Thanksgiving in Simpler Times

As I watched my kids’ eyes glaze over from too many video games one Thanksgiving years ago, I recalled my childhood Thanksgivings and realized how lucky I was. We celebrated the holiday at my grandparents’ farm in the days before video games, satellite dishes, streaming devices, computers, and iPhones. As a result, I now have priceless memories of Thanksgiving in simpler times.

Our celebration bordered on a full-blown family reunion for my dad’s side of the family. Grandma especially treasured Thanksgiving because it was her holiday. She always had the dinner at her house, and everyone knew it. It was tradition.

The excitement of Thanksgiving Day started on the drive over to Grandpa and Grandma’s. When we turned off the highway onto the country road, I knew we were almost there. The familiar words “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go” had special meaning to me because they echoed my own experience.

Each year as we reached the farmhouse lane, I wondered which cousins would be there to play with that day. We would have adventures for sure because there were always adventures to be had on the farm. With a little imagination, the lane became a dangerous road filled with wild creatures, rushing rivers, or deep gullies to cross. And cousins made it all the more exiting.

Sometimes we arrived early so my dad could go hunting with the men. He kept his bird dog Cindy on the farm, and she always went wild with excitement when she saw us. The men must have had great times on those hunts together because each time they came back talking, laughing, and poking each other with their elbows like they knew something the rest of us didn’t.

Meanwhile, we all feasted on the heavenly aromas that drifted out of Grandma’s kitchen. The smell of roast turkey, noodles cooking on the stove, and homemade rolls baking in the oven tantalized our taste buds.

When dinner was finally ready, Grandma called us to the kitchen where we gathered for the Thanksgiving blessing. Grandpa called on one of the men to pray, and what a prayer it would be. Our family had a deep Christian heritage and much to be thankful for, especially our Savior Jesus. On other days when Grandpa didn’t pass the privilege on to someone else, I loved to hear him pray. His heart was so full he almost always shed a tear or two when he gave thanks to his Lord.

Not only did our family know how to pray, we knew how to eat! Confident that all of our favorite foods would be there, we filled our plates from the vast array of delectable dishes covering the kitchen counter and stove.

Everything was made from scratch. Packaged noodles, rolls, and ready-made pie crusts were unheard of in our family. Just about every kind of pie known to man tempted us that day—and they were divine. Pumpkin pie was a certainty along with the mincemeat pie Grandma made especially for my dad, but we also got to choose from apple, cherry, lemon meringue, chocolate, coconut cream, and sometimes blackberry or peach. What a difficult decision! The adults usually tried slivers of several different kinds, but I had to have a whole piece. I didn’t like skinny pieces, and neither did the other kids.

The adults ate dinner in the dining room while we kids sat in the kitchen, but that was fine with us. We didn’t want to stick around for the boring conversation after dinner anyway. And we definitely wanted to be busy by clean-up time. We really didn’t have to worry about that, though, because the women seemed to fight for the chance to wash and dry the dishes. I didn’t understand that until I got older.

Since my grandparents didn’t have a television at that time, football didn’t dominate the afternoon. The grown-ups did lots of talking, and the kids did lots of playing and acting silly in general.

If the weather was bad, we played in the basement, which was home to a scary looking coal-eating furnace, Grandma’s washer, a bed, and shelves filled with jars of food from Grandma’s summer canning. We also had room for roughhousing and riding the little John Deere tractor Grandpa kept for us. The basement reverberated with our noise, and before long one of our parents would materialize out of nowhere and try to quiet us. Since that only seemed to work for a few minutes, everyone always hoped for good weather.

When the weather was good, we knew we could count on Grandpa to go outdoors with us. Tramping around the farm with him and listening to all his tall tales was pure heaven. Sometimes we played hide and seek in the barn or got real daring and walked the rafters. I was scared to death to do the things my country cousins dared me to do. I grew up in town and felt as if I was risking my life most of the time.

Grandpa also let us feed the chickens, help milk the cows, and chase the wild kittens that lived in abundance around the barn. He loved us and always made our visits fun.

Thanksgiving was a great day in the life of our family. I’ll be forever grateful, not only for my loved ones, but also for treasured memories of Thanksgiving in simpler times. And now? As I share these memories with my kids and grandkids, their simple country heritage will live on. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord!

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1 NIV

*What aspects of your Thanksgiving celebrations are you especially thankful for?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out early this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

Photo by Ali Gooya on Unsplash

Wedding Photos with Bride and Groom in Background

Looking for great wedding photo ideas, Mother of the Bride? See if the photographer could capture a few with the bride and groom in bokeh effect (an out of focus blur effect), using them as the background of a shot of something or someone else in the wedding.

