As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow with family and friends, we wanted to take a moment to share with you some of our most cherished Thanksgiving memories. We hope you enjoy!
Diane Paddison, 4word founder:
When I was growing up on the farm, each Thanksgiving my Grandmother Detering used to assemble a table through her dining and living room that sat twenty people. The Seifert and Detering relatives would gather and enjoy the amazing bounty from my relatives’ farms and the amazing cooking of my mom, grandmother, and aunts. I had so much fun and got so excited to see everyone. It was a wonderful time of being grateful to God, loving family, and enjoying the fruits of our work.
After the day was over, my immediate family took the one family vacation that we would take each year. We would drive about ninety minutes away from home, over the beautiful Oregon coast, and enjoy the next three days together. Since we didn’t take but one trip a year, this was a huge deal. We felt so special staying in a hotel for two nights. It even had an indoor heated swimming pool!
I think the reason I love the Oregon coast so much is it reminds me of the times I would run and walk along the beach as a kid, listening to the waves lap on the sand. I would run as fast as I could so I wouldn’t get wet because the water was so cold. My Dad and I would get up early, when the tide was low, and go to the tide pools, explore the rugged rocks, and smell the ocean while searching for star fish and sea urchins. At the ocean, I feel the peace and rest of God.
The second Thanksgiving gathering I remember fondly was in a very different place from the farm in Oregon. In 2013, our third child, Rose, studied in Rome for a semester with Penn State. During the Thanksgiving week, our family went to visit Rose. Quite a different trip than the ninety minutes it took us to get to the Oregon coast as a kid.
Once we arrived and met up with Rose, we talked about the week. The eighteen students in Rome for Thanksgiving told us we were invited to join them at their dorm for Thanksgiving dinner. After exploring what they called a kitchen, I offered up a Thanksgiving dinner Plan B. We had rented a home, an Airbnb find, and it had a kitchen. We also could put enough indoor and outdoor tables together to seat eighteen. On Thanksgiving, I cooked the turkey, dressing, and gravy, and they did the rest, potluck style. We had so much fun! The first meal began at 4:00 pm, then we played games and really enjoyed each other. Of course, we prayed (even though everyone in the room wasn’t Christian) and went around the table and shared what we were grateful for that day.
What a wonderful day to remember our blessings from God! Whether we are around the farm table with relatives in Oregon or around a table with eighteen Penn State architecture students in Rome, we were “family” in both situations, celebrating the bounty God has provided.
Lori Berry, 4word Director of Operations:
I love Thanksgiving. I love the reminder to stop and reflect on all we have to be grateful for. Most years, we try to do something creative, like writing what we’re thankful for on slips of paper to read as a family or making blessing boxes together. Gratitude changes our focus. It takes our hearts off what we want and points it to all we already have in abundance.
As a child, I spent every Thanksgiving in Kansas with approximately 125 aunts, uncles, cousins, and relatives of all shapes and sizes. The great aunts were in charge of the turkey, mashed potatoes, and noodles, so these menu items never changed. The next generation took care of the second level important foods, including fresh-from-the-farm corn, pumpkin pie, and other sides. Everyone brought the same thing every year. You could count on the Waldorf salad, jello dishes, and layered brownies like clockwork. There was always someone my age to play with, and in those days, we ran around outside unsupervised a lot.
When I had my own young children, we continued to spend time with family. Four generations would eat, laugh, hang out, then eat again. When my grandparents were alive, we would linger on their farm relaxing, going for walks, skipping rocks at the creek, and playing games. I miss those days like crazy. The creek now runs through the farm someone else owns. My focus now is to create opportunities for my kids to unwind and get together with crazy cousins they don’t get to see often. Aunt Amy will let them shoot guns, ride four wheelers, take naps, and get dirty. What else would a city kid want to do on a holiday?
From our family to yours…the happiest of Thanksgivings!
Katie Reiff, 4word: Local Group Director:
My favorite Thanksgiving memories have definitely come about because of my family, both my immediate family and extended family.
I think my #1 favorite memory is when our family was up at our cabin with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. As adults, we all have so much fun together! We decided to have the first-ever Anderson-Reiff Family Turkey Bowl. We all dressed up in our respective team uniforms (Green/Yellow to rep Oregon and Purple/Gray to rep Washington) and had a pre-game dance party. Our family doesn’t “break it down” too often, so we had a blast and then raced out to the grass field to play some ball. Halfway through our touchdowns and celebrations, it started to lightly snow! I remember looking around at all the family around and the snow falling in a place I love and being so grateful for that moment.
My second favorite (set) of memories is always cooking with my mom, and now my grandma, in the kitchen. We don’t mess around on a couple favorite Thanksgiving food items. My mom’s gravy is really the BEST I have ever tasted. We all take a couple items and help out in the kitchen together. My dad grows pumpkins, so we use the fresh flesh for our pies, which he is in charge of making. We love pie so much that we each have our own. Decadent? It really just keeps us from fighting! We eat it for every meal until they are gone.
I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends and the occasional new person who we get to invite into the mix to both be a blessing and receive blessing from.
Jordan Johnstone, 4word Content Manager:
I come from a fairly large family (I’m the oldest of seven kids!), so any holiday has always been a big “to-do” in the Mechling house! Now that I’m married, I’ve seen my holidays expand even more to include new faces and new traditions. It’s pretty special, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
My most favorite Thanksgiving memory is of the Thanksgiving before my husband and I were married. My parents rented a cabin in the middle of nowhere North Carolina, nestled in between some “mountains” (those around real mountains would get quite the chuckle at these hills) and boasting pseudo farm life for the few days the holiday weekend we stayed there. My husband (then fiance) was able to join us too, which made it even more special. It was a ton of fun to go out exploring the woods and fields around the cabin, and then head back to our little cozy cabin to enjoy tasty food and all the company you could ever want.
Thanksgiving often gets overlooked, seeing as it’s the holiday between Halloween and Christmas. I’ve always loved it. To me, it is the beginning of the cozy and sentimental holiday season, and I always come to the end of Thanksgiving so full of love, thankfulness, and festiveness. I can’t wait to celebrate this year with our newest family addition, our son Dean. In the years to come, I hope he comes to understand and love this special day just as much as his family does!
From all of us here at 4word, may your Thanksgiving be full of family, friends, rest, and memories. We are so thankful for each and every one of you and look forward to what the rest of this year will bring!
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