For the past four years, on or around Thanksgiving we have journeyed to Chester, IL, to spend Thanksgiving on a farm. For three of those years I hoped to return and prepare a reflection blog post about how much I enjoy the farm, the special friendships we have made with people on the farm, and the sense of warmth, acceptance, and belonging we feel when there.
That post has never happened. Last year, I did not even mention our farm trip on my blog, though I reflected about a new time sucker to my life.
This post has never happened in large part because it's difficult to sum up how much we have enjoyed our time at Knapp Centennial Farm. We look forward to this time out in the country, to watching Nash run around and be a farm dog, and to seeing good friends.
The farm belongs to the Knapp family, and we know a Knapp (now Smith) because Laura is married to Pat, the pastor Lindon worked for in Alabama. Pat and Laura have been really special friends for six years, and they have been tremendous encouragements to us during all kinds of difficult situations.
So when they insisted we join them for their annual Thanksgiving celebration with Laura's extended family at the farm (which, conveniently, is less than 90 minutes from our house), we thought it would be fun. It is fun, and every year Laura's gregarious family has welcomed us back with increasing levels of enthusiasm.
This year, while there was no lack of enthusiasm, there was a serious lack of nice weather. It rained all day Thursday, and eventually the rain turned to ice and snow. While we had hoped Levi would get to try out his new walking skills all around the farm, we were stuck indoors all day. Poor Nash had it the worst. We won't go into that. He was very displeased with us.
Though the weather did not cooperate, we so enjoyed our time with the Knapps (and when I say "Knapp," I mean everyone who was there, whether or not they ever held that last name). It's always fun to hear people "ooh" and "ahh" over your kid, and the Knapps are nothing if not enthusiastic. It made us feel very good!
And it is always a joy to see Pat and Laura. Laura definitely possesses the Knapp expressiveness, so if you ever have good news you want to share with someone, tell Laura. The result is so gratifying. But don't think she won't tell you the truth straight up when you need to hear it. One of my favorite moments from Thanksgiving was when she came upon a few clueless novices trying to hack through a game of Scrabble and pronounced, "You've really screwed up this board. This is NOT how it should look at all." She gave them a few pointers, shook her head solemnly, and went on her way.
And Pat can ask, "How are you doing?" in a way that will bring you to tears, and then he will listen graciously as you pour out your heart to him while he ensures all the leftover turkey meat gets off the carcass and into storage. Then he will offer a bit of encouragement that helps to put things in perspective and remind you of the truths you were about to forget. Not that this happened, mind you...
So despite the wintry mix, we had a nice Thanksgiving. And I got a hat out of the deal. Laura put her fabulous knitting skills to work before Thanksgiving to make a slew of hats for those who would be at the farm. She gave me the very last one. The hats seemed to be a big hit because everywhere you looked, someone's head was topped with a brightly-colored yarn.
It's a blessing to have friends who will rejoice with you, listen with you, speak the truth to you in love, tell you how beautiful your child is, and keep your head warm. For those kinds of friends, I am incredibly thankful.