Last night my five daughters and I went to the grocery store together to conquer the Thanksgiving shopping. Usually it is just my oldest daughter, Bethany, and me, but the mission has outgrown us--it took all the girls and Mom Dot, too. I think a new tradition was born.
My son, Matthew, a Plebe at West Point, just texted me that he was on the bus. I love the thought of him taking the seven hour bus trip to join us for Thanksgiving, especially since he will be seeing our Virginia home for the first time. The kids are going to make a sign, but don't tell him.
Traditions are important to my children. After tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast, we will begin the familiar Christmas rituals. From shopping on Black Friday to our annual Christmas Eve Open House, we savor each one.
All this tradition has me thinking of a chat I had last summer while we were still living in Florida. I sat down at picnic table with new baby Hope while Captain Fun walked with the kids at one of our favorite sea side parks. It just so happened that the Treasure Coast Atheists were having a picnic at the pavilion that day. An older gentlemen beside me struck up a conversation, and I could see by his name tag that he was part of the group.
As we chatted, I learned he was from Vermont, one of my favorite places on earth. The conversation found its way to the topic of faith, and I shared with him that I was a Christian.
That's when he said something that I haven't forgotten. "You know, most Christians think it was when prayer was taken out of schools that began the demise of this country, but I beg to differ."
Here I had to tell him that one of the first prayers I knew as a kid was The Lord's Prayer, and guess where I learned it? Public school. He thought that was interesting.
"I think," he continued, "the real break down of the family began when stores started opening on Sundays and families stopped saving that day just to be together. Folks just got too busy for the family."
Like I said, I am grateful our principal led us in The Lord's Prayer every morning, but his point was valid. And I couldn't help but think about it yesterday when I learned that many stores are opting to open their doors tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day. Maybe families will make it a tradition to shop together, with the focus being on gratitude that they are blessed to be able to do so. But maybe not.
One thing is for sure, though. The Sims family will be at home, sitting around the Thanksgiving table, saying what we are each thankful for one by one. Captain Fun will announce that it's time for the annual Sims Family Football Game. Dorothy will do cheers on the sideline. I will hold the baby. (I always hold the baby.) Mom Dot will watch if it's not too cold.
Families have the freedom to observe Thanksgiving any way they want--around the dinner table or at the mall. But I do hope with this invisible barrier that's been broken, we won't eventually skip Thanksgiving altogether.
Let's keep the focus on counting our blessings, one holiday at a time.