I grew up in the Rocky Mountains of BC, which means that I grew up celebrating Thanksgiving the second Monday in October. Since my birthday is on the 6th of the same month, we were often combining events. That really wasn’t such a bad deal—I mean, who doesn’t want loads of food and friends at their party—except that this weekend was also just the right time for harvesting the garden. It was pretty much guaranteed that I would spend my birthday Saturday out in our 4 acre potato field bagging potatoes. I want to say that I don’t remember grumbling and complaining about all the hard work. I want to say that this was all part and parcel of growing up in the country and I knew I was blessed beyond words to have the work, food, good seasons and money from selling all those potatoes. But I don’t think I was as sweet as I want to remember. To this day, I wake up on my birthday and feel a sort of dread about the garden needing to be dug up. To. this. day.
Several years of digging up potatos, though, means it’s time for fallow. The waiting. The building up nutrients and restoring. As far as digging up the garden on my birthday weekend is concerned, I’ve been fallowed for a long, long time. That garden land belongs to someone else now. But I’ve gained something great in all these years of fallow—a deep-rooted gratefulness. I’m grateful for the hard work my parents made me participate in. And I’m grateful for the waiting they sowed into my heart. I remember working with my dad through evenings that never seemed to end. Would we ever make it in for dinner? “I’m going back from another load”, he’d say. The stillness of the country night would surround me as I waited.
There’s something about waiting that resonates with me. I’d say that waiting was taught to me. Waiting was part of life’s early lessons. My dad taught me the most about this. Waiting can offer the time you need to come up with some great, imaginative stories. Waiting can be quiet. Waiting can be slow. Waiting can be cold. Waiting can be lonely. Waiting can be full of discovery. Waiting can be peaceful. Waiting can wake up your senses—or put them to sleep. What treasures I’ve found in waiting! I’m grateful for the lessons and the time I was given to appreciate the gift.
Because we celebrated Thanksgiving so early in the fall, I never used to relate Thanksgiving with Advent. But I have always related waiting with Advent—and I’m thankful for both.