish I could have recorded it and saved it forever. How richly blessed I am to get to hear those sweet sounds every day!
It was finally time to eat and what a bountiful feast we had! Uncle Samuel and Carlos were with us for the day too. Then everyone helped clean up. Daniel washed most of the dishes and what a job that was! He does them so much better than I do. It would never dawn on me to unscrew the handles to my lids and clean under them. Last Thanksgiving, he washed them also as I was on bedrest pregnant with little Samuel. But this year, he just must really love me :)
After clean up we all went outside to the vacant lot next to our house and played kickball until dark. It's great to have enough in just our family to easily make two teams. We played until almost dark; I think I'll be sore tomorrow :)
I put my camera down to play kick ball, and forgot to pick it back up to take pictures of the rest of the evening; I was having too much fun. :)
The children took their showers, got on their pj's and cleaned their rooms. We gathered around the table to all share what we were especially thankful for this year. Some of the children had written out what they were thankful for in school last week and they read their papers outloud. Then we pulled out the guitars and mandolin and sat around the piano to sing together for another hour. We ended the evening with some pie and icecream, a time of prayer, and then it was off to brush teeth and head to bed. Timothy and Elijah are still up as they helped clean up after dessert and our now watching a creation scientist dvd with Daniel, Uncle Samuel and Carlos. Elijah pops over here every few minutes to tell me something else he learned from the presentaion. :) The day was filled with several calls from family back in the states which was an extra treat as well. It truly was a very special day. I hope you all too had a wonderful day of thankfulness and fellowship!
The Lord is so good, so merciful, and so faithful.