A Year of Smiles – Day 326: THANKSGIVING DAY

Reason to SMILE and BE THANKFUL #326: THANKFULNESS

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Before the Thanksgiving meal each year, my family gathers together to pray. My dad usually says the blessing but before he prays, he is faithful to remind us of how good our God is, of the many blessings that have been bestowed upon our family and of the hope we have in Jesus. Dad reminds us to count our blessings and sometimes, he gives each family member the opportunity to name one thing for which he or she is thankful. It is a special time of Thanks Giving and though it usually makes me cry (because I am a huge crybaby), it always brings a SMILE to my heart.

In the midst of all your Thanksgiving festivities, remember to take the time to give thanks for all the blessings in your life. Everything that you call yours – your loved ones, your friends, your possessions, your job – is a gift from the Heavenly Father. He lavishes these blessings upon us because of His great love for us. The least we can do is pause for a moment to say, “Thank you.”

Giving thanks – what a fabulous reason for a holiday! And what a fabulous reason to SMILE! The great thing is, if you make Thanks Giving a daily habit, you’re guaranteed a daily SMILE.  Now, who wouldn’t want that? 😉

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A Year of Smiles – Day 325: Thanksgiving Countdown

Reason to SMILE and BE THANKFUL #325: THE AFTERNOON COMA

Plates have been emptied.

Bellies have been filled.

Belts have been loosened.

The afternoon food coma has begun.

As the miserable groans of overeater’s remorse begin to replace conversation, there’s nothing left to do but retreat to the living room and kick back in the recliner or relax on the couch. As a collective, my family doesn’t care much for “the game” (Unless it’s golf, which I don’t understand at all.) so our afternoon recuperation usually involves watching a movie. Let me clarify – a movie suitable for kids.

Yep. All of us from grandparents down to the kiddos sit together and watch the latest children’s movie. It’s fun to see who laughs the most, who makes it through to the end, who falls asleep and who bails on the family time first by pulling out their technology. I would name names but I do have to spend the entire day with these folks tomorrow so…

The afternoon food coma – it’s a SMILE that begins with the blissful agony of being stuffed to the gills, continues with a restful time of movies and relaxation and always ends with,

“Okay. Who’s ready for pie?”

My belt has no more notches (Heck, I’m not even wearing it anymore.) and my eyes are swimming in gravy but “Me, me, me! I’ll have a piece of pie!”

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And the SMILE of the Thanksgiving afternoon food coma keeps on giving. 😉

A Year of Smiles – Day 324: Thanksgiving Countdown

Reason to SMILE and BE THANKFUL #324: THE STORIES

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We all have them – stories about ourselves that only our families know, stories that our siblings use to hold us hostage or blackmail us into doing their chores or keeping their secrets, stories that will forever haunt not only our dreams but also our every waking moment. These are the tales of our past mistakes or those silly things we did when we were too young to know what we were doing. These are the anecdotes parents tell when the new boyfriend is introduced or the in-laws are invited to dinner. These are the stories we long to forget. Still, these stories are told over and over again.

Every.

Single.

Year.

Yeah, but isn’t it fun to sit around the dinner table, tell each other’s stories and laugh at each other’s embarrassment? And what better place to laugh at each other than at the Thanksgiving table?

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without our annual reminiscing sessions. Since there are six of us kids, there are plenty of stories to remember and retell and, therefore, plenty of opportunities to relive the humiliation, embarrassment or hilarious frivolity. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy remembering the time her older brothers held her down and tickled her til she couldn’t breathe from laughing so hard? Hmmm. I still don’t think that was a fun moment. That might be why I chased my brothers around the house with a baseball bat!

Family stories – even if they’re embarrassing, they’re still fun to remember. And there wouldn’t be quite as many SMILES at the Thanksgiving table without them!

A Year of Smiles – Day 323: Thanksgiving Countdown

Reason to SMILE and BE THANKFUL #323: FAMILY

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It’s unbelievable that I’ve gone all year without writing about such a fantastic SMILE! I’m glad I haven’t, though, because Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to reflect on the blessings of family.

I’m not sure I’d characterize my family as the typical family. We’re a larger family than most – two parents, three sons and three daughters. (“The Brady bunch, the Brady bunch, that’s the way we became the…” Sing it with me! Hehe! I couldn’t help myself!) We’re not a blended family. My parents have been married for 56 years. (Woohoo, Mom and Dad!) And of the six children, four of us are biological and two are adopted.

