Monday, November 29, 2010

Random Thankfulness

Yes, you're right of course. Thanksgiving Day is over for another year. Now, we're catapulting toward Christmas. Black Friday has faded to a dingy gray by now.

Someone on the Christian radio station I listen to said, "Thanksgiving is Christmas without the guilt." I like that. So if you'll extend to me a small portion of grace, I want to linger around Thanksgiving for a bit, listing a few random things for which I'm . . . grateful.

I'm thankful for Jerry Spinelli. One of my junior high English classes just finished reading Maniac Magee. We loved it. Spinelli is the master of lists, a.k.a. catalogues. (Until I read MM, I thought Walt Whitman held that title.) Spinelli will make a general statement, one that would cause a critique partner to scream, "Show! Don't tell!" Then he slaps down eight or ten short, descriptive sentence fragments to paint in the sensory details. And what the man does with with extended metaphors is phenomenal. Some of those run for two or three paragraphs. As I taught novel structure and literary devices, Spinelli taught me.

I'm thankful for God's providence. When I resigned from classroom teaching to go full-time as a storyteller, I had no intention of ever serving in that capacity again. Just over a month ago, I was offered, and accepted, a teaching position at a Christian school. My first reaction was, "Hooray!" My second was, "How am I to finish my manuscript for The Second Cellar in time to get it to the agent who [at the ACFW conference] asked to see the full in six months [from conference]?" My third was, "Isn't that just like You, Lord, to plop me down smack-dab in the middle of a bunch of wonderful junior-high kids--my target audience?" Five days a week I'm surrounded by their vivacity, their chatter, and their adolescent angst. It's amazing. And I'm thankful.

I'm thankful for lots of dirty dishes on holy-days. They signify much. Family. The sound of adult voices, each with its own cadence, lost in conversation, trying to hear and be heard above the cacophony of the little cousins giggling and chasing each other through the house, up the stairs, and back again. Family. Gathered around the table. Holding hands and praying, while trying to ignore the mingled fragrance of roasted turkey, sage-and-onion dressing, assorted pies, some specialty coffee, and a caramel-scented candle. Family. Reciting a litany of ingredients for the corn casserole, the cranberry relish, Gran'ma's oyster dressing, the absolute best pie-crust recipe known to man. Family. Listening to the cousins sing, "We Gather Together," "For the Beauty of the Earth," and "Over the River and Through the Woods." Family. God's family. Enjoying a dress rehearsal for the coming Heavenly Feast where the King of Kings will sit at the head of the table. Where we won't have to worry about the dirty dishes. As Maniac Magee would say, "Amen."

by Sharon Kirk Clifton


  1. P-E-R-F-E-C-T for the Mon after Thanksgiving! Thanks, Sharon! :-)

  2. Thanks for sharing, Sharon. This was beautiful, and I appreciate you. Congrats on the new position, and the Lord will give you the time needed to finish your manuscript. For some reason, I'm hungry now... Blessings!

  3. Thank you, Millie and JoAnn, for your kind words. If you're thinking about getting this book for a youngster in your life, I will warn you that it has a very few "crude" words in it, coming from a couple crude little boys, not Magee. They're not curse words, though.

    Because of Christ,