Thursday, November 28, 2013

That First Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you'll spend this day with friends and family. I've posted a lot about my own family's gathering. I'm reminded today of that first gathering, a celebration after the sacrifice wrought by parents who riske...d everything to follow their conscience, to make a better life for their children and the generations that would follow. Conscience and principle meant more to them than the lives they risked on the daring venture they undertook. Their spirit is woven into the fabric of this country, and her people. Today, I give thanks for them, and for this land which I love so dearly. Which we all love so dearly. Enjoy the festivities, and as we do, let's remember that this day, as much as any other we celebrate, is about sacrifice, and conscience, about principles and freedom.

Love to all. Here's some sweet records from that first dinner. Enjoy.

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These tender messages from those who attended the first Thanksgiving are provided by PILGRIM HALL MUSEUM. Other lovely letters, and information is available at their web site as well.

This evocative painting, titled "The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth," was painted by Jennie A. Brownscombe (1850-1936), in Honesdale, PA, or New York, in 1914.

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There are 2 (and only 2) primary sources for the events of autumn 1621 in Plymouth : Edward Winslow writing in Mourt's Relation and William Bradford writing in Of Plymouth Plantation.

Edward Winslow, Mourt's Relation :

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a speciall manner rejoyce together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labours ; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninetie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others. And although it be not always so plentifull, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plentie.

"In modern spelling"our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

William Bradford, Of Plimoth Plantation :In the original 17th century spelling:

"They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health & strenght, and had all things in good plenty; fFor as some were thus imployed in affairs abroad, others were excersised in fishing, aboute codd, & bass, & other fish, of which yey tooke good store, of which every family had their portion. All ye somer ther was no want. And now begane to come in store of foule, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they tooke many, besids venison, &c. Besids, they had about a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corn to yt proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their freinds in England, which were not fained, but true reports."

In modern spelling:

"They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports."

NOTE : The Mayflower arrived in Plymouth in December of 1620. No further ships arrived in Plymouth until immediately after that "First Thanksgiving" - the Fortune arrived in November of 1621.

One of the passengers on the Fortune, William Hilton, wrote a letter home that November. Although he was not present at that "First Thanksgiving," he does mention turkeys.


THE 53 PILGRIMSAT THE FIRST THANKSGIVING :
4 MARRIED WOMEN : Eleanor Billington, Mary Brewster, Elizabeth Hopkins, Susanna White Winslow.5 ADOLESCENT GIRLS : Mary Chilton (14), Constance Hopkins (13 or 14), Priscilla Mullins (19), Elizabeth Tilley (14 or15) and Dorothy, the Carver's unnamed maidservant, perhaps 18 or 19.9 ADOLESCENT BOYS : Francis & John Billington, John Cooke, John Crackston, Samuel Fuller (2d), Giles Hopkins, William Latham, Joseph Rogers, Henry Samson.13 YOUNG CHILDREN : Bartholomew, Mary & Remember Allerton, Love & Wrestling Brewster, Humility Cooper, Samuel Eaton, Damaris & Oceanus Hopkins, Desire Minter, Richard More, Resolved & Peregrine White.22 MEN : John Alden, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, William Bradford, William Brewster, Peter Brown, Francis Cooke, Edward Doty, Francis Eaton, [first name unknown] Ely, Samuel Fuller, Richard Gardiner, John Goodman, Stephen Hopkins, John Howland, Edward Lester, George Soule, Myles Standish, William Trevor, Richard Warren, Edward Winslow, Gilbert Winslow.
FAMILY GROUPS :
ALDEN : John
ALLERTON : Isaac with children Bartholomew, Mary, Remember; the Allerton servant William Latham
BILLINGTON : John & Eleanor with sons Francis, John Jr.
BRADFORD : William
BREWSTER : William & Mary with sons Love, Wrestling; their ward Richard More
BROWNE / BROWN : Peter
CARVER: The Carver ward Desire Minter; the Carver servant John Howland; the Carver maidservant Dorothy.
CHILTON : Mary
COOKE : Francis with son John
CRACKSTON : John
EATON : Francis with son Samuel
ELY: Unknown adult man
FULLER : Samuel with nephew Samuel 2d
GARDINER : Richard
GOODMAN : John
HOPKINS : Stephen & Elizabeth with Giles, Constance, Damaris, Oceanus; their servants Edward Doty and Edward Leister.
MULLINS : Priscilla
ROGERS : Joseph
STANDISH : Myles
TILLEY : Elizabeth
TILLEY: Tilley wards Humility Cooper and Henry Samson
TREVOR / TREVORE : William
WARREN : Richard
WINSLOW : Edward & Susanna with her sons Resolved White & Peregrine White; Winslow servant George Soule
WINSLOW : Gilbert
Note : In Of Plymouth Plantation, William Bradford lists the Mayflower passengers and also tells us who died during the first winter of 1620/1621 and spring of 1621. No other ships arrived in Plymouth until after the "First Thanksgiving" celebration. The Pilgrims at the "First Thanksgiving" are all the Mayflower survivors.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Gratitude Post: "The Good Ole Days"

