Ulmer: Expressing gratitude at Thanksgiving

Ulmer: Expressing gratitude at Thanksgiving

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Since it’s the week of Thanksgiving, I won’t complain about the weather because most of us locals remember times when it’s been much worse.

I don’t know about your house but there are occasions when we think we’re a normal family and one of those times is Thanksgiving. We’re lucky in the sense that all of our kids and grandkids live in town so it’s quite easy to get together. As a matter of fact since we’re Presbyterian our Sunday school is held on Wednesday (don’t ask because I don’t know why).

As a result of this Grandma Renee prepares supper for our entire crew of 12 to 14 every Wednesday evening before Sunday school. Once the crew arrives around 5 p.m. our driveway looks like a used car lot as the crew pulls in and it’s emptied out by 6:20 p.m. in order to get to the church.

The evening starts off with Grandma Renee picking up the kids at school around 4 p.m. They usually remove their backpacks, shoes, coats and such in the front entryway which clogs up any safe passageway into the house. From there the kids head to wherever they want to go, television, toy box, or a round of hide and seek, a trek or five to the john. It’s not uncommon for me to stumble into one of them hidden in my bedroom, or behind our couch.

Around 5 p.m. the adults show up and for the next hour and a half our house comes alive, the decibels of everyone chattering, kids running from room to room, the adults gathering around chatting about their recent experiences or planning something for the days ahead. Yes, I’ll admit there have been a few times when Grandpa Dan has left the room for a moment of respite.

More often than not I don’t pay much attention to all the details that go into preparing supper because I’m usually engaged in chattering with someone about something that’s going on in their lives and I’m much better at eating than cooking. Therefore I’m never sure who does what but somehow the tables (it takes two to accommodate this crew) get set with all the necessary accouterments required to eat a meal (plates, silverware, napkins, condiments).

Around 5:45 Grandma Renee usually announces that it’s time to eat which seems to cause people to come out of the woodwork to gather around the table. Like most families there’s always some straggler in the bathroom or trying to finish up their video game while the rest of our tribe somewhat patiently awaits their arrival.

It’s here that the real ritual of being together gets underway. Each time our family gets together like this we all gather around the biggest table, grab each other’s hands and pray before digging into whatever is spread before us.

Being the eldest in the crew I usually end up saying the prayer and since I’m in the midst of a very hungry crew I usually make it as short as I can. I usually begin this prayer with the line, “Dear Lord, thank you for these precious moments together, be with us and help us do your work as we head forward from here.”

Once the word "Amen" is uttered the chaos returns as plates are filled and sustenance is consumed and conversations renewed. So as we enter this year’s holiday season I can’t adequately express my gratitude for the wonder filled life I have been granted.

I am surrounded by people I dearly love and for the record they seem to like me too and life doesn’t get any better than that. Hoping that you find yourself in the same situation. Happy Thanksgiving.

Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.

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