My siblings and I are all grown up (at least, physically – Hahaha! Gotta get those jabs in somewhere!) and have kids of our own. But we don’t all live close enough to see each other regularly. Although keeping in touch is not our greatest strength (I’ll be the first to admit that I’m horrible at it!), holidays give us the chance to either gather together or talk with each other over the phone.

Of course, my favorite times are when we can all get together.  I cherish those rare occasions. The picture below was taken at my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary (six years ago). Most of us were there; we were only missing one of my sisters and her kids.

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Awww! Look at those little munchkins! Where does the time go?

One thing is certain about my family. When the Jones clan gets together, you never know what will happen. It’s always loads of fun, especially when we start playing games. (You can read about that at A Year of Smiles – Day 123.) No matter what we do, though, even if we’re just napping on the couch after a wonderfully scrumptious Thanksgiving meal, our time together is always, well, interesting (Yeah. That’s a good word to describe it! 😉 ).

Sure. We have the usual family frustrations. We get on each other’s nerves and we make each other angry from time to time. What family doesn’t? But I would’t trade these folks for anything! Family is a precious gift, one that brings so much joy and so many priceless SMILES!

A Year of Smiles – Day 322: Thanksgiving Countdown

Reason to SMILE and BE THANKFUL #322: PUMPKIN PIE

The only food God intended to be made from pumpkins!

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Just knowing it will be cooling on my mom’s kitchen counter when I arrive at her house on Thanksgiving Day is enough to bring a SMILE to my face.

Mmm. Mmm. Good!

A Year of Smiles – Day 321: Thanksgiving Countdown

Reason to SMILE and BE THANKFUL #321: THE MENU

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In my family, traditions are sacred. Maybe that’s just part of being a family. We all have our own ways of celebrating the holidays and as we get older and have families of our own, we like to continue those traditions that we hold near and dear. And God forbid we stray from those traditions! You think I’m kidding?

One year, a chunk of my family decided to go to the mountains for Thanksgiving. Those of us who couldn’t afford the trip were left to celebrate on our own. I’ve never felt so abandoned in all of my life! 😉 What in the world was I supposed to do without my family on Thanksgiving! My crew ended up at Cracker Barrel eating with a restaurant full of strangers at a table not nearly big enough to hold our food and no one to share our family stories with. It was sad. I was sad. It was not a Happy Thanksgiving. I do have to admit the food was pretty good (Nothing like mom’s, though!) but I absolutely hated not being able to celebrate Thanksgiving the way it was supposed to be celebrated!

Okay. Maybe I should rephrase my earlier statement. I forbid we stray from traditions. I really like them! 🙂

When it comes to the Thanksgiving menu, it’s no different. The traditional American Thanksgiving meal will do just fine. Turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce (I could actually do without the cranberry sauce!), rolls and pecan and pumpkin pies complete the Thanksgiving spread. There are usually a few other dishes depending on what mood some of us are in but for the most part, the meal is quite typical – as it should be. 😉

And every year, the responsibility to prepare each dish is doled out to different family members. Mom takes the big stuff and the rest of us take the side dishes. For the longest time, I was responsible for the rolls and the drinks – nothing that had to be cooked. (If you’ve read any of my posts on cooking, you’d completely understand the wisdom of this choice.) In recent years, however, I’ve been upgraded to the green bean casserole. The added responsibility had nothing to do with improvement in my cooking skills. It was only given to me because my sister, who usually prepared that dish, moved away. (My family has such faith in me! 😉 ) After ten years, I can proudly say that I am now a master at preparing green bean casserole. I can almost make it without looking at the recipe! Hahahaha!

Well, I don’t know about you but our Thanksgiving menu always makes me SMILE. I look forward to the sights, the smells, the tastes and the feeling of misery after stuffing my face with way too much food. Oh, hurry up, Thanksgiving! I can hardly wait!

 

 

A Year of Smiles – Day 320: The Thanksgiving Countdown Begins

Reason to SMILE and BE THANKFUL #320: MOM’S COOKING

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There’s nothing better! Give me a choice between the best dish from the best restaurant anywhere in the world and my mom’s fried pork chops, rice, black-eyed peas and gravy and you better believe I’m choosing my momma’s cookin’! I don’t know how she does it. Any meal she prepares is the best meal in the world as far as I’m concerned. You can’t beat her roast beef, carrots and potatoes, her lemon-pepper chicken or her meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Heck! Even her rice and canned soup is amazing!

