Posts Tagged 'thanksgiving'

My Favorite Holiday

What is YOUR favorite holiday?

My favorite holiday is this week!  Although I am not one to turn down seconds on moist turkey and dressing, tasty veggies, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, and my own delicious pumpkin pie, I will tell you that food is not the primary reason Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

My reason is a bit philosophical I suppose. To me Thanksgiving is the “purest” holiday,  the one most free of commercialization. Think about it: retailers jump from Halloween to Christmas- with very little if any space dedicated to Thanksgiving sentiment and decorations.  After all, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, being grateful, expressing gratitude. It boils down to celebrating an attitude…and acknowledging that what we have as a country and individuals, as Abraham Lincoln said in his original proclamation, are ‘gracious gifts of the most high God.”  Thanking God is not exactly politically correct or socially acceptable in all circles today.

That being said, I’d like to acknowledge three things for which I am thankful, and in doing so, I believe you will get a snapshot of who I am today.

First, I’m thankful for my faith. As a teenager, I realized that I wasn’t good enough to get to heaven on my own merit. I needed someone else’s perfect life.  I came to the point of understanding that person was Jesus Christ and that what He did for me in dying on the cross almost 2000 years ago, changed my relationship with God forever. The result has been a confidence in my future hope after death.  Now regardless of what is going on in the world, I have an ongoing personal relationship with God my Father who continues to give me good things.

A second thing I’m thankful for is my family. My husband Ed (next month we will celebrate 35 years together!) is a pastor-teacher-professor.

Ed and Mari in Saguaro NP

We have had churches in a number of cities in Florida, Illinois, and Ohio. We parented two outstanding boys, Daniel and Nathan, now ages 30 and 28. As a result of our decision to homeschool, we are very close as a family and have many wonderful memories of special adventures.  Both boys are married to wonderful Christian women, and both are fathers. Daniel, who lives here in Gilbert, has two sons, ages 3 and 1

Greyson, age 3

Sawyer, 1st BD

Erica, Nathan, Jackson (3 mo)

and Nathan, living near Seattle, has one son, 7 months old.

We are thankful that with our move to San Tan Valley about a month ago, we are on the same time zone- at least some of the year.

In addition to being thankful for my faith and my family, I am thankful for the many freedoms that we have because we live in the United States. I’m thinking especially of the freedom to pursue our dreams in our own way.  Let me explain how that looks in my life.

When we made a decision in 1998 for Ed to return to seminary, I began to consider a home business opportunity. I didn’t want to go back into the classroom; I didn’t want to work for a small hourly wage for someone else and be told when I could take a break, when I could take vacation, etc. I dreamed of an opportunity that would provide an income that I could truly work from home.

I found it in an unexpected way. I was introduced to a children’s nutritional product that my boys actually liked- a gummi-bear that was actually 12 fruits and vegetables.

I figured I could talk to other moms who would be just as thrilled as I was to find something that could pass through our kids’ mouths and count for fruits and vegetables! My business was a good extension of my previous career as a health and physical education teacher and coach. I have appreciated the continuing education training that I have gotten in nutrition. I am certified as a weight management advisor. Today I am working with a team of social entrepreneurs to provide a solution to global malnutrition of children.  Our goal is to link 5 million consumers to 5 million kids who need nutrition, not just food.  I think you can see that the dreams that I am dreaming today are much bigger than 14 years ago!

Countries served by GFR

Thanksgiving 2008 was the last time that we were all together as a family.  Nathan was in the States on a 2-week leave from a tour of duty in Afghanistan with the 101st.  We all met in PA. Daniel and Erin told us that we were going to be grandparents (and now we have 3 grandsons!!). We enjoyed a crazy Black Friday walking in NYC (that should tell you something about our family!!).

This year we will be with Daniel and family in Gilbert for dinner and then host them for my delicious pumpkin pie at our house.  At some point in the afternoon, we will connect with the Seattle DeZago’s via FaceTime.  What a special day!

In sharing my favorite holiday, I hope that I have given you some food for thought so that you can enjoy Thanksgiving this year with more gratitude than ever before.


(I shared these thoughts with my new Toastmasters Club in San Tan Valley last night.  I know this is longer than my regular posts.  Thanks for reading today!)


