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Thanksgiving Leaves

December 4, 2022

Another Way for November 25, 2022

Thanksgiving Leaves

This year for the first time in about 16 years, I raked a couple of baskets of leaves in our front yard a week or so before Thanksgiving.

Why the lapse of time? After moving to a new home about 15 years ago and planting several trees in our front yard, we finally have trees big enough to make a couple baskets of leaves. Somehow the strong winds from the southwest corner of our property that normally blow the leaves northeasterly (out to the hay field) didn’t hit at the right time. Or whatever.

I didn’t mind raking them, and if you read my recent column, you know my husband is not exactly in any condition to rake leaves at the moment. In earlier years he would mow any leaves we did have and shoot them out toward the hayfield as well.


I’m not a big fan of battery or gas tools for my outside work, and the raking exercise quickly transports me back to the days when we raked a high pile (at our first home) and then called the kiddos to come jump in them. Is there anything more delightful as a child unless it is making snow angels or snowmen?

Daughters Michelle and Tanya

More on a different kind of “leaving.” As we age, we are saddened with the memories this particular fall holiday brings: the year that my sister-in-law’s father died while hunting which of course wrecked the holiday for them and all of us. I remember arriving at her house anticipating her normal sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner and someone hurried out to tell us the sad news, to warn us of the Barbara’s huge loss. We were all still young and stricken with the reality and pain she was experiencing in the loss of her father on one of the best holiday weekends of the year.D

Many years later, our son-in-law also lost his father to cancer the week of Thanksgiving. I am saddened with two church members’ deaths last week (on the same night) and of course sickened by the recent shooting of three football players in the nearby city of Charlottesville, Va.

We also take nervous glances at the house across the road where our beloved neighbor man is likely closer to heaven with each day. His wife too. But what can we do? Their daughter-in-law tells me stories of her own memories of too many loved ones dying on or near Thanksgiving. I ask if there is anything we can do for her in-laws. Her father-in-law has been like a second Dad for my husband these last 15 years. “Just pray,” she says. Yes, we can do that and we know there is power in prayer to somehow lift people above their grief and exhaustion as they seek to provide home care for these folks in their mid-nineties.


This was to be my Thanksgiving column and I am sure we’re not the only ones in the same boat, feeling loss and anxiety and pain. Yet we also find deep gratitude within our spirits: a freezer and canning shelves stocked with food—some from our garden and nearby orchards. A warm home with plenty of stacked wood because of my husband’s vigorous wood cutting. Children and grandchildren and siblings and cousins we’ve been able to visit and cherish. Deep faith in the God who carries us all through the difficult times of stress, loss, and tears. We know that God has provided a heavenly home around a huge Thanksgiving table stretching across eternity.

May we focus on good thoughts with love and care over the Thanksgiving weekend.


How did your Thanksgiving festivities go, or not? What did you learn or regret or ponder?


Reminder: Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.   

Comments or reflections? Share here or send to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career: 43 Years Inside Mennonite Media.

  1. I can smell the scent of dry maples leaves at my childhood home in Pennsylvania, a pleasant memory. Yes, we rakes by hand, no power tools.

    In the summer of 2016 we moved away from a home with a huge corner lot that had 18 oak trees. You have to understand that live oak trees in Florida shed literally millions of tiny leaves, dry and not at all fragrant. They fall slowly and over a period of 4-5 months. One of the motivations for our move was our all the yard work, including our inability to rake all the leaves: Over 100 bins at last count. Besides, we needed a single-story house layout, not a tri-level at our age.

    Like you, we have encountered many losses along the way. They used to be family members of the previous generation. Now some of my friends, all younger than I, are dying. It makes me sad, but both they and I have the hope of heaven. I count my blessings every single day. This morning with breakfast on the lanai, I looked at the birds flying above the lake and remembered God’s promise to take care of us, even when we are suffering and feel bereft.

    • Thanks for this beautiful reflection, Marian. (I had to look up exactly what a lanai is. 🙂 ) I did not take time to look out to our mountains or the morning stars as I usually do but yes, we need to thank God for each new and blessed day.

      I had no idea that live oaks were so prolific with their leaves (and branches) but I do remember seeing lots of live oaks when we lived in northern Florida. And often the leaves were left to their own devices … not raked. You were smart to move away from those trees and that huge chore! And to a single story house. 🙂

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