Of course, when Thanksgiving rolls around, my taste buds begin their annual protest. No food can satisfy. Nothing tastes good because all they want is Thanksgiving Dinner at mom’s. Now, my mom doesn’t do all the cooking. There’s too many of us to feed and that’s too much to ask. (Although, is it really? Hahahaha! I’m just kidding, Mom! 🙂 ) But I always know who has prepared what and my mom’s dishes are what fills my belly first! (Yes, when it comes to food, I do discriminate!)

You know, I have tried to cook as well as my mom but I never really paid much attention in the kitchen when I was a child. I’ve made her meatloaf, her lemon-pepper chicken and just last night, I made her chili. Guess what. Nothing I prepare tastes anything like the dishes prepared by my mom! Nothing!

That’s the key, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter what the meal is. If it’s prepared by mom, it’s the best food you’ve ever tasted and it always brings a SMILE. Well…

… unless you’re my kids.

It’s a good thing they have their Mamaw!

THANKSGIVING COUNTDOWN

Adobe SparkThanksgiving is only 2 days away. I can’t wait for that delicious turkey and dressing! My mouth is watering just thinking about it! (Unh – I need to go find some food! 😉 )

I really do love this holiday so I thought I’d take a cue from my friend over at Brandi’s World and begin a countdown to Thanksgiving. Oh, but I only have three days (including today). That’s not much of a countdown, is it?

Wait!

I’m five days behind on my SMILES. That means I have eight SMILES available to include in a Thanksgiving countdown. I can cram eight SMILES in three days.

Really, I can!

So get ready for a Thanksgiving Countdown – A Couple of Stars and a Happy Face style.

A Year of Smiles – Day 305

Reason to SMILE #305: FAVORITE THINGS

Alright, musical fans of the world, I bet I know what song is going through all of your heads right now. The exact same one that’s going through mine:

“Rain drops on roses
And whiskers on kittens…”¹

Yes, indeed-y. I can’t help but sing that song when I see those two words. And I’ll probably be singing it all day now. Maybe even all week. It could be worse, though…

No. No. Let’s not think of what could be worse! 😉

Rodgers and Hammerstein must have had a blast composing that song! What fun it must have been to imagine all the simple pleasures of life that could make a person forget their troubles, the everyday sights, smells and sounds with the power to chase away the sadness, fear or pain and bring a SMILE to anyone’s face IF one simply remembers them.

Hmmm… Kinda sounds like counting your blessings, doesn’t it?

Well, Rodgers and Hammerstein shouldn’t be able to have all the fun. So, here are a few of my favorite things:

  1. Mary Poppins coffee mug
  2. Relaxing in the evenings, watching TV or enjoying the silence with my hubby
  3. Having conversations with my boys
  4. My tablet which I use to write my blog
  5. Sitting by a fire in my living room
  6. Listening to the crickets sing
  7. Watching lightning bugs
  8. My fuzzy bathrobe
  9. Hearing my husband laugh
  10. Hearing my boys say “I love you”

Wait. Were you expecting a big musical score? 😉

My list may not be worthy of musical theater but each of my favorite things brings me a huge SMILE! Now, it’s your turn to make your own list of SMILES!

¹”My Favorite Things” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, II

A Year of Smiles – Day 255

Reason to SMILE #255: ELECTRICITY, WATER AND THE LUXURIES OF HOME

I have come to the conclusion that I would never be able to live off the land.

I would die.

Very quickly.

I only had to live without electricity and running water for twenty-five hours because of Hurricane Irma but my time “off the grid” ( 😉 ) taught me a lot about myself. Mostly, I learned how many things I take for granted. For instance, I don’t think twice when I walk into a room and flip on the light. I begrudgingly turn on the kitchen faucet in order to wash the dishes. Taking a shower is just part of my daily routine. And indoor plumbing – well, I actually do thank God for that quite often.

Basically, those twenty-five hours have shown me how blessed I truly am. I live a life of luxury compared to so many others but I take so much of it for granted. The moment my power was restored, I actually shouted,” Woohoo!” and came very close to doing a happy dance. I was overjoyed. Imagine if I showed some of that same joy when I adjusted the thermostat to make the house a little more comfortable or when I loaded the dishwasher after a having a delicious meal with my family or when I flipped the switch and the lights came on… Do you think my gratefulness would cause God to SMILE?

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Yeah. I’m pretty sure it would.