Courier readers share Thanksgiving anecdotes

From sumptuous meals of turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce to spirited backyard touch-football games, thousands of South Carolinians will gather Nov. 27 for their annual Thanksgiving Day family festivities. Three of our readers recently told us their Thanksgiving stories.

Cooking for Others

John and Christy Meadows moved to Charleston, S.C., from Mississippi in 2010. For their first Thanksgiving, they drove back to Mississippi to be with family. In the years since, they have chosen to stay home in South Carolina during Thanksgiving and cook for others whose families are not nearby.

“We decided to do this the first year with a young couple from Uzbekistan we were witnessing to and loving like Jesus,” said the couple, who are members of Northwood Baptist Church. “Sharing the truth of the gospel with our guests and being able to give thanks to the Father together has been the highlight of our Thanksgiving season for the last three years.

“It’s a great blessing. God has allowed us to develop relationships and disciple others and make some great friends through this.”

Game Day Thanksgiving

“Early in our marriage, trying to juggle two Thanksgiving extended-family meals in one day was always interesting,” says Janet Altman of Columbia.

Because most of her family members are college football fans, they began getting together the Saturday after Thanksgiving to watch the state rivalry games, and that became their Thanksgiving gathering time. The tradition has come to include not turkey and dressing but lasagna and desserts for about 20 family members.

“My children are blessed to be in families where their cousins, aunts and uncles are believers and share the same faith,” said Altman. “We love getting together to celebrate baptisms, visiting each other’s churches, and, recently, watching cousins and siblings play together in college bands and a church praise band.

“Time with family is a priceless gift that God provides us every day and every year,” said Altman, “even on a Saturday cheering on our favorite college team.”

Everything To Be Grateful For

When Engrum Johnson, 70, offers up a prayer this Thanksgiving, he won’t ask the Lord for anything. He figures God has already given him all there is to give — his salvation, his family, his church. Everything else, including a few more months (or years) of living, is gravy.

Earlier this year, on Easter Sunday morning, Johnson woke up feeling bad. Despite his wife’s objections, he insisted on going to Rockvale Baptist Church in Piedmont, where he was serving as pastor. It was Easter, after all, and he had to preach, and that was that. After the sermon, he fell extremely ill. The next day, he was in the hospital suffering from multiple heart problems.

The prognosis wasn’t good. Johnson had a lifelong relationship with heart disease. He underwent bypass surgery at age 30 and again at 46. His heart was severely weakened. After a few days of evaluation, his doctor told him he would probably never leave the hospital.

Later, when he left the hospital, he was told he would probably never get out of the wheelchair.

Later, when he parked the wheelchair, he was told he would always need a walker.

Later, when he discarded the walker, his doctor said, “It’s just a miracle.”

Although his health issues forced him to step down as pastor of Rockvale Church, Johnson isn’t complaining. Instead, he is grateful for the quality of life he is enjoying. For him, every morning — even if he gets up and has to go right back to bed — is not just a good day, it’s a “fantastic day.” Beyond the blessings of this world, he looks forward to the day he wakes up in heaven.

“As a kid, my greatest thrill was coming home from college to see my mom and dad,” he said. “Now I can’t wait to get to heaven to see my Heavenly Father.”

In the meantime, he’ll keep savoring every breath of air, enjoying every prized relationship and seizing every opportunity to tell others of God’s great love.

“I can’t tell you how good God is to me,” said Johnson. “I’m the most blessed man I know.”

And when he prays this Thanksgiving, he won’t ask for anything. “I already have everything to be grateful for,” he said.