Tom's favorite station is Encore Westerns, ergo, we watch a lot of Bonanza and Gunsmoke reruns, and other fare where white-hatted heroes risk life and limb for noble causes like their sacred honor, the virtue of womenfolk, the good of neighbors and country, the family farm, and the local bank where all the locals' life savings is likely stored. They were simple themes that reflected the core values of America. They were the good ole days.

I read "Make Way For Ducks," with my grandkids and missed the scenes of a slower time when people sat on park benches and chatted in the sun, when a treasured toy was made from wood and powered by imagination, when you could have a blast with change pulled from between the lint in your pocket.

I imagine that our children and grandchildren will look back on these days in the future, and say, "They were the good ole days." So whatever your good ole days really are, I'm grateful for them.  They serve as a cultural barometer of where we are, where we're headed, and how we're doing. Memories of them promise that we can enjoy them again and again, because the core principles that fueled them are still within us.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gratitude Posts, Friday, November 22

For a techno-newbie like me, the Internet and computers are still a wonder. I remember the old data-processing rooms at school where monster-sized machines that could sort punch cards were the marvel of the day. I now literally hold libraries in my hand, along with a comprehensive glimpse of all facets of my life. It's incredible.

As an author, I can research files and collections from around the globe, take virtual tours of buildings, cities, and even countries. Any subject about which I care to learn is laid open to me, limited only my my imagination and curiosity.

I can make new friends, connect with old friends, and speak to loved ones faraway as if they were in the next room. I can dream of a new challenge, research it, and arrange to fulfill it with a few simple keystrokes. I saw a recipe for a homemade body scrub. Within minutes I had not only studied the steps for making it but I had the ingredients winging their way to my home. Marvelous!

I know more about my ever-changing world than I can process, and I have at my fingertips the means and power to have my own voice and opinions broadcast far and wide without leaving my chair. But so can others, and so we enter a world that requires careful filtering. There are no worldwide editors checking for accuracy or value in what we might find here, and no Internet police protecting us from material that assaults sensibilities. Each who enters the cyber-world holds a Pandora's box of choices, which not only challenges our minds, but our ethics.

With that in mind, I still rejoice over the possibilities this technology affords me, for the expanded opportunities to learn, to grow, to entertain, and to communicate. And for that, I am very grateful.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

GRATITUDE POSTS, November 20, 2013

I've spent the past week fretting over paint colors, redoing a tired bathroom, then recovering from twisting my body around in weird ways to paint the wall and trim above the tub. My house is growing old, and like its owners, it needs some love and help here and there, but I still love this old place. This is the winter view from the front porch.

The dreams of a comfy house on several sprawling acres played out well for our growing family, but now Tom and I are the last Lews left, and our days on this old place are likely numbered, and that is a sobering truth.

Though we've painted and changed things a bit, each room remains a time capsule of memories. Joshua was the only newborn brought home to this house. Adam, Amanda, and Tom arrived in stairsteps from one to five years, but they all grew here, graduated and launched their lives from here. Their bedrooms still have some of their stuff squirrelled away in closets and drawers. Stuff they pull out on semi-annual visits home during their own momentary retreats into childhood. Our oldest son is 35 and he occasionally runs down the hall and jumps on our bed to demonstrate the belly-flop technique his perfected on Sundays after church.

The voices are silent now, but I can remember the quiet talks over broken hearts and after disciplinary incarcerations, laughter in abundance, and prayers spoken by bedsides. I remember snuggling under blankets and eating popcorn as we watched the old Christmas specials, and the weekly games of Monopoly that almost always degraded into a war. Three walls still have scars from wrestling matches and overly exuberant, plaster-cracking hugs. Peace and love at home was not measured by stillness but by volume, and numbers of feet as kids gathered in a no-alcohol, no-tobacco, my-momma-will-kill-you-if-you-swear household after games, after proms, and after plays. Our kitchen became the Little Debbie Cake-eating capital of the world.

