November 28, 2010
‘Sobremesa’ describes Thanksgiving this year – our tummies were full, our hearts were fuller and we were content. The day before, though, I was rather dreading it all thinking about how much work lay ahead, worrying about how many guests were coming, and wondering if I had planned adequately. Gary just kept reassuring me that it would all work out, and then he went to work to make that happen. The Fias were in-house guests and they went to work, too – raked leaves and carried them off to the burn pile, helped Poppy gather fall cuttings for centerpieces, kept Ranger fed and happy, and even fixed breakfast for everyone (Sofia’s famous scrambled eggs). Kailey joined the work crew and kept the little ones entertained and out of mischief. She is one of my favorite people to have come and spend a night or two. Emily treats our home like it is her home – I guess it currently is (but not for much longer) – as she cleans, cooks, and creates. She works a lot harder than I do so I don’t know why I was the one stressing about Thanksgiving! I stand in awe at what she is able to get done in lickety split time and what she is able to create without spending a whole lot of energy on the creative process. She just comes up with an idea and makes it become real. Case in point: ‘Give Thanks’ set in oranges, cornucopia favors for the adults, cute edible turkeys for the kids. Jake took over outside and cleared the walks and decks of masses of leaves. The day was beautiful so we set up tables outside for the kids who really were far more interested in their turkey favors than the real thing: Thanksgiving dinner. We definitely had a crowd (30+) and a feast (two turkeys and a ham!) and it all worked out, just like Gary said. We saved the best for the last when we gathered in our Thanksgiving circle to express gratitude for the blessings and lessons of the year. Sobremesa!
Freddie shared a letter from her mission president that touched my heart with it’s messages. I felt gratitude once again for the pilgrims, learned something about Joseph Smith’s progenitors, and realized that Joseph F. Smith could have said to me on Thanksgiving day were he here, ‘Sister Jewkes, all this and the gospel, too?’
In 1620 a small ship left the Plymouth harbor bound for the New World. Its name would go down in history—the Mayflower. The 102 people aboard the ship were composed of religious Separatists, servants, and crew. The Separatists, or Pilgrims as we now call them, left their mother country reluctantly. They sought only what they believed to be a God-given right—the right to worship according to the dictates of their own conscience. They believed that the Christian “Church” had abandoned many of the plain and precious doctrines of Christ’s original church. They called themselves “Saints” and they referred to one another as “Elder” and “Sister.” Theirs was a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing marked by an amazing rescue at sea of an indentured servant who had been swept overboard. His name was John Howland. Howland later recalled that he felt strongly that he had been preserved for some divine destiny which he did not yet know. He was...for he became the great-great-great-grandfather of Joseph Smith. Howland became a free man in the new American colony of Plymouth and married the orphan daughter of two devout Pilgrims, Elizabeth Tilley. Elizabeth’s parents were among the half of the passengers and crew who did not survive that first, brutal winter aboard the Mayflower where they suffered from exposure, scurvy, and outbreaks of contagious disease while they waited for the snows to thaw. By spring, nearby Indian tribes came to rescue those 53 passengers who still remained alive. They taught them how to hunt, fish, plant, and survive in the American wilderness. Was it any wonder that when harvest came, the colony set aside a 3 day fast and Thanksgiving to honor their Indian friends?
The Prophet Joseph Smith is reported to have said that one of the greatest sins which the Latter-day Saints would be guilty of in the last days would be the sin of ingratitude. Brigham Young repeated a similar warning. President Ezra Taft Benson mentions all this in a Thanksgiving message found in the November 1976 New Era. “I do not think this is because we are less grateful than other people, but we have so much more to be grateful for. “ He then tells the story of his grandfather, George Taft Benson, bishop of the Whitney, Idaho Ward. Elder Joseph F. Smith visited the old Oneida Stake which comprised the Whitney Ward and took a meal with Grandfather Benson. “The table was laden with good things to eat. The family was gathered around… Just before they were ready to start the meal, President Smith stretched his long arms over the table and turned to my grandfather and said, “Brother Benson, all this and the gospel too?”
Espen Peter was blessed today. When Josh started the blessing and I heard the name, I thought how perfect that name seemed – it just fits. Josh gave Espen a beautiful blessing of health, promise, and future. And then at the end he blessed him with the gift of charity. That little baby boy is loved so much and will return that love as he grows. We all gathered at Josh and Dagmar’s last night to watch BYU go down in defeat to the U and it should have never happened, especially with Emily singing ‘Rise and shout, the Cougars are out…!’
And that’s the week’s update…