Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving in Leiden

As many long-time readers of this blog will know, striving for gratitude has been pretty important in my life. Last year, my housemates and I had a "wall of thankfulness," a wall covered with post-its noting things for which we were thankful. It was right next to our kitchen table, so as we ate together, or cooked, or just sat in the kitchen, we had a constant reminder of all we were and had been grateful for. 

This year, Owen and I took an idea my cousin Carly mentioned about a tree of thankfulness, and we adhered a paper cut-out of a tree to the large window we have in our entranceway. 

I cut and painted a whole bunch of leaves, and as we were thankful for things, we wrote them on leaves and stuck them to the tree. While we have many things we are thankful for, one day in particular marks the growth of an unusually high number of leaves of thankfulness. I will not tell the whole, long, brutal story of sending ourselves a shipment of our belongings, but please believe me when I say it was wretched, and took months and countless hours of emails, phone calls (some of which were in Dutch!), paperwork, and it ended up being much more expensive than we expected. It was basically a nightmare. But like a nightmare, it ended! And on November 21st, we got all eight undamaged boxes and four small folding chairs: our one cubic meter of household goods for which we are so so so grateful.

It still seems like a miracle.

The colored tissue paper made it feel even more like presents!

We are reunited with our books!

Hooray for organic sugar!  Especially the brown and powdered!

My Dad's painting!
And warm clothes and more books and a hammock and a turkish rug

And so many wonderful kitchen things! (And maple syrup!)

So. Happy.
Another really lovely thing which left us intensely thankful was having our Thanksgiving celebrations. The week of Thanksgiving, I had a joyful visit with my sister in Sweden, and late on Thanksgiving Day I returned to be with Owen. On Saturday, many of our new friends from our Bible study got together for a real Thanksgiving feast.

Here I am attaching the green bean casserole to Owen's bike.

And here's my bike loaded up with bike bags for the first time.

It was a feast. 

And full of good company.

We don't feel like strangers here anymore.
Because we celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday, it fell as the last day before advent, the last day of the liturgical year.  As we begin Advent, it is wonderful to look back with Thanksgiving, and look forward with hope. There's much we do not know about what is coming in the next weeks or months, but we rejoice in a God who has poured out his faithfulness and love into our uncertain lives. Our cup overflows. 

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. A potent reminder that, even in this fallen world, the bright and unbreakable and true things always arrive at the right time . . .


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