I'm actually crying as I write this thing. That's how strong the memories are, but you know. You have powerful memories of your own that are tied to places and moments you'll treasure always.

So the day will eventually come when we'll hand the key over to someone new, hopefully to a family with lots of kids, and we'll settle elsewhere, in a smaller house on less land, to make a new generation of memories. But for today, I'm grateful for this old house, and for the privilege of raising our tribe here.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

GRATITUDE GIVEAWAY

Many thanks to Kathy Habel at "I Am A Reader Not A Writer" for sponsoring this blog hop, and for giving me an opportunity to say "Thank you," to my readers who have hung in with the blog this year, even when life interrupted my ability to post regularly.

As is the custom on this particular hop, this one's for you. No hoops to jump through, no long lists of duties.

If you're already a follower of this blog, all you have to do to enter is to  . . . well . . . enter! Post a little note below and make sure to include an email address.

If you're not a follower, I'd love you follow and come back, but it's not necessary to enter this hop.

My prize is a package of four books. John Grisham's Skipping Christmas has been gently read, but the other three books are new, off my author's shelf.

I'll autograph them for the winner, or for someone else if the winner chooses to give them away as gifts.

Again, many thanks for another year of support and friendship. I hope your holidays are lovely and peaceful.

Laurie L.C. Lewis

PS...  Now enjoy these other stops on the hop!


GRATITUDE POST, November 14, 2013, "CHILDREN"

I met an adorable wisp of a child last night. This exuberant four-year-old weighed about a breath, and half of that was her mop of strawberry-colored hair and her smile. Many of her teeth were already missing or filled, and as she told me about the dentist who "fixed her mouth," she jiggled like gelatin with energy that, if harnessed, could have powered all her toys and the TV she loves so much.
 
She mimicked her favorite movie characters--frightening monsters I was surprised such a little sprite even knew, like Godzilla, who she said is really nice and her friend; the bad gremlins, of whom she gave a five-minute impression, complete with crossed-eye snarls and extended claws; and Chucky, who she agreed was very bad.

She brought me a shoe-box filled with grass and flowers. Inside was her pet--a wooly bear caterpillar--who she protected with angelic care.
She sang a song, performed a gymnastics routine which showed incredible talent, and at the end of our visit, she said a little prayer, leapt into my arms, and kissed my cheek. I was in love.

Her circumstances are not ideal, and her mind has been exposed to ideas far beyond her years. When she began to tell me how she wanted to get big, I asked her not to grow today. Maybe tomorrow, or another day, but not today, because she was already perfect.

I'm so grateful for children. They hold the collective conscience of the world in their eyes, and like human barometers, we can generally tell how we're doing by studying our children.

I love their diversity. I see it in my own grandchildren--the sandbox builders, the truck enthusiasts, the technology wizards, the musician, the dancer/gymnast, and the two for whom love is encapsulated in anything round and bouncy.

What would life be without children? For them, I am so very grateful.

Here is a fascinating photo-essay of children around the world and their favorite possessions. Enjoy!
 
 

 

GRATITUDE POST, November, 13

I am grateful for food, and electricty, and how those two things make life easier. Let me explain.

On one of my research trips to Williamsburg I picked up a replica of a colonial cookbook. As I thumbed through the recipes I was impressed by the variety and sumptuousness of the foods.  Of course, our forefathers could only eat what was in season, or what could be preserved. No strawberries in February, and no iced drinks during the dog-days of summer.

One of my favorite cooking shows was "Dinner Impossible." Each week the star chef would be dropped in some impossible setting with the challenge to prepare a feast using what was available. My favorite episode involved the preparation of a colonial feast in Williamsburg, using only the utinsels, cooking methods, and ingredients common to a colonial home, garden, pantry, and farmyard. They had to dress their own meat.

Let it suffice to say that watching that show gave me a new appreciation for pulling up at a drive-through window to buy a bucket of fried chicken. In our forefather's day, a similar meal would have required a hard day's labor and a compound of skills ranging from the athleticism required to catch the bird; the stomach for killing, gutting, and plucking its carcass clean; the woodsman skills to build a sufficient fire, and the culinary ability to turn it into something delectible. And that's just the meat for the dinner!

