Thanks. No strings attached. - JJ Landis
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Thanks. No strings attached.

It’s Thanksgiving morning. Phineas and Ferb entertain my offspring as they snack on cereal and bananas. My husband is on some sort of work phone call (computer techs never get a day off). My Norwegian teenager smartly sleeps in.


I sip (gulp) a cup of black coffee in the mug I look forward to using every time we visit this house in Florida. The words “Wakey Wakey Eggs and Bakey” bring a smile. Just beyond the window I face is a pool. Florida is punishing me for calling it unromantic in last week’s post – it has been too cold to swim since we arrived four days ago.


According to my number one news source Facebook (where all my imaginary friends live, according to my husband), there have been insane amounts of grocery shopping and cooking going on this week.


Guess what. I have NEVER cooked a Thanksgiving meal. Guess what. I don’t even think I’ve EVER even eaten a proper Thanksgiving meal. Homecooked turkey, cranberries, sweet potatoes, pie. On the actual holiday.


Part of me is feeling guilty for not presenting the ideal American experience to my kids (especially this year with our exchange student). But part of me just doesn’t care. My kids know we are thankful. When one of them thanked me yesterday for buying her a mango, the “whew, my kids will probably end up okay because they acknowledge the small treasuresof life” wave of mommy pride washed over me.


Tomorrow we will eat our restaurant-made carryout turkey dinner on paper plates with my mom, dad, sister, and brother-in-law. But today, we will load the four kids in our ridiculously huge 15-passenger rental van and drive to a few nearby universities. Our Norwegian hasn’t seen an American college campus yet! School won’t be in session but we will stroll the grounds anyway.


Maybe next year, I will muster up the energy to do a “real” Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe not.


I got this far in my post with no idea what my point was. I was kind of struggling.


But now I’ve got it. I have pinpointed what’s sloshing around in my spirit.


Because I didn’t grow up with lots of the standard traditions, I don’t feel tied to them. This could be sad. Could feel hollow.


In reality, I’m free.


Free to examine truth. There is no way I’m going to put on a happy face and live out an inauthentic life. I don’t want to do something just because “it’s the thing to do.” Blech.


As Mennonites, it’s our tradition to wash each other’s feet after we partake in communion twice a year. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, becoming their servant, though he was their Savior.


Footwashing at church bothered me greatly (and I do still have some issues with it) when I attended my previous church (pre-marriage) because I knew I was a total hypocrite! (I suspected the same of others and this was even before my pastor ended up in prison.) I didn’t want to ceremoniously sprinkle water over panty-hose clad toes symbolizing servanthood if I wasn’t willing to mow that person’s yard, bake her a lasagna, babysit her children, refrain from judging her, hug her, love her as Christ.


I am not against the quintessential American Thanksgiving experience! Eat your turkey and stuffing. Pour on the gravy! But step back and take a look. Make sure you’re living an honest life.


What I want for my family is a genuine, deliberate life. No pretense. No drama. No façade. Just real. Real Thanksgiving.

  • Brenda Lazzaro Yoder,
    Posted at 08:32h, 29 November Reply

    I love the line, just be honest. Like you, JJ, I’ve struggled with the unwritten rules of what is perfect, good, normal, expected. Etc. The more I work with people, the more I’m convinced people hunger for authenticity but don’t know where to find it. Keep on living and sharing because people catch the authenticity you have to offer. Happy holiday.

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