Below are 5 suggested action steps.  Pick one…but be careful!  It could change your life!

If you have an interest in the nutrition that we are providing for children around the world, watch this video.

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Holiday Family Time

Do you play games as a family…I mean board games? Have you ever captured the event on video? Keep reading!

Ed and I headed over to LaGrange, IL on Wednesday for Thanksgiving with my family.

We spent a nice afternoon with my mom, showed her  videos of Greyson (her first great- grandson) that were posted on Youtube, including one of the most recent ones of Greyson reading to Sawyer (3 weeks old!). The ending is priceless!

The challenge was that we had three sets of rules: my mom plays dominoes regularly with her friends and of course, they follow the rules-with a few ‘in-house’ variations; Jaimie, my niece, was reading the official rules; and the third set came from Jaimie’s experience. Sound familiar? Do you ever play family games with a variety of rules?

During play, I pulled out my iphone and captured some unique footage. This first clip shows one of our interactions about the rules. The second clip features the family realizing the challenge of changing the rules.  The third clip   recorded everyone processing the implications of my mom and Jaimie rolling their second Yahtzee (lots of points and pretty impossible to beat!)

Family time around board games must be unique in every family.  I would love to hear about your family experiences, either memories as a child, or currently as an adult.

4500 calories on Thanksgiving Day?

OK, I know it’s almost Thanksgiving Day. How can I possibly post an article with a headline like that?

I’ll tell you in a minute.

Thanksgiving just happens to be my absolute favorite holiday. I’ve even figured out why- and a couple of years ago I shared my thoughts with my Toastmaster’s Club.  I commented that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, being grateful, expressing gratitude. It boils down to celebrating an attitude: pretty tricky to commercialize an attitude!

To my way of thinking, gratitude is an expression of saying ‘thank you’ to someone for something.  To me, the Someone I say ‘Thank You’ to is God, my Heavenly Father…and what I express gratitude for are the many good things He has given me throughout my life.

Besides the meaning of Thanksgiving, it has always been a time of year that has fostered a gathering of family.  When I was growing up, the family got together at Nana’s house- and we thoroughly enjoyed a traditional dinner of turkey, dressing, stuffing, sweet potatoes with butter and marshmallows, mashed potatoes, corn, waldorf salad…and then a pie or two for dessert.  I loved it all- and thoroughly enjoyed all of the food- and ate as much as I wanted to.  After dessert, the family rule kicked in: If you didn’t help in the kitchen before dinner, then you were involved in the clean-up.  I think I got sucked into working both ends of the deal more than once!

The headliner, 4500 calories on Thanksgiving Day, is the second piece of information in a blog that was just posted today titled Healthy Balancing Act. Here’s the opening sentence: “Believe it or not, the average person may consume enough fat at a holiday meal to equal three sticks of butter.”

Whoa! That is disgusting! Calories are one thing, for sure, and you know that includes more than a normal amount of fat…but three sticks of butter: Nobody can put that picture comfortably out of their mind. Go ahead and try!

Fortunately, Nina Fuller who wrote and posted the article, included not only the caloric intake of the food that I listed above.  She also included ‘better options,’ and, if you are ready for it, a third listing of ‘a much healthier plate!

Nina makes a great point in that you don’t have to be deprived of the foods you love. But it would be in your best interest to have an idea of the size of the portions that you are eating.

These next six weeks are not the time to try to lose weight and inches.  Maintenance is a great goal! In fact I commend my brother Dan and niece Jaimie for taking the time to do a ‘cleanse’ last month in preparation for the holidays.  I’m confident that neither one is going to ‘pig out’ with poor food choices- not after taking the time to do a 10-day fast. Way to go Dan and Jaimie!

Here’s another observation:  our family food choices have changed over the last few years, and we are all much more conscious of offering good choices. My sister Debbie and sister-in-law Terry are always trying new healthy recipes.  Extra good news: the recipes taste great (at least they always do by the time I show up!)

This year Ed and I are heading over to Chicago for Thanksgiving where we will enjoy some family time, gratitude time…and healthy food.  No 4500 calorie meals for us!

Remember, you always have a choice.

What choices are already in place for you to enjoy a healthier Thanksgiving? Share something with us in the comments below.