So today, I'm giving thanks for fruit in and out of season, for pantries, and refrigerators, and stoves, and everyone in the food chain who makes the earth's bounty available to me.
See More
 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

GRATITUDE POST, November 12, 2013

Today's gratitude post is about the Phillipine situation. It's impossible to read or listen to the news and not anguish for those suffering there. As rescue planes take off, thousands are left standing in muddy ground, some holding babies in their arms, others clasping the hands of stunned children, as others try to save a few precious reminders of their former home and life, praying for their chance to reach safety.

Basic necessities of life--food, water, sanitation--are already in short supply, while people awaiting shipments from relief agencies and church foundations, but these agencies rely on the generosity of others. Of us.

So today, I'm grateful for a roof over my head, for a bed, and dry clothes. For food in abundance, clean water, and a few extra dollars in the bank to weather the tiny storms I face. I'm in a position to make a small difference, to donate a few dollars, maybe to eat one less meal out and instead, cook from a full pantry, to fund the work of rescue for a people with nearly nothing. Today I am truly grateful for all these blessings I generally take for granted.

Here is a link to a list of approved agencies that need funds to aid the relief effort. God Bless.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/10/help-typhoon-haiyan-relief-effort
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Monday, November 11, 2013

GRATITUDE POSTS, November 11, 2013

I received a beautiful letter from a reader of my Free Men and Dreamers books who shared a remarkably tender story with me. Her name is Diane Wilson, and this true story came from her father-in-law. It was so personal and painful, he only shared it one time, but as you'll see from the story, the details remained excruciatingly close to him all his life. Here it is, in her own words. She gave me permission to share it.

"My father-in-law was a prisoner of war of the Japanese during World War II. He was on the Philippians when McArthur surrendered the islands after the bombing of Pearl Harbor; he wasn’t released until the war’s end, at which time he and the prisoners he was with were in Japan.

Dad once told the story of how one of the men in his unit had a small American flag folded and kept in his breast pocket. On special occasions (4th of July, Thanksgiving. and even Christmas… those holidays when the men’s hearts turned away from the tortures... they endured and focused on family and memories of happier times), the men would gather and this soldier would take out the flag, reverently unfold it, and all would stand as best they could and repeat the Pledge of Allegiance. Then the soldier would carefully refold the little fag and again protectively place it in his breast pocket.

Up until Dad’s death last year, whenever he saw a flag in a parade, at a ball game, or in a ceremony, his shoulders would begin to shake, large tears would roll down his face as great sobs would take over. The flag represented freedom to him… home, family, country. It brought back memories of the men he was imprisoned with and the sacrifices each made. Many of his friends simply gave up; those were very emotional memories for Dad. He was a true patriot who loved his country and it’s symbol, the American flag. Dad was given full military honors for his burial, and the flag he loved so dear draped his casket."

Thank you, Diane, for sharing that. My family posed for this photo at Fort McHenry where we commemorated the great Battle of Baltimore, and another grand old flag. Thank you to all the veterans, and those currently serving, who made and keep this country and our families free, and to all these brave warriors' families who sacrifice we cannot adequately repay.

For them, for all of them, I am truly grateful.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

BOOK NOOK REVIEW: "How I Became a Teenage Survivalist" by Julie L. Casey

How I Became  Teenage Survivalist
 
by
Julie L. Casey

Bracken is a sixteen-year-old Midwest boy preoccupied with the normal teenage concerns. The background hum of his world revolves around farm life at home with his parents, school, the normal one-upmanship between him and his older brother Alex, his annoyance with his younger brother Calvin, and the inch of skin playing peek-a-boo between Silky Henderson’s belt line and shirt each time the girl leans forward.

But all that changes drastically when a series of explosions rock the area, throwing the school into immediate lockdown while fires and smoke rise in the town. They are told that “PF Day,” or Power Failure Day, is the result of a huge solar storm, effectively catapulting residents back to an era before electricity.

Somewhat secluded, Bracken’s town and family have no idea of the expanse of the problems, so they hunker down and rely of the skills of their grandparents and the bounty their farming community can provide. Services are out, including schools, so Bracken’s mother encourages him to keep a journal chronicling the effects of PF Day and their efforts to carry on life. How I Became a Teenage Survivalist is Bracken’s journal.

