Through the Woods…

November Reflections
Over the River and Through the Woods…

Load the picnic basket, lawn chairs, old blankets, and be careful to keep the crockpot level!  Are all the pies in? Okay it’s “over the river and through the woods” we go…

For many years our family (now 15 of us), along with uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents have celebrated Thanksgiving out in the woods by gathering at a state park.  Living in Florida provides us the opportunity to enjoy being outdoors late in November.  Tables are lined with crockpots of potatoes and stuffing, trays are laden with roasted and fried turkey, an array of pies look tempting, and a multitude of festive dishes add to the excitement.  Coffee and hot cider bubble on cook stoves.  Lawn chairs, blankets, even playpens are spread around; adults are visