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A Memphis Thanksgiving November 27, 2008

Posted by Matt in thanksgiving.
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I am thankful for good friends.

With Diana being placed on strict bedrest at the end of last week, we were not quite sure what our Thanksgiving holiday would consist of. It was certain that traveling 130 miles to central Arkansas was definitely off the list, so it began to look more and more likely that our dinner would consist of toast, popcorn, and jellybeans (a la A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving). But, without us having to ask or even really bringing it up, some of our beloved friends came to the rescue.

Chance and Teneshia, along with their adorable daughters, are new members of our south Memphis congregation, having been there only about 2 months or so. In sharp contrast to us, they are both former college athletes at the University of Memphis (he in football and she in track) and are lifetime urban dwellers (where Diana is from the endless suburbia of the California coast and I grew up down a gravel road in small town Arkansas), but somehow our families clicked and for the past several weeks we have been nearly inseparable. We are about the same age (they are a couple of years younger than us) and our kids are the same ages (6 and 3), and we just all really enjoy each other’s company.

When it became apparent that we were not going to be traversing the state of Arkansas for our turkey day, Teneshia immediately invited us to their home, stating that there would, of course, be plenty of food for all of us. So, today we drove over to our very good friends’ Memphis home around south Third Street and enjoyed a cornucopia of home-cooked Thanksgiving staples – turkey and dressing and greens (she made collard and I brought turnip) and a table full of dessert. It was a great feast and one for which I am very thankful.

A pic of the kids playing together:
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Our friends Chance and Teneshia with one of their girls:
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And one of Diana and Teneshia:
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A Wisdom Thanksgiving November 26, 2007

Posted by Matt in beebe, family, thanksgiving.
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I hope that everyone had a wonderful, long holiday weekend. Here is a quick rundown of the events affecting our little family.

Thursday, Diana had to work, so I spent the majority of the day at home with the girls. We spent our lunch feasting on that Thanksgiving staple of hot dogs and macaroni & cheese. We spent much of our time laboring in the house on regular tasks like cleaning the kitchen and washing heaps of laundry. Strangely enough, I watched very little football due to the work I was trying to accomplish and the two little girls demanding much of my time. When D returned home that evening, we loaded the van and headed to my hometown of Beebe, Arkansas.

We arrived later that night after a quick dinner at Burger King and a 130 mile journey. The girls were excited, mom and dad were excited, we were tired, and everyone was happy to get out of the car.

We had our Thanksgiving meal on Friday evening at my parents, where we were joined by my brother Jeff and his wife Nancy. The meal was a glorious, traditional feast of turkey, dressing, and all the trimmings, followed by a veritable cornucopia of desserts – pies (chocolate, coconut, and chocolate-pecan bourbon) a pumpkin cake and other delectable, sugar-filled treats. While eating, we were sure to keep the Arkansas-LSU game on the TV and most of us could not help but be glued to the screen.

Could you believe how well our Hogs played? I have to admit that I reckoned we would be ritualistically slaughtered by the Tigers in Baton Rouge, so it was a wonderful surprise to see us defeat the top-ranked team in the nation in a 4-overtime classic. Is there any doubt that Darren McFadden is the greatest player in the nation?

On Saturday, I was able to have lunch with fellow blogger Coleman Yoakum at the local Mexican restaurant in Beebe and we had a great conversation about school and work and the issues of the day. After that, I drove over the Jeff’s and had the chance to visit with him for a while and make plans for later that night….

And those plans would come to fruition around 8:30, when I arrived back at his house. The two of us then drove to the other side of Little Rock where we met up with some other friends and went to see what may be the greatest movie of the year, No Country for Old Men.

I read Cormac McCarthy’s bleak novel about death and greed at the Texas-Mexico border a few weeks ago and enjoyed it quite a bit, but nothing really prepared me for this cinematic spectacle. I’m a huge fan of the Cohen brothers and always make a point to see every film they put out, but I have to admit that I had been a little disappointed in them over the past few years – this movie, though, changed all of that.

The desolation and lonliness of the the desert landscape really encapsulates the feeling of the whole film. The abject nihilism of the characters and their seemingly hopeless situation is not one for the faint of heart and the brutal violence that ensues is not for the weak of stomach, but it is an undeniable classic. The tension that repeatedly builds up is nearly unbearable in a way that invokes some of the best films ever made. I wholeheartedly recommend this movie, but be warned, it is definitely not for everybody.

After returning at 1:00 AM, I slept in a bit Sunday morning, skipping class but arousing myself from slumber in time to make it to worship at my parents’ church. After lunch, we loaded back into the van and headed home, journeying through the dreary November rain back to our north Mississippi home. It was a great trip and we thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with family and friends. I truly am a grateful man.

A Thanksgiving November 22, 2007

Posted by Matt in holiday, poetry, thanksgiving.
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For summer rains, and winter’s sun,
For autumn breezes crisp and sweet;
For labors doing, to be done,
And labors all complete;
For April, May, and lovely June,
For bud, and bird, and berried vine;
For joys of morning, night, and noon,
My thanks, dear Lord, are Thine!

For loving friends on every side;
For children full of joyous glee;
For all the blessed Heavens wide,
And for the sounding sea;
For mountains, valleys, forests deep;
For maple, oak, and lofty pine;
For rivers on their seaward sweep,
My thanks, dear Lord, are Thine!

For light and air, for sun and shade,
For merry laughter and for cheer;
For music and the glad parade
Of blessings through the year;
For all the fruitful earth’s increase,
For home and life, and love divine,
For hope, and faith, and perfect peace,
My thanks, dear Lord, are Thine!

~~John Kendrick Bangs 1862-1922

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving day! Our big turkey day will be tomorrow at my parents’ house in Arkansas. A hospital never sleeps, so D will be at work today – meaning that I will be at home with the girls. That means our Thanksgiving Day meal will be rather simple (hot dogs and mac & cheese anyone?), but never fear, the turkey and dressing and pies await us tomorrow!

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