From the backcover:

Bracken is a typical teenage boy, more interested in the angles of the girl's exposed back teasing him from the seat ahead of him than in anything the geometry teacher could present. His life is filled with school, video games, and thoughts of girls, not necessarily in that order. Life just flows along uneventfully and unacknowledged, like the electricity that courses through the power lines — until PF (Power Failure) Day. On PF Day, the sun strikes Bracken's world with an unseen surge of electromagnetic fury, which cripples power stations and burns transformers to crispy nuggets of regret. 

No one in Bracken's world had ever thought about how much they depended on electrical power, but now, without it, they are plunged into survival mode. Without electricity there is no communication, no modern conveniences, and soon, no modern means of transportation, as the reserves of refined gasoline run dry. Worse still is the failure of the water and sewer systems, the impossibility of getting food and supplies to people living in cities, and the deaths of millions of people from starvation, disease, and lack of medical care. 

Bracken soon realizes how lucky he is to live on a farm in the Midwest. What seemed like a dull and backwards life before is now the greatest chance for survival in what seems like a powerless world. Food, water, and heat are readily available, although hard work is required to make use of them. Bracken and his family must learn to survive like their ancestors, who settled their land. Told in the first person, Bracken tells the story of how they not only survive, but how PF Day actually makes their lives better and more satisfying.

Told in first-person, we are in Bracken’s head. Ms. Casey paints her young hero as a na├»ve, emotionally young innocent, whose primary concerns are the absence of a social life and lack of entertainment, but from the first day we begin to see both the agonies and the quiet blessings the power failure causes as families unify, brothers “man-up,” and pull together to address family needs and challenges.

As time passes with little technical advance, word of the expanse of the disaster arrives. Bracken and his family’s preparation move from concerns over providing food, to defense, preparing for medical emergencies, and the need to prepare for a future without power.

Julie L. Casey has done an exquisite job showcasing the scope and challenges of such a disaster, and the creative solutions her characters employ make this a fascinating read. Readers interested in emergency preparedness will appreciate Casey’s inclusion of links and websites for further information on solar storms and survival.

I struggled with investing in Bracken's character initially. While his choices and actions portray him as dependable and mature, things change when we are "in his head." His side-bar conversations occasionally drift into silliness more attributable to a middle school-er, and I found his preoccupation with make-out sessions tedious and distracting. But Casey wisely allows him to grow and develop throughout the book, so hang on. By the middle of the book he emerges as a confident, tender, responsible, balanced young hero.

Readers take a leap of faith as they enter a new world constructed by an author. Casey’s book is worthy of a reader’s trust. She has done her research, and she delivers a creative read that will keep you turning pages, and have you questioning what you would do if you had to become a survivalist.

 How I Became A Teenage Survivalist is available on Amazon. It boasts two trailers. You can find them at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgEMbx-i_Sw#t=115 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoVrB1SlrC0.

GRATITUDE POSTS, November 10, 2013

I love Sundays. They're quieter now than when he had four additional sets of feet and arms looking for Sunday shoes, dresses, shirts, scriptures, and ties, but I chuckle as I envision my children going through the same Sunday dash to get their own little gaggles of geese out the door to Church on time.

I loved sitting as a family, being fed by good word of God, and that feeling that lingers back... at home as ideas and new understanding sparkle dinner conversations.

We decided early on that we'd do our best to see Sunday as the Sabbath and dial the world back on that day. The world can be so loud, so fast, and so intrusive at times. I grew to love Sundays more and more as that trend increased. We needed a break from it and we knew our kids did too. We were grateful God foresaw that before we did.

Sunday was spent together, doing things that exercised hearts and spirits, while building family bonds and love of God. Party invitations were politely declined, and jerseys remained in drawers that day. Siblings played with each other, and with us unless we had guests in. To ease the agony of peer separation we pulled out special games, built blanket forts, and I cooked my token Sunday roast or chicken which made arriving home feel like Thanksgiving. The boys had a strip contest in the car to see who could be down to pants only by the time we drove the two miles to home. (I cannot personally recommend the "strip contest.")

We had bumpy days, Family Nights that looked like a WWWF bout, and on more occasions than I care to recall, some Sundays ended with angry sibs squared off in solitary confinement until practicums in repentence and forgiveness were completed. But we also served others, read from the scriptures as a family, welcomed guests into our home, made great memories, and we learned wonderful things about one another.

I've been in all their homes, and yes, despite the best efforts at organization, my kids and their spouses still scramble for shoes and ties and books and talks Sunday mornings, but they still remain tightly bound to one another, which I attribute in great part to our Sunday traditions which really affected everything else in our collective lives. And for that, I am truly grateful.
 


