The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
November 21, 2020
A diverse and varied host of religious and non-religious people annually celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. What is really unique about Thanksgiving measured against other major holidays is its ability to be inclusive. Everyone can be included into a day of enjoyment focused on being thankful and sharing the bounty of meals, family and friends.
Yet, here we are in November 2020 approaching a very different holiday season. Decisions must be made on how we celebrate during a pandemic. Do families travel and gather together? Do families even gather from the same town or city? Are we protecting loved ones who may be vulnerable? And how do we weigh the odds between logic and emotion? We want to be with our loved ones. We want to hug and laugh and share a meal of thankfulness. We want to celebrate traditions.
Change is hard. Some people may have to sit down at the table without Aunt Jane and her cheesy cauliflower, or Grandma Rita's sweet potato souffle. And those grilled brussels sprouts, orange cranberry cookies and Uncle Joe's snoring in front of the big game.
We will be reaching deep to remind ourselves of the real reason for Thanksgiving, the moments big and small of the year past and hopes for the year ahead.
These ponderings had me thinking about what keeps me going, what helps me hold on to my faith and hope in times of hardship and adversity. As a small child, I begged to go to Sunday School when I was too young to go to regular school. My mom found a local church and dutifully dropped me off and picked me up each Sunday. Teachers encouraged us to memorize Bible verses and we were given stars each time we did. Simple verses at first but as I grew older and my family joined the church and we became regular attendees, the verses memorized grew more difficult in length and understanding. I persevered because I loved gold stars and eventually loved the verses as well. They have followed me through my lifetime and have been a source of strength and endurance in a complicated world.
Not everyone had Sunday School or gold stars of encouragement to memorize scripture. Perhaps some are ready to start now and others ready to add more. Tehachapi resident Kay Bryant has written a book on daily devotions and promises of God, "Your Promised Life," which guides the reader from A to Z on how to find insight and practical ways to incorporate faith and spiritual truths everyday. Gathering more verses to memory provides a reservoir of inspiration for when personal life gets hard and to help when friends face hardships, when neighbors or co-workers are in despair. The memorized verses become a map toward finding pathways through human experiences at the very moment needed. On page 112, the author includes the verse, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God." Philippians 4:6. Bryant then encourages the reader to write down in the space provided all the things to be thankful for this day. I found her approach to spiritual growth and memorization very easy to follow and inspiring.
Another Tehachapi author, Lauraine Snelling, has written a large number of faith-based books that bring the reader into the fictional lives of many characters. They put faith to work in everyday surroundings and it can be very healing and encouraging to read fiction as a way to learn and grow as well.
Snelling's most recent publication is "A Blessing to Cherish," which follows the life of immigrant Ingeborg Bjorkland and is the final book in her Bjorkland family saga. If you enjoy this series, you are in for many good reads. Snelling has written multiple series and over 70 books are waiting for you.
"The Thankful Book" by Todd Parr is boldly illustrated and empowering for all family members from young to old. It brings a joyful spirit into thankfulness, reminding us how much we truly have in both our blessings and struggles.
This book is perfect to be shared through this Thanksgiving and fall season, with families and friends, in person, on Facetime or Skype, in whatever circumstance you find yourself. It was meant to be read over and over again.
May we all bring our thankfulness into whatever circumstance we face through the holidays to come. Generate kindness, share with others what we have, accept from others what they give. Fall is a season of completeness, the cycle of growing into harvest. And before we rest into winter, let us practice to be ever thankful with each breath.
*Midge Lyn'dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.