Walking our Faith: Have your best Thanksgiving
Walking our Faith
On Sunday, the Summit Daily News ran a memorial in honor of Marie Zdechlik — a wife, mother, nurse and Frisco resident for more than 50 years — who passed away at the age of 92. Seeing her beautiful picture taking up half of the front page made me proud to live in a community where celebrating the life of a resident would be deemed the most important news of the day.
On Thursday, we will gather around tables with family, friends or, in some cases, complete strangers to celebrate Thanksgiving. It will be for me, as for many other people, a day of rituals. For me, the day starts with watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade while I make my favorite corn bread sausage stuffing.
Thanksgiving is the most traveled day of the year, so while I’m going no further than a short drive into Breckenridge, many will go by train, plane or bus to visit families who we might see once a year.
For some reason, the journey doesn’t always bring out the best in us when we finally gather at the table, especially if there’s a cocktail or two involved and most especially if the conversation turns to politics or religion.
The crazy thing is, I don’t believe any of us head to a family gathering thinking, “Oh, I can’t wait to argue with my beloved parent/child/relative who I’ve looked forward to seeing so much that I gladly braved 12 hours of relentless travel.”
I’m willing to bet that before we walk in the front door, our hearts are actually filled with joyful anticipation. Yet, somehow all that excitement gets channeled into dredging up old family grievances. Instead of expressing our joy, we express our resentment.
But I think I’ve found a solution to this tired old trope. It’s advice Father Emmanuel once gave me. He said that whenever I am tempted to judge someone, before I say what I am thinking, I should think of something good about that person and offer that instead.
Ever since he shared that wisdom, I’ve been putting it into practice. I can honestly attest that not only does it make me a lot less judgmental, it also makes me a happier person.
Jesus was very good at looking for the positive in those his community had rejected because they were different. As a result, the compassion they received from Christ transformed their lives. They in turn shared the miracle of love with others.
Let’s try Jesus’ example as we gather around the Thanksgiving table. Or on Wednesday, as we line up in overcrowded airport security lines or find ourselves in a parking lot on Interstate 70 or in a real parking lot on Black Friday fighting over the last big screen TV.
Instead of jumping to conclusions about the person blocking our way, instead of muttering something unkind under our breath, let’s try to see ourselves in the other person. Let’s look for the good in them, just as we hope they will look for the good in us.
What if instead of waiting until someone has died to list all their wonderful qualities, we extend them grace and love by telling them what they’ve meant to us while they’re still alive? What if our gathering was a chance to share more than a meal, but gratitude that we are blessed to be together?
I wish you all a welcoming and miraculous Thanksgiving
Cornbread sausage dressing recipe
- 5 cups cornbread, crumbled (I baked my own, but you can buy it already baked)
- 4 cups cubed, toasted bread cubes (I used store-bought, day-old baguettes I lightly toasted in the oven until they were dry)
- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon rosemary leaves finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves finely chopped
- 1 pound ground pork sausage (hot, sage or your choice)
- 1 cup celery, diced, including celery leaves
- 1 medium sweet onion diced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
Put the cornbread and bread cubes into a large bowl, add half-and-half, eggs and herbs, and allow the bread to absorb the liquid.
Cook the sausage. Place in a separate bowl. In the same frying pan, with the grease from the pork, cook the celery and onion until softened. Add the vegetables to the bowl with the sausage. Allow it cool, then add it to the bowl containing the cornbread mixture. Mix together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Put mixture into baking dish, add broth so that the dressing is moist. Let stand for 30 minutes for liquid to be fully absorbed into the bread.
Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees until heated through and top is crisp.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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