I know at least 25 people in the past few days asked me this question. “How was your Thanksgiving, Holly?”
That question is comparable to someone asking the question in passing, “How are you today?”
These are the ‘generic’ questions we ask when we are trying to be polite when we cross the path of an acquaintance. At some point in our lives we learn to give the answer to those questions that the asker really wants “Good. And you?”
We all try to avoid ‘THAT’ person who will honestly answer those questions. You know those people. The coworker or friend at church you dodge in the hallway because you know that if you smiled and asked those questions, THEY would be honest and you would be stuck listening to all the ‘not so good’ moments of their day.
Negative Nancy. Debbie Downer. We all know them.
I think that people who know me best would say that I lean more towards being a Positive Polly. So, usually when I answer “Good.” to the question, “How was your Thanksgiving?” or “How are you today?” my answer is honest. Typically even on those ‘bad’ days, I can find something good about the day.
Two of my favorite people I have been blessed to cross paths with in my life was a dear retired couple in Cape Girardeau, Missouri named Mr. Eugene and Mrs. Joyce. I will never forget the first time we met them. Joe and I were fresh out of seminary, and had moved twelve hours from family to serve on staff at a church. Mrs. Joyce and her husband Mr. Eugene walked up to us to introduce themselves and joy literally oozed out of their faces and words into us.
A couple of months later, we ran into this sweet couple at the local fair. (I mean if you want to get to know the culture of a community, where better than the fair?) Mr. Eugene in his Hawaiian shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes was walking around holding the hand of one of his grandchildren. Mrs. Joyce had her hands full of fair treats. It was evident that they were having as much fun as the kids at the fair.
We stopped and talked to them for a little while. Joe asked, “How are you guys?” (Like it wasn’t apparent that they were having the time of their lives at the fair)
Mrs. Joyce’s answer is one I will never forget. “Joe, every day is a good day. Some are just better than others. Today is a really, really good day.”
We went on our way that night and enjoyed pushing our then six month old son around in a stroller taking in all the crazy things that one sees when they go to a fair.
I don’t remember if I ate a corn dog or cotton candy that evening. I honestly don’t remember much of anything about that trip to the fair. If I remember correctly, I forgot to take my camera that night. So I am stuck with the memories that were imprinted on my mind and in my heart.
What I will never forget about that day in September are the images of Mr. Eugene and Mrs. Joyce making memories with their grandchildren and the impactful words that were spoken to us. That evening on the drive home I remember Joe and I telling ourselves that we want to live our lives with that kind of joy and be the kind of grandparent that count it ‘a really, really good day’ when we get to take our grandchildren to the fair.
We only lived in that community for two years. For a few years after we moved, Mr. Eugene and Mrs. Joyce sent us a handwritten Christmas letter from Arizona….where they spent the winter months. I loved reading about the fun things they did during the winter. It seems the letters always came on a cold winter day when I was stuck inside our tiny seminary townhouse counting down the days until I could take my two little ones outside to play. Mrs. Joyce’s letter was always a reminder of the joy that I wanted to spill out of my life into others.
One Christmas the letter did not arrive. When time and distance separate people, the correspondence seems to naturally stop at some point. I assumed that this was the case.
Early the next year I got the email. Mrs. Joyce emailed me to apologize for not sending a letter over Christmas, but while in Arizona for the winter months Mr. Eugene had suddenly passed away and she didn’t get a chance to write us.
My prayer for Mrs. Joyce over the coming months was that she would not lose her joy for living and that in the midst of utter pain and sadness, she would still be able to see a glimmer of good in each day that God gave her here on earth.
Romans 8:28 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
“How was your Thanksgiving, Holly?”
“We had to cancel our plans to go to Joe’s parents because Brooklynn was sick.”
“We didn’t eat turkey because I was holding out until Thursday morning that we would still get to leave, so I didn’t buy one to cook.”
“I cried a few tears of loneliness knowing all my siblings and their children were sitting around tables eating my mom’s turkey and dressing.”
“My heart ached deeply at times because it was the first holiday without Joe’s grandmother.”
“This time of year always seems to bring up some painful memories of the first couple of Thanksgivings Joe and I spent together as a married couple when we were estranged from his family.”
“Instead of using my money to buy gifts on Black Friday, the money had to be spent on a Doctor’s visit and prescriptions.”
“Joe and I had a really big argument.”
“I had a really bad ‘mommy’ moment with one of my kids.”
Lest you tag me a Debbie Downer and start avoiding me in the stores or the hallways at church, I will refrain from completing the ‘honest’ list of answers I could give to the question, “How was your Thanksgiving, Holly?”
So, can I really say that EVERY day is a good day?
Let’s see. Amidst all the things that seemed not so good there is another list.
“There was a place to stay and food to eat. My little family of four got to spend three days together in our cozy, warm home. Though there wasn’t turkey, my husband smoked some mean chicken for us to eat.”
“I was reminded that my family is loved. A staff member from our church texted me to let me know she was praying for me. A precious friend named Flea (who’s as fun as her name) offered to bring over an entire Thanksgiving meal spread. I have loved ones who called me and let me know they were missing me.”
“In my mind there were precious memories of Joe’s grandmother. Time and prayer have healed the wounds of holidays past and the memories fade a little more each year.”
“I had the security of knowing a doctor could help me figure our what was wrong with my sick daughter. There are many mothers around the world who have to live in fear when a fever strikes their child.”
“Even though we argue at times, my husband is committed to me ‘til death do us part.’ And…though I have bad mommy moments each day, if you ask my kids they would tell you that they think they have a really, really good momma.”
“How was your Thanksgiving Holly?”
Thanksgiving was good. It was not one of my really, really good holidays. It was probably towards the bottom of the list of best Thanksgivings in my thirty six years.
But truly every day is a good day, some are just better than others.