Somewhere between the Turkey and Sweet Potatoes, it struck me like a down pillow in a late-night pillow fight, "It just doesn't get any better than this!".
Envision what I was looking at...A stellar Southern California day coming to Michelangelo masterpiece sunset conclusion. A lazy ocean, like a mirror, reflecting God's artistry right on to our patio. A table decorated by Martha Stewart's twin, with autumn floral arrangements crowning the stunning Indonesian batik fabric. Candles flickering and bouncing light off the exquisite "Country Rose" china and creating diamonds of light in the Moonsplash Crystal goblets.
Ladening the table is turkey prepared with the love of my Father-in-law, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, Uncle Kenneth's amazing cranberry relish, three new heaven sent vegetable creations by Deb, Aunt Ella's delight, butternut squash soup, rolls, five tasty desserts, and sparkling apple cider bubbling with joy.
But far and away the most enriching aspect are the people. The lovely folks who scoop the delicacies into their grinning mouths. Bill - wild Bill, his first Thanksgiving in his 80s, a father-in-law who loves me. Aunt Ella, a dear old lady eating her second Thanksgiving since Tony, her husband of 52 years, has gone. Marvelous, that is actually a proper name of one little 3 year old who is experiencing her first American thanksgiving far from her Nigerian homeland. Her dad John with his mile wide smile illuminating his dark face. Sitting beside him is his wife, Joy, in her traditional Nigerian dress and then the childlike sparkle emanating from Miracle and Victory, Marvelous' 6 and 4 year old sisters.
Rudy, the fire chief of great distinction, yet wearing his continual humble quiet smile. My sister-in-law, Donna, the ageless wife of Rudy, with her dazzling green necklace shimmering next to her perfectly matched blouse.
Molly and Stephen, the seminarians, recently returned from the remote villages of Africa, where their youthful strength is being spent to lovingly serve those forgotten by the world but remembered by God. Their friendship with my daughter is a treasure to her and thus to me. Molly's three cousins provide the giggling teen element to the table.
Then there are a Dad's pride and joy... My birth daughter, Lindsey, doing what she does better than anyone I know - lighting up a room with her infectious joy. This Thanksgiving she is beaming brighter than usual with her ruggedly handsome, almost fiancee beside her. TJ is like a son, and probably will be a son-in-law soon. His solid character and deep love for God and Lindsey will be a welcome addition at many Thanksgiving's to come. The lovely olive complexion of Anjelica graces our table for the third time but it is the first time she sets there as "my daughter". How honored I feel as I watch her dark eyes dance with moments of joy as her gorgeously thick black hair falls down her back. I am sad for her first Thanksgiving without biological family but thrilled that God has given us the joy of her presence.
The Master of the Feast, the magical architect who is able to creatively build an ambiance that is beyond comprehension sits there effervescently holding all things together. Stunningly beautiful in her dark black dress, covered with a spectacular apron that declares the reality - "Queen of Everything". Her thick blonde hair, perfectly styled, bounces on her shoulders as she efficiently orchestrates the evening like a symphony conductor coaxing other worldly music from the various elements. The fact that she is in love with me makes the awe of the moment beyond believable.
I stop and listen to the laughter, the voices of love. I feast my eyes on the scene, drinking it in and wanting to freeze the moment forever on the front page of my mind. And as I listen, I hear the Spirit say, "Son, this is only a sliver of what I have prepared for you. Wait until you sit at the ultimate Thanksgiving feast in the kingdom of heaven. It will thrill and fill your heart in ways you can't even imagine now." I lift my eyes to the bright moon and the first star that is now shimmering in the sky above. I let out a silent but loud, "A Billion Thank Yous to You Great God of LOVE!"