In Everything, Give Thanks

by | Nov 1, 2012 | Every Day Life

The very sound of the word “Autumn” brings to me a sigh of contentment. My hornofplentyisfilledtooverflowingwith blessings and family memories.
A Martha Stewart special on television once encouraged me to make holiday decorations out of fruits and vegetables. Martha suggested I do this with my children.
Including my three boys in a craft project that involves fruits, vegetables and knives would most definitely create family memories. It might also land me on the Dr. Phil Show. The topic would be, “Women Who Have Lost Their Minds!”
Over the years I have attempted several projects, at the encouragement of experts, to make my home more joyful and inviting during the holiday season. I quickly learned that if I tried to get my family to participate, it would lead to lots of screaming and everyone wanting to run away from home.

Okay, I was the one screaming and wanting to run away. It’s simply not fair that I live in a house full of men who refuse to even pretend to enjoy doing “girly” projects.
In the autumn of 1985, I was a newlywed living on Long Island, N.Y. It was the first time I had ever seen people decorating their homes for Thanksgiving.
I still hadn’t figured out how to properly hang the Priscilla curtains in our living room but I knew I had to have bales of hay, corn stalks, mums and pumpkins all around my front door.
It was beautiful and I was hooked.
The next year my autumn decorating was grand. Our first son, Adrin, had been born in September. We had just moved into an older home three blocks away from Long Island Sound. It would be Adrin’s first Thanksgiving and I wanted everything to look beautiful.

At least nine pumpkins adorned our front porch. I learned the Number One Rule
in decorating with pumpkins that year – never leave them out over night! If you do, you will find them smashed all over the street the next day.
Don’t be fooled into a false sense of security if they survive one or two nights without destruction. If you leave them out, they will be destroyed. Trust me!
Our fourth autumn as a family was a time of great excitement. We were expecting our second child to arrive sometime around Thanksgiving Day. I made sure to get the decorating finished early. Martha Stewart would have been proud. The front of my house looked like a cover on a magazine.

On Nov. 11, 1988, my perfect world crumbled. Our son, Austin Wheeler Bentley, was stillborn. He was beautiful. I had no idea that one could feel such indescribable grief and indescribable love at the same time.
One would think that those seasonal decorations would have been meaningless in the light of such grief, but it was just the opposite.
A few weeks later, on Thanksgiving Day, our precious two-year-old son Adrin sat in the middle of those pumpkins holding a small stuffed bear. It had accompanied a flower arrangement for Austin’s funeral.
Twenty-four years later those pictures are still like medicine for my soul. They bring back memories and even thanksgiving for a son that I was supposed to somehow say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to, all at the same time.

We learned the truth of “sorrow is for a season and joy comes in the morning.” By the next Thanksgiving, I was holding our two-month old son Dillon. We were also preparing to leave Long Island and move to Arkansas.
Remember that Number One Rule I mentioned concerning pumpkins? I used to believe it only applied if you lived up north with ‘them Yankees.’ Well, I was wrong. It applies in Arkansas, too.
I naively thought that since I was in the Good Old South, my pumpkins would be safe on our front porch overnight. Not true.
I was awakened one night during our first Arkansas autumn to the sound of a rumbling engine. I saw three young people sneaking across our yard and I just knew they were out for my pumpkins.
I yelled for my husband to stop them and the next thing I knew, Donald was running out the front door. He chased the would-be thieves across our yard and out into the street.
It was a spectacle to behold and to this day it is one of my favorite Thanksgiving memories. Not because he responded so quickly and heroically but because he ran out the door wearing only his “whitey tighties.”
This leads to Rule Number Two: Do not chase pumpkin stealers in your underwear! “In everything gives thanks.” Happy Thanksgiving!

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