Saturday smiles: thankful edition

“Give thanks in all circumstances,” the apostle Paul writes to encourage Christians in the early church. Even with more blessings than I can accurately count, I was finding thankfulness hard this week. Paul doesn’t say it’s easy to do, just that we should. Sometimes, you just have to start being thankful and more thankfulness follows.

We had ourselves a Bartelt thanksgiving on Thursday, which meant the kids and I spent much of Wednesday prepping food and ingredients for Thursday’s feast. I made dough using the family recipe. I baked pumpkin bars. I attempted homemade french fried onions, which was less successful than I would have hoped. Phil put the turkey in the brine bath after the kids went to bed, and I formed the dough into rolls and kukelas, a German fried dough that is a Thanksgiving breakfast tradition on my husband’s side.

Here’s what they look like cooking:

The kids had a hand in shaking them in sugar.

And, of course, in eating them.

The sugar is hard to resist. And clean off. Corban spent more time wiping the sugar off his hands than eating the kukelas.

So, I’m thankful for family traditions and the ability to complete them. I’m also learning that even when things are difficult, the effort is generally worth it. Early Wednesday, I had decided I wasn’t going to make the dough, but knowing it’s important to my husband, I did it.

Earlier in the week, a friend invited us to take an afternoon field trip to Hershey’s Chocolate World. It involved a car seat transfer and delayed nap time, but it was SO worth it to do something different for a day and have some great conversation. And look at these kids, don’t they look happy?

I’m thankful for friends. God has exceeded any expectation I’ve had for friends, here and in Illinois.

This same crew gathered for a parade on Saturday. Our kids got excited as the floats were lining up in front of our house. Then, they hauled in the candy. (Because who doesn’t need more candy a month after Halloween?)

This is the first town we’ve lived in that has a holiday parade, and even though it’s generally a cold event, I love it. There’s something magical about listening to holiday themed music while warming your hands around a cup of coffee or hot cocoa, and watching Christmas decorations light up the night. Sort of an official ushering in of the season.

In the coming weeks, we’ll transform the house into a Christmas wonderland, which always makes me happy just to have the decorations up.

And though we couldn’t be with our families on Thanksgiving, we were able to video call, which is another thing I’m thankful for: technology. And our kids upped the entertainment ante this year. Isabelle, after watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, turned every story in her mind into a musical.

Here’s a sample:

And the next day, when it was 50-plus degrees and we played outside for two hours, the kids created Pilgrims: The Musical, using the upside-down wagon as their boat, singing praise songs to God.

Here’s a sample of that:

Reasons to be thankful? Yeah, I’ve got ’em. Sometimes I just need to remind myself.



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