The happy-couple-as-background bokeh shot above is actually a shot of the chair décor, but notice how having the bride and groom in a soft blur as a backdrop not only makes the shot artsy but extra special as well. The above shot’s style is so much more interesting and gorgeous than a simple straightforward shot of the chair and its décor, isn’t it?

Possibilities abound for photos using this bride and groom bokeh effect. In addition to chair or pew décor as the focus of the shot, the photographer could also use the cake, champagne glasses, the parents of the bride and/or groom, the gift table, or a floral arrangement as the focal point of the shot. The ideas could go on and on.

So, MOB, talk with your daughter and see if she’d like to mention bride and groom bokeh shots with the photographer. Beauty awaits!

*You might also like to read Wedding Photo Idea: Groom Admires His BrideWedding Day Photo Idea: Bouquets in a BunchPhoto Idea: Bridesmaids Blow the Groom a Kiss!Wedding Photo Idea: A Shared Faith, and Wedding Photo Idea: The Corner Shot.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out today. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*Flickr photo by charamelodyCreative Commons License

Wedding Day Photo: Groom Admires His Bride

Mother of the Bride, here’s a wedding day photo idea that shines with love—the groom admiring his bride from afar. This is a perfect example of when one simple photo speaks volumes. When one second in time holds the promise of an entire future.

Want to immortalize all that love your daughter’s beloved has for her? Show your daughter this photo and suggest a similar one for her dream-come-true day. I think she’ll give an enthusiastic thumbs up to add it to the list of photos you’ll ask the photographer to take.

And MOB, don’t forget to keep some tissues handy on the big day. You’ll need them as you watch photos like this being captured!

*You might also like to read Wedding Photo Idea: A Veiled Kiss, Wedding Photo Idea: Hideaway Moment, Wedding Photo Idea: A Shared Faith, and Wedding Photo Idea: The Corner Shot.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*Flickr photo by Katsu Nojiri, Creative Commons License

Wedding Day Photo: Bouquets in a Bunch

Mother of the Bride, I have a wedding day photo idea for you today that’s a real winner. This shot will be super simple for your photographer to set up but provides a colorful and gorgeous reminder of the day. Easy plus amazing. You can’t beat that!

I call this dynamite photo idea bouquets in a bunch. Simply have the bride hold her star-of-the-day bridal bouquet waist-high and then ask the bridesmaids to hold their bouquets all around hers. The effect is stunning as the bridesmaids’ bouquets encircle the bridal bouquet, showing off in glorious fashion not only the colors of the wedding, but the bride’s choice in flowers as well.

Why not suggest this perfect wedding day photo to your daughter, MOB? Then jot it down on the list of photos you’d like the photographer to take on her big day. You’ll be glad you did!

*You might also like to read Cute Idea for the Bride: Shoes to Match the Bouquet.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*Flickr photo by theinvinciblemom, Creative Commons License

Father-Daughter Dance Songs for Weddings

Mother of the Bride, can you guess what one of your most emotional moments will be on your daughter’s big day? If you guessed the Father-Daughter dance, you guessed right.

When your little-girl-turned-bride and her daddy take to the dance floor on wedding day, you might just come undone. Years of memories will flood your heart, and you’ll feel like you’re out there on the dance floor with them giving her away one final time. You may even feel like it’s your last hurrah as the most important family members in her life, but instead, try to see it as a wonderful tribute to all the love you’ve shared over the years.

To help your family prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime moment, here’s a list of great song possibilities for this special tribute dance. Run them past your husband and daughter and see which ones they’re drawn to. They may want to find the songs online and listen to them together. Another great memory in the making. Enjoy!

“In My Life” – the Beatles
“You Send Me” – Sam Cooke
“The Way You Look Tonight” – Frank Sinatra or Steve Tyrell
“Come Fly With Me” – Frank Sinatra
“My Girl” – The Temptations
“Isn’t She Lovely” – Stevie Wonder
“Unforgettable” – Natalie Cole with Nat King Cole
“Cinderella” – Steven Curtis Chapman
“My Wish” – Rascal Flatts
“What a Wonderful Life” – Louis Armstrong
“Butterfly Kisses” – Bob Carlisle
“How Sweet It Is” – James Taylor
“My Little Girl” – Tim McGraw
“Times of Your Life” – Paul Anka
“You Are the Sunshine of My Life” – Stevie Wonder
“I Loved Her First” – Heartland
“It Had to Be You” – Ray Charles
“Daughters” – John Mayer
“You Are So Beautiful” – Joe Cocker
“Daddy Dance With Me” – Krystal Keith

For now, MOB, get your hankie ready. I have a feeling you may need it. And that’s okay. The tears will just be love flowing from your eyes.

*You might also like to read Wedding Day First Dance Photo—Show Off Her Rings!, Budget Agreement with the Father of the Bride, and Guest List Help: Don’t Forget the Father of the Bride.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*Flickr photo by Barry.Lenard, Creative Commons License