“I’m thankful for the sun that shone Last summer when I was at home.
I’m thankful for that snow that blew Because it meant we canceled school.
I’m thankful for my doggie Max Who ate my grade card as a snack.
“Thank you, David,” Miss Jones interrupted. “That’s a very nice rough draft. We’ll work on your poem a little more and share it again later.”
“I liked it the way it was,” Amy whispered, and we giggled quietly as David triumphantly took his seat with the other second graders.
“How about you upper graders?” Miss Jones continued. “Who’s ready to practice saying the verses they memorized?”
We older kids suddenly became very interested in the posters on the walls, as if by avoiding eye contact with our teacher we could get out of reciting all together.
“Our Thanksgiving program is in a few days,” Miss Jones reminded us. “You’re going to have to share your verses eventually, so you might as well get it over with.”
Half my classmates turned their attention to the carpet. The other half looked at the ceiling.
“Oh, I’ll do it,” I said finally, sliding away from my desk. “You bunch of spineless jellyfish,” I added as I walked past my friends to the front of the room.
“My verse is from Philippians 4, verse 5.” I cleared my throat. “‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’”
“That’s an interesting choice,” said Miss Jones. “Not one that readily comes to mind when most people think about verses on thankfulness. Can you tell us why you picked it?”
“We have to tell why we picked it?” Andy yelped from the back of the room. “That wasn’t part of the assignment!”
“Calm down,” said Miss Jones. “It was just a question.” She turned back to me. “Well?”
I rubbed the back of my neck nervously, suddenly very self-conscious. I actually did have a reason for choosing this verse, I just wasn’t sure I wanted to share.
“Um…well…” I began. “I guess I picked it because…because I’ve had a lot of things making me anxious over the last few months. Things changing when I wished they would just stay the same…. Family relationships and friendships and stuff and, well, you know…. I just like the idea that we can go to God with anything. I like that God never changes, but He helps us through our changes, like a steady rock we can stand on. And….” I was painfully aware that every eyeball in the room was pointed in my direction. “And I just have a lot to be thankful for!” I finished in a hurry and sat back down.
“Nice speech,” Amy whispered. I thought she might be teasing me, but there wasn’t any hint of laughter in her eyes.
The truth was I did have a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, more than my friends even realized. And right at the top of the list was the fact that my mother did not have cancer.
That had been one terrifying day, waiting to find out the results of my mother’s test. Since my dad had asked me not to tell anyone about it, I had felt completely on my own…until I turned to God in prayer.
Now that the tests had come back negative and I knew my Mom would be alright, I could see that God had used even this experience to bring me closer to Him. So as awkward as my little speech to the class had been, I meant every word I’d said.
Once my classmates had finished reciting their verses, I raised my hand. “Miss Jones, do you think we could write Thanksgiving poems, too?”
“Yeah, can we?” Amy begged. “After hearing David’s poem, I’m feeling inspired!”
Miss Jones smiled wryly. “Okay,” she agreed.
My classmates and I gathered together to brainstorm ideas. Soon lines of poetry were flying back and forth.
“I’m thankful for my brother, Dave,” Rebekah started slowly.
“Little siblings make great slaves!” Amy supplied eagerly.
“Nice one,” said Ian-or-Carlos. I still hadn’t learned to tell the twins apart.
“It doesn’t exactly rhyme, though,” said Carlos-or-Ian.
“You try it!” Amy challenged him.
“Okay.” Carlos-or-Ian thought for a moment. “I’m thankful for my TV dinner….”
“’Cause our dad’s cooking ain’t no winner!” his brother finished.
“The rhyming is better, but the grammar is abysmal,” said Rebekah.
“Oooh, fancy-pants vocabulary,” Ian-or-Carlos teased good-naturedly.
“I’ve got one!” Little Rachel chimed in. “I’m thankful my mom burned the food. Her veggie loaf is not so good.”
“How about this?” said Jaimi. “I’m thankful I can run real fast, ’cause that’s my bus that just drove past!”
Andy started a line, making it up as he went. “I’m thankful I know how to draw….”
His sister supplied the rest. “’Cause you’re no good at math, at all!”
Andy threw a wadded up ball of paper at Rachel as we all laughed.
“I have one,” I spoke up. “I’m thankful for my crazy school. The weirdoes here are pretty cool.”
“Hey!” Jaimi laughed. “I think we should be insulted!”
I just smiled and leaned back in my chair, thinking about how much had changed in our lives lately, and how many other things had stayed the same. And I thought about how change didn’t have to be a bad thing, and uncertainty didn’t have to be scary, especially with the Lord going before us in all our future adventures.
“So,” Amy asked me, “what do you think the chances are of Miss Jones actually letting us use these poems in our Thanksgiving program?”
“You never know,” I said, and smiled as I realized that for the first time in a long while, I was actually okay with not knowing what the future held. “You never know,” I repeated. “Anything can happen.”