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Helen's Mulberry Lane Farm Journal

December 12, 2010.

Our 2010 Thanksgiving

We all cheered as Matthew came in the door on the last day of exams! He looked exhausted and excited all at the same time.

He did very well on his finals, getting his Thanksgiving-break week off to a good start.

He went hunting the next day. Hunting season was just opening. No deer this year, at least not that kind.

We had three very special Thanksgiving guests this year: 'Beka, returning from BJU, Joey, and Esther.

Joey is a "friend" of Rachel. He was visiting from Wisconsin, where he is attending college. Rachel has been writing to Joey for about two years. Joey took Rachel on her (and his) first date while he was here, making their relationship official. Joey's parents and Gerald and I have been friends for many years. I even saw Joey on the day he was born! We've known and loved Joey for forever and he fits hand-in-glove into our family. He is a first year engineering student. He asked Gerald's permission to date Rachel, and Gerald gave him his blessing, but said he would have to ask Rachel! As you can see, she said yes. Joey is a godly young man, exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit in his life --- all we need to give our blessing to this young couple.

Love is a friendship set to music.
Photo by Helen E. Aardsma, November, 2010.

Joey gave Rachel this lovely necklace
to seal their courtship plans.
Photo by Helen E. Aardsma,
November, 2010.

'Beka arrived from BJU in the wee hours on the morning of Wednesday, November 24th. She was able to hitch a ride home with another student heading our way. She was exhausted from her recent set of exams, yet jubilant to be home with her cherished family. She was already up when I got up. She had made some delicious cornbread for breakfast, grinding the grain in our mill as we usually do. Her eyes were red from lack of sleep, and probably also from a few tears shed as she greeted us all.

Tim and Caleb were so excited, and everyone was talking so fast. It was a hilarious and precious scene, the kind a mom cherishes in her heart for a lifetime. How wonderful for me to see my children showing such love for each other. Is there any greater joy for a mother?

Preparations immediately began for our big Thanksgiving dinner the next day. Our own organic, home-grown turkey was defrosting on the counter. 'Beka dived into making the stuffing, enjoying every minute in the kitchen after nearly a full semester of college dorm life. Pumpkin pies and cheesecake were on the menu, so the girls got busy making them. Joey likes to cook too, but only if Rachel is in the kitchen! The dishes were piling high and Joey washed and washed them! He earned his keep!

Can you see the joyful
anticipation on my face?
Photo by Rachel E. Aardsma,
November, 2010.

Thanksgiving day was cold, rainy and dreary, but my heart was excited and full of anticipation --- a whole day just dedicated to enjoying my loved ones! I put the turkey in early and soon the house was smelling like a Thanksgiving day should.

Everyone seemed to figure out what to get for breakfast as I was busy trying to make Thanksgiving Placecards for the table. I printed about eight per sheet, cut them up, folded them and wrote each person's name on their placecard. I also printed off lots of Bible verses with "thanks" in them. I cut them out in strips, one Bible verse per strip. We set the table with my Fiestaware (always suits my party mood!) and put the Bible verses on the plates.

Simple additions add special touches.
Photo by Helen E. Aardsma, November, 2010.

Matthew, meanwhile, had gone to pick up Esther and her sister. Did I not tell you about Esther yet? Oh, yes, the other dear. Matthew's dear is a lovely, godly young woman whom I've known since she was a little girl. "Her worth is above rubies", a sweet, selfless soul, and an answer to our many prayers for Matthew. Matthew is a wise son, taking life seriously and carefully, seeking wisdom from many counselors, choosing each step of his life with deliberation and prayer. He will often knock on our door late at night for talks. I cherish them, even though I am often tired and feel the need for sleep.

When Matthew arrived with Esther the laughter and joy escalated --- flashing cameras (Joey is a wonderful photographer), whispering couples, and bouncing boys, all mixed together with the smell of stuffing baking in the oven! My heart was full to overflowing.

Matthew and Esther enjoying the moment.
Photo by Helen E. Aardsma, November, 2010.

We sat down to a table filled with food, and we sat down with hearts filled with thankfulness --- for the bountiful table, and even more for one another. We read our Bible verses in turn, keeping the focus on what Thanksgiving is all about, and then Gerald prayed a beautiful, heartfelt prayer, representing us all before the Throne of Grace.

Feasting on food and fellowship!
Photo by Helen E. Aardsma, November, 2010.

"Pass the cranberries."
"Hey, save me some black olives!"
"More turkey over here, please."
"Save room for dessert."
"This is a very delicious dinner, Mrs. Aardsma."
"Any more gravy?"
"What's for dessert?"
"Should we have dessert now or after our walk?"
More giggling and laughter.

We have a tradition to go for a nice long, (slow) walk after our Thanksgiving lunch, but it was blowing and rainy. No worry. We would all wash the dishes instead! Great new tradition, no? All pitched in. More giggling, splashing, bubbles, laughter. More eating and drinking. And finally the dishes are done.

