If there’s ever a day to put grumbling aside, it’s Thanksgiving Day. I’d done what I could to get the food ready to be cooked later that afternoon. This included peeling potatoes, prepping the turkey, and making desserts. I always try to do as much as I can the few days before Thanksgiving because we have a special tradition on
Since moving to Little Rock in 2010, we always spend the first half of Thanksgiving Day at our church, serving the community. We go to an inner-city church where a high number of people in the surrounding area live below the poverty line, so every year our church provides a community dinner and we feed over five hundred people. My husband, kids, and I always have the same job. We create a simple carnival with games, face painting, and treats for the kids. It’s something we look forward to all year.
To make sure everything was in place in time, we had to be out the door early on Thanksgiving morning. This meant waking everyone up, getting them fed, and making sure everyone had shoes on. (More than once we’ve gotten someplace only to discover someone didn’t have any shoes!) Yet when I got up that morning, I quickly realized something was wrong. My body ached and I felt horrible. I had a fever, and all I wanted to do was climb back into bed. I attempted to get up, but my legs were shaking. Worries filled my mind. There would be no way I was going to church to serve others, let alone finish cooking all the food for Thanksgiving.
I managed to get up to tell the kids to get dressed, and when I got back to the bedroom John could tell things weren’t good.
“I’m not going to be able to go . . . I feel awful,” I said as I climbed back into bed.
“Then we’ll have to cancel the carnival.” Panic filled my husband’s face. “There’s no way I can manage watching all our kids and running all the games.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll text Pastor Harry and ask if we can get more help—”
I hadn’t finished my sentence when a loud crash sounded from the other room. John and I looked at each other.
I gasped. “What was that?”
John jumped to his feet. “It sounds like a bookshelf got knocked over . . . or something else big.” We rushed to my grandma’s bedroom and opened the door. Grandma lay on the floor. Fear gripped me, and I rushed to her.
“Grandma, what happened?”
She looked at me, bewildered. “I don’t know . . .” She was half-dressed and looked dazed. “What am I doing down here?” She reached for her head. When she pulled her hand away, I noticed there was blood. I grabbed a blanket and covered up her bare legs.
Hearing the commotion, the kids came running from all over, peering in the door of her bedroom.
“Grandma, what’s wrong?”
“Is she okay?”
I rushed to the bathroom and grabbed a towel, placing it on her head. She still couldn’t tell us what had happened or why she was on the floor. She was talking, but she didn’t make sense. This didn’t look good.
My grandma moaned, and I turned to John. “We need to call 911. She might need to be taken to the hospital. This could be serious.”
The community event at our church, Thanksgiving dinner—neither of those seemed important now. My fever and aching body didn’t either. I simply needed to make sure my grandmother was okay.
The firemen and EMTs arrived within ten minutes. They checked Grandma over, took her vitals, and helped her to her feet. She was a little wobbly, but she was able to walk back to her bed with help. The wound to her head was small, but it had bled a lot.
The EMTs cleaned the area and bandaged it up. “I think she’s all right, ma’am. Her vitals look good. Probably just tripped on something and went down. I think she’ll be okay today, but you probably want to make an appointment with her doctor within a few days to get her checked out.”
“Yes, I will. Thank you.”
Juggling It All
I helped Grandma get cleaned up and settled into bed. She was talking much more clearly now. She even asked for a Popsicle. I took this as a good sign. As she settled in, the aches from my fever came upon me again. With all the strength I had left, I got a Popsicle for my grandma and then staggered back to bed.
John got ahold of our pastor, and Pastor Harry promised helpers for the carnival and to help watch over all our kids. For the next three hours, while John and our kids were serving at church, I went back and forth between checking on my grandma and attempting to keep my fever down.
Around the same time my family arrived home from church, Kayleigh showed up with her kids. Kayleigh is our unofficial daughter. She is one of the teen moms I’d started mentoring in 2002, and she had started spending more and more time with our family outside of the teen mom support meetings. When our family moved from Montana to Arkansas in 2010, Kayleigh and her three kids did too. She’s our daughter in every sense except for taking our name.
With me still in bed, Kayleigh took over directing the preparation of Thanksgiving dinner while the kids took turns watching Grandma and helping her. Grandma seemed to be doing all right except for still being unsteady on her feet. John got out her walker and insisted that she use it. She’d had the walker for years but had been too independent to use it. Now it seemed she had no choice. This wasn’t the Thanksgiving I had planned, but as I heard my family gathering around the dining room table, thankfulness filled my heart. My grandma wasn’t hurt seriously. Kayleigh had stepped in to cook Thanksgiving dinner. This day wasn’t anything like I’d planned, but it could have been worse. Truly there was nothing to grumble about.
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Nothing to Grumble About
The mantra that filled my mind on Thanksgiving Day continued to replay in my thoughts for the weeks to come. The house is a horrible mess . . . but I have nothing to grumble about. We have a home.
Homeschooling was hard today . . . but I have nothing to grumble about. I’m thankful we have the opportunity to teach our children at home. I’m thankful they are growing and learning.
Grandma is slowing down . . . but at least the doctor says he doesn’t think there was any serious damage done.
Day by day, the more I told myself, I have nothing to grumble about, things began to change. Life didn’t get easier, but my heart began to soften. Things that used to bother me didn’t bother me as much. I’m not sure if the kids noticed, but I did. Thank you, Lord.
Life never goes as we expect. The holidays never turn out as perfect as we’d planned, yet we can either grumble about those things, or we can shift our perspective. When focussing on the good blessings of having a home and a family, we discover we truly have nothing to grumble about.
When we lift our eyes to God and remember all He’s done for us, our troubled hearts can become grateful hearts. The more we do this, the more we hard-wire our response. Just as we hard-wire grumbling, we can hard-wire praise instead. Shifting our perspective can make every day a thanksgiving day. It just depends on how you look at it.
Tricia Goyer is a wife, homeschooling mom of 10, and bestselling author of 70+ books, including her new release The Grumble Free Year. The Grumble-Free Year follows the Goyers as they strive to go complaint-free and discover what it looks like to develop hearts of gratitude. They share their plans, successes, failures, and all the lessons learned along the way, offering not only a front-row seat to the action but also real-life steps for uncovering hearts that are truly thankful. For more information, go to: www.TheGrumbleFreeYear.com