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EVANS: There is much to be thankful for this year

This week is Thanksgiving — a time when we gather at the table, share meals with friends and family and give thanks for all of our many blessings.

It is also a time when we look back at holidays past and relive those memories of all of the times we have celebrate, and in some cases, all of the times we have cried.

For many of us, Thanksgiving looks very different compared to the normal, and that in itself leaves us wishing for yesterday and longing for all of the moments that we so graciously cherish. The Bible says to give thanks with a grateful heart, so this week, I would like to express a few of the things for which I am thankful.

My house is always filled with loud noises and the echoes of children running through the hallway. With an 8 year old and a 6 year old, I am always finding myself saying, “Keep your hands to yourself,” and, “Don’t stick that in your nose.” T

This week I found myself realizing how big my boys have actually gotten. This morning, Facebook flashed a Christmas picture from two years ago, my handsome little men sitting in front of our large Christmas tree, smiling from ear to ear despite the fact I had forced them to wear real clothing instead of sweat pants.

In response, my sister posts how big he has gotten, talking about my 8 year old. It seems like just yesterday he was tiny and would look at me with a sparkle in his eye and his baby fat cheeks.

Just recently, he has shot up in height and those baby cheeks have slimmed out. He makes jokes and has found his own unique sense of humor. He and my youngest both have taken to watching those YouTube videos, you know the ones where we watch other kids play with toys that we have rather than playing with them ourselves. Despite that they aren’t babies any more, when I look at them, I see the wide eyes and big cheesy grins of my boys.

I can remember when I was young and would curl up on the sofa with my mom and my sister. We would talk about our futures and what it would be like when we became grown-ups.

I remember discussing how many kids we would have and what type of jobs we would have.

Recently, my youngest son has started to declare what it will be like when he is a grown up. First of all, he will eat McDonald’s all of the time, and secondly, he will live in the same neighborhood we live in now, because there are lots of stray cats.

He always says these things and maps out his future as he is scurrying away from the table to take on some new adventure. Yesterday, his mapping involved children. He announced to me, “If I get a kid, and I don’t want them, but if I get a kid anyway, I am going to lock it outside.”

I regularly lock my husband on the porch as a joke, and the kids always let him back in. When I told him his wife might not like that very much, he very quickly responded with, “I don’t want a wife.” I said nothing, but in the back of my mind was thinking about what an interesting life he would have in general.

Finally, as he bounds down the hallway, he says, “I will get a hamster so that I am not alone.”

In the eyes of my children, I see myself when I was a child and no doubt what my husband was like when he was a child. I can see slight echoes and slight shadows of what we were like when we were young.

My husband is a stay-at-home dad, and regularly his days more so than mine are spent reminding the children to wash their hands and to aim into the toilet instead of seeing how much pee they can bounce off the toilet lid. Oh boys!

A dear friend reminded me yesterday of how blessed I am. My husband has always stood by me no matter what adventure my mind had come up with. Numerous times he has stood on the side lines, quietly cheering me on as I shoot for my dreams. Not many husbands will happily stand on the side while their wives do whatever it is that they can possibly come up with.

He has been by my side as I decided to work part-time and go back to school. He encouraged me when I cried because calculus was way too hard. He watched me as I walked the stage and accepted three different degrees, each time encouraging me to do whatever it took to reach my goals.

When our kids were younger, only mommy would do. I can remember we would go to church and he would sit in the back attempting to keep them calm while I would preach. Time after time, he would quietly get up and slip out the back with a screaming baby in hand. Time after time, he would encourage me to keep going and not worry about it.

As I think about Thanksgivings that have come and gone, I am reminded of my family.

My parents are the kind that everybody loves. My mom taught us to love everyone and to love with everything in us.

My dad taught us to work for what we wanted and always reminded us that we could be and do whatever we wanted.

My mom loved every holiday and every family occasion. She worked tirelessly to make sure every meal was perfect and everyone would have a good time. I can remember when we were kids we would spend all day prepping and cooking Thanksgiving dinner. My mom would start the turkey before the sun had even come up and would work on it all day long.

As we grew up, she started putting the turkey in a little later. I will never forget when the turkey was not done. We made our plates and prepared to carve the turkey. My dad got out the carving knife and a fork and started to dig in, only to find that the turkey was not finished. Back in went the bird. A couple of hours later, we had filled up mostly on sides and had this fabulously hilarious story to tell.

As I sit here at the edge of a fabulous but different Thanksgiving holiday, I am filled with warm memories and cherished events.

I find myself thankful for those who I have been blessed to have in my life — my parents, my sister, my nieces, my brother in law, my husband, my mother and father in law, my wonderful boys and my church family and many friends. Each of you have been a light and an inspiration. Today and every day I am thankful for all that you are. Happy Thanksgiving.