Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful For Family Traditions

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today as my family gathers, we will share a story that I have related once before on this blog. As a reminder of how we can build values into the lives of our families, I will publish it here again:

One Swiss-German branch of my family settled near Springfield, IL in the 18oos, and there is a story about them that has been told in my dad's family for generations around the Thanksgiving table. In the story, the father (who was also a minister in their little church) and the boys were out working about the farm place, and the mother, daughters (among them my great-great grandmother), and smaller children were in and around the house. There had been rumors floating about for several days that there were Indians in the area, and every one was nervous about safety. It was early spring and the father was doing early field work, when his son ran to him and said that there was an Indian standing at the edge of the woods, watching them. The father told his son to run back to the house and have the family gather in the house and shut the door. The son asked the father if he should load the gun they had in the house. The father said no. He was going to talk to the Indian, if he could, and God would protect him.

The family shut themselves in the house and were very worried. The father was gone a long time. When he finally returned, his first words on entering the house were, "Children, go down in the cellar and bring up everything that's left of the food." Then he turned to his wife and said, "They don't want to hurt anyone. They're starving, and we are going to feed them." With his family's help, he loaded their wagon with everything they had left in the cellar, and drove it down to where the Indians were camped by the river, and gave it all to them.

As best I can tell, this is a Trail of Tears story. At least my ancestors were able to mitigate that evil to some degree.

My great-great grandmother was just a little girl when she witnessed this, but it was one of her strongest memories. She would recount it at Thanksgiving dinner, and always ended by saying something like, "You never know who might need your help, so keep watch. Never be selfish. You should always share with anyone who is in need. Even though we gave all the food away, we some how had enough to eat until the garden came in. That's how we learned to be thankful for what we had."

Isn't that a great story? I've never been asked to give everything I have for sustenance away to some one in need, and then rely on God to fill in the gaps. But at least I have that story as an example to me that it can, and should, be done.

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Farmer's Daughter said...

What a wonderful story. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Everydaywoman said...

Thanks for sharing this heart-warming story! I bet you've shared it with your family many times about the Thanksgiving table since. We've started a new tradition by going around the family table and each taking a turn to say what they're thankful for. Client/friends of ours did this last year and we were so touched to hear that one of their sons said they were so thankful for our family because we were building their new home at the time. We sent them a note with our own thanks this year and started this within our family, which I hope will continue. I was just about brought to tears when my husband said that he was thankful that I said "yes" 31 years ago. My 86-year-old Mom just beamed, too.
Thanks for all of your thankful inspiration!


Joyce said...

Abbie, Ruth, glad you liked the story. I think we should start the going around the table tradition, too, although we do something like that at birthday get-togethers, tellling what we love or admire about the birthday person. I know last year, when grace was said, we were thankfull that my dad survived a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery, and that we had a new grandchild. So much to be thankful for!
Abbie, reading your post made me remember that not everyone gets a "day off" for Thanksgiving!