Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving story? I do. Some stories never grow old, but this one had to grow old before it became a favorite.
I thought of the story once again this year and considered sharing it, but since I had already shared it here—twice!—I changed my mind.
Then! Just as I set my phone down after talking to my son, to go join Todd who was watching the Macy’s Day Parade in the kitchen, I heard,
“Did they just say corn?” I asked.
🎶”We’re talkin’ corn! Just as sure as the day that you were born!”🎶
Honestly, it sounded like the TV had decided to join our conversation.
“Yeah. It’s from the Broadway show, Shucked.” he was laughing.
“That’s crazy! I was just going to…”
I couldn’t believe the synchronicity. “Not a coincidence!” my dad would say. I could have ignored that musical moment and exquisite timing. But I didn’t.
Here’s my favorite Thanksgiving story:
We had gone to Washington Island, Wisconsin to spend Thanksgiving together that year. I can still see us all sitting around the table as Dad walked across the main room of the cabin toward us with a copy of Reader’s Digest in his hand.
The fire crackled in the woodstove and beyond him was an overcast sky that blended in with the water creating one large shimmering grey blanket of beauty. (Just kidding, I don’t really remember that part.)
I do remember Dad was wearing his serious face as he approached the table. It was a look that would immediately tempt me to rebel.
As he took his seat at the table, I lowered my eyes to our plates where he had pre set five kernels of corn on each, took a quick look at everyone’s faces and bit my lip. Trying to suppress it, I coughed, but caught my younger brother, John’s, eyes which didn’t help the situation. I swallowed a rising giggle. Dad overlooked it, cleared his throat, and started to read.
Todd sat observing as I stared at my lap and tried to think of a beloved pet’s death, but it didn’t work. My shoulders began to shake.
Now John was trying hard too not to laugh. Dad read on. It was about then, I noticed Mom smile as Todd shot me a look. I couldn’t restrain myself. It, unfortunately, quite mistakenly, slipped out. A loud guffaw.
He closed the magazine, set it down on the table and placed his napkin in his lap. Silenced, I tried to backtrack and behave, begged him to read on, but the moment had passed. Tears filled my eyes. He gave the blessing and we never did hear him read the story.
One Thanksgiving morning years later, after both my parents were gone, I Googled “5 Kernels of Corn” and found that story. I read it and wept.
It’s a story about the fearlessness of our forefathers and mothers, about faith and overcoming, about the kindness shown by the Indians although kindness hadn’t been shown to them.
It’s a story about gratitude that connects us to God. Dad had wanted to share that. In the midst of all the preparations—the stuffing and turkey, his favorite creamed corn, mom’s homemade pies—he had wanted us to remember the real story behind Thanksgiving.
I was tempted to feel sad about that Thanksgiving on the Island, but instead, I thought about how happy Dad would be to know that I finally read the story. And that I cared about its meaning more than all my distractions and usual preoccupations. But if I could have one more Thanksgiving with my parents, I would begin the meal with 5 Kernels of corn on each plate.
I’ll be making corn at some point today. Probably popped. 😄 I’m thinking of you as I write this and sending Happy Thanksgiving blessings your way! I am so thankful for you. 💛🍁🙋🏻
A few more Shucks lyrics:
🎶When we get to Heaven
We won’t need to mourn
Just as long as those streets are paved with corn!
“Remembering the Corn Story” was originally posted Nov. 2016 and reposted Nov. 2017)
Photos: Eric Thompson from Unsplash, the Overflowing Fruits from my friend Carlos on WordPress, 5 Kernels poem from Google (so sorry the link was broken to the Reader’s Digest story)