Saturday, November 9, 2013

GRATITUDE POST, November 9, 2013

I was shopping at Costco with my Mom yesterday when we came upon two women pushing carts loaded with three beautiful children. My mom has always been unabashedly drawn to children, and since the onset of her dementia, she can't resist the urge to oogle, coo, and even reach and touch any cherubic toddler who shoots a smile her way, and so, when a precocious little five-year-old offered a cheerful "hi" to her, we were immediately engaged.

"Did you have a Happy Halloween?" I asked the boy.

 In a bold voice lacking any apology and without parental prompting, he replied, "We don't believe in Halloween."

"I see." I pull my foot from my mouth. "Are you excited about Thanksgiving?"

 "Yes," he replied, which was followed by his younger brother's rebuttalled "no."

The two women smiled at us and at the boys, of whom they had a right to be extremely proud. In a moment we were chatting like old friends, and the older of the two young women showed off her beautiful baby girl nestled in a carrier in her cart. We learned a bit about that family in a few moments. The women were sisters. The older of the two was the mother of the three children, while the younger aunt was there to lend a hand. Their accents told us they were born elsewhere, but their kindness made us feel like immediate friends.

Half an hour later, as Mom and I were searching our change purses for change to buy some water bottles the young aunt saw us and quickly offered two quarters to end the need to excavate the bottom of our purses in search of long lost coins. When she walked away my mother looked at me and smiled saying, "Most people are really wonderful, aren't they?"

"Yes, Mom. They are."

We forget that sometimes, or maybe we just get too busy to engage strangers very often, but most people really are wonderful. Most of them are kind, and generous, and many need an offered smile as much as we do. I wish we had had more time to chat. I felt I missed an opportunity to make two new friendships. I hope I take advantage of the next opportunity.

So my gratitude item today is that I'm grateful for good people, those I've already chanced to meet, and those I will yet encounter. For those whose kindness has rescued me in a moment of need, and for those whose passing smile has brightened my day when I may have needed a lift. We share more in common with most folks than our differences would lead us to believe. For that, I'm truly grateful.

GRATITUDE POST, November 8th, 2013

A sweet senior gentleman works behind my favorite deli counter. He moves a bit slower these days, which creates a smirk of frustration on some fast-pacers' faces, but he can describe every cheese, what goes best with each, and which brands give you the best flavor for your buck.
 
I likewise have a few favorite cashiers who, like me, have practically made the grocery store a second home. We chit cha...t about local news, rising prices, and holiday plans. They too are older. I don't know if they work because the socialization is worth eight-hour shifts on aged feet, or if they still must work to make ends meet, but they serve others with grace and a smile, and they make my day better.
 
They grew up in a time when hardy American values of hard work and community-building were deeply ingrained at kitchen tables, and while kneeling beside praying parents. They were a generation willing to make sacrifices equal to those of the Founders, with their hearts set on blazing trails for those who would follow rather than fretting over the ground under their own feet.
 
As I grow older and see the confusion many in our day have figuring out the purpose of life and their place in it, I am increasingly grateful for this generation. And so, they are the source of my gratitude today.

GRATITUDE

I've finished "The Dragons of Alsace Farm" and am now sending it out to medical/technical readers to make sure I have the psychological and medical scenarios right. While that process progresses I'm preparing my query letters for agents and researching agencies.

I've headed back to work on "The Shell Game" also, so the pistons are firing again.

My mother's struggle with dementia was the inspiration behind "The Dragions of Alsace Farm," and when I have her with me work stops so I can enjoy her and attend to her needs.

All in all, the year had been both amongst the hardest I've ever had, and the most spiritual. I have much for which to be grateful. And so I'm posting my Facebook gratitude posts on here as well. I was late getting started while I settled Mom back in, so I'm counting her and the time we get to share as my posts for the first week of November, but I'll posts the others as they go up.

I hope you have a marvelous autumn filled with blessings.

Laurie
***

November 7, 2013

I'm so grateful for my family--for a gentle, hardworking hubby. When I get frustrated over small things I generally only need to remember one of the many sacrifices he's made for us to recall how blessed I am. I adore my crazy-funny kids whose solid lives bolster me, and my diverse grandkids whose interests expand my world in unexpected ways.
 
I've read your posts about your families, and marvelled at how wonderful most families are. What a grand plan, to come here and experience life in a loving circle of courageous support. Yep. Today, I'm grateful for families.