“Thanksgiving is exercising our memories in the presence of the Source of all of my blessings.” Jill Briscoe
The last two years my Thanksgiving holidays have been celebrated in the cold, crisp, snowy atmosphere of southern Oregon. This year it will be in the tropical, dusty, sandy brown atmosphere of Mali, on the opposite side of the globe.
Previously the table sagged beneath the weight of turkey, dressing, potatoes, gravy, pie and fudge. The lights danced across china and crystal while family and friends drifted between conversations and small groups, catching up on a year of life.
This year the table will be makeshift to accommodate those sharing the day away from home. It should easily bear the two small chickens we located and the myriad side dishes we each contribute.
Our nuclear family members will be remembered and represented by those God has placed in our lives “for such a time as this.” The ambience of light depends on whether or not electricity is available and china and crystal relegated to our imaginations. The menu is contingent on what groceries and tidbits we’ve located, traded or bartered. My Thanksgiving is never complete without fudge and this year I located the only lady in all of Bamako who possesses real chocolate chips. They are as valuable as gold! A second lady graciously offered her old marshmallows when she realized the potential concoction, and I am giddy with the possibilities.
Thanksgiving is an American holiday and totally unknown in Africa where day-to-day survival leaves little time for such luxuries. I will spend the day preparing food – the whole day as we will be doing it “the old fashioned way.”
I don’t believe there is a hand mixer among us – how in the world did our grandmothers mash potatoes without one? As a matter of fact, our objective is to succeed without candy thermometers, meat thermometers, espresso machines, coffee pots, electric carving knives and bread machines! Perhaps freedom from “gadgets” will remind us of the freedoms our forefathers so diligently guarded.
I was admittedly reluctant to experience another “first” in my life – spending the holiday away from family and friends. However, God graciously placed college students here in Mali to be “loved on” as I will be far away from my own daughters.
I heard a quote a few months ago that has had a lasting impact on my perspective.
“Thanksgiving is exercising our memories in the presence of the Source of all of my blessings.” I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Source of all my blessings is the God of the Universe. This Thanksgiving I will exercise my memories, which are too numerous to count, in the presence of their Source. I will not “miss” Thanksgiving.
View the original print magazine where this article was first published.