Wow! Nice clean kitchen! Thanks everyone!

After the dishes I got a few games together for us to play. First Gerald and I set up a tournament to play Krokinole. (Some call it Carom). Everyone picked their partners with a spirit of joyful participation and good-spirited competition. We asked Caleb and Esther's younger sister, Lydia, if they would mind playing as partners. We were worried they might feel it was unfair having the two youngest ones together on a team. They said, "No problem."

I used to play this game as a child.
Photo by Helen E. Aardsma, November, 2010.

The tournament took about 1.5 hours. I believe the screams could be heard up in Chicago. Groans of despair were pretty loud too. Laughter continued to abound. My heart was on "record memories." When Gerald added up all the points, guess who won? Caleb and Lydia! So much for the disadvantage of being the two youngest!

Caleb and Lydia won the tournament.
Photo by 'Beka Aardsma, November, 2010.

Desserts began to appear on the table: ice cream, ambrosia, pumpkin pie, punch and the like. Everyone helped themselves. The younger boys liked that. I couldn't believe it was possible for them to eat so much after having eaten such a large lunch.

Meanwhile I began to set up our own homemade version of the game Pictionary. I taped a white board to the piano and got some erasable markers ready to go. Earlier in the day I had found a neat website that had a Random Word Generator that could be used for Pictionary. We played the girls against the boys. Each person in turn would go up to the board. The Random Word Generator was set to the website on a laptop which was only visible to the person drawing. One can set the word generator to various levels. We set it to easy because even the easy words seemed impossible. The person drawing would click "next word" on the word generator and a new word would pop up. They had to draw the word, even if it was a hard word like "solution." They then would draw a picture on the white board to help their team guess the word. Each person had 60 seconds for their team to guess their word. The "drawer" is neither allowed to say anything, nor allowed to write any words on the white board. If you have never played this, it is a great family game which will produce some wild laughter. One of 'Beka's words was "one hundred." She asked, "Am I allowed to write numbers?" We all innocently replied, "Sure". So of course, she wrote, "100"! (Turns out the rules say you can't write numbers!) It took us 0.2 seconds to guess her word! But try drawing "chemical," or "expert," or "appearance!"

We played this for over two hours, at which point we were all pretty much exhausted. Our stomachs literally ached from the laughing. I haven't laughed like that in years. Great medicine!

The girls won, by the way! We ladies are known for our way with words, n'est pas? No prizes were needed --- victory was enough!

We were all too tired to do much more. So we sat around to eat more pie. Some nutty person suggested we take a walk. It was a cold evening, but we all went anyway. After a very brisk walk around the block we came back to our snug little home and ate more pie.

When Matthew was five or so he used to have so much energy! (As a matter of fact, he still does!) He would jump around the house like a kangaroo. Somehow or other, Caleb and Timmy starting jumping around on the floor, and it reminded me of Matthew doing that kangaroo thing. Someone said, "Hey, Matthew. Let's see you do that kangaroo thing you used to do." True to form, down he went and jumped up and down in a perfect kangaroo imitation back and forth in the living room. Esther laughed for a good solid five minutes, until the tears were rolling down her cheeks. You had to be there. (I've always thought that you can tell the maturity level of a person by how they handle being laughed at. Matthew scored high.)

My mother-in-law used to say, "The best things in life are free."

Gerald took out his tenor recorder and he and 'Beka, on the piano, started playing some hymns together. We all quieted down and began to relax. There is nothing like music in a minor key to stir the soul.

The tears began to flow then. My heart was full of so many thoughts and emotions and so much thankfulness: the dear ones around me, my kind husband, the precious children God has blessed me with, their new loves, the sweet spirit of all present. Watching the young love between the couples --- their young, vivacious, glowing faces --- made me ache with the beauty of it all. We sang some deep (as in theologically deep) old hymns. The harmony, both of the music and of the hearts present, was indescribable.

Homemade music---the very best kind!
Photo by Helen E. Aardsma, November, 2010.

No one wanted the evening to end, least of all me. Favorite hymns were called out one after the other until finally Gerald said we could only do one more as folks had to get on home before it got too late. I think we could have sung hymns all night. It reminded me of Ephesians 5:19, "Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father."

Goodbye and Goodnight
by Helen E. Aardsma

Warm hugs all around.
All souls sensing the preciousness.
Heartfelt thanks.
More laughter.
Doors close.
Cars drive away.
Exhaustion takes over.
Whisperings in quiet corners.
Solitude pervades.
Climb into bed.
Heart overflowing.
Weary of body.
Refreshed of soul.
No talking.
Hearts too full.
Just thoughts meandering.
Prayer of thanks.
Tears of gratitude.
Thanksgiving 2010.

Sweet memories remind us of the roads we have traveled and the people we have loved.
Photo by Joey Contreras, Jr. November, 2010.


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