Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving – A Debt of Gratitude

Within my stored holiday decorations I have tucked some special cards given to me by family over the years. Today I want to share a card from my father. These thoughts are always a pleasant reminder of why we celebrate these events in our lives. Some of our family will be coming to our home for Thanksgiving dinner. As we share the blessings and wonderful memories of our family we will reflect on those who are not with us.

Dear Sue,
Heres a card to let you know that we are thinking of you. It looks like you will be working during Thanksgiving. This is a special time of year to me. I always look back and think about the blessings we have received being good health and being able to do what ever we want to is a good feeling. I also think that having four children that we can be proud of is a blessing. I read one time that the biggest thing that children can do for their parents is to conduct themselves in a manner that will please them. I hope that everything is going well with you and that you have a nice Thanksgiving.
Love, Dad

My Dad wrote this to me in 1975 or 1976, he passed away in 1988 after fighting brain cancer for two years. I am sure he missed me as much as I missed him and our family. I was very homesick as I had never been away from home before. This was during my time in Guatemala and I first arrived there just before Thanksgiving in 1975.

The first Thanksgiving I was there we went to an American restaurant and had hamburgers. The sisters found the first home we lived in just before I arrived. The family was very kind and generous to us; they were devout Catholics taking care of Mormon missionaries. By the time Christmas came we had grown to love each other, especially Martha who oversaw our care. There was nothing she would not do for us. For Christmas she set up a small tree in the living room on the piano. She had a turkey brought in, got it drunk, and prepared it for our Christmas dinner. I believe there were even little presents under the tree and we made stockings for the missionaries with her old treadle sewing machine. Then for New Years they had a mariachi band come sing in the courtyard of the house. They lit off firecrackers first thing in the morning as part of the celebration of the niece’s birthday. Just over a month later there was a major earthquake and we lived on the street for three weeks. My mother really wanted me to come home, but I felt very safe and protected living with this family. For the first nine months I was in Guatemala I lived in this home and every opportunity after that I would visit them. They saw me off at the airport sixteen months later. It was very hard to leave my second family and the wonderful life and culture in Guatemala.

Before I left on my mission my Dad wrote me a check to cover the entire cost of the mission. It was a special day when I returned home in 1977. Even though he never officially became a member of the LDS church, he supported us in our beliefs. He felt the mission provided a unique opportunity for me and highly encouraged me to go. Then I went off to BYU in Utah and he again supported this learning experience for me. He even let me take the family car for transportation while I was there. When I came home in April I was dating my future husband and suddenly lost interest in returning to Utah. I can still remember the morning I got up and had breakfast with my parents before my Dad went to work. This was very unusual for me as I am not a morning person. I announced to them that I had made the decision to get married. This was not a great surprise to them and they were very supportive. So the next thing he financially supported was our wedding. My parents made the long trip to the Idaho Falls Temple even though they could not come inside to witness our marriage. They provided a lovely lunch for family and friends before returning home to Portland.

Dad was richly blessed in his life, but mostly through hard work, patience and generosity. These characteristics he has passed on to his extended family. I am grateful he lived to see his children grown to adulthood, married and knew many of his grandchildren. The grandchildren were a highlight of his life. There was nothing he would not do for them or his children for that matter. Truly he is proud of what we accomplished in our lives. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week we have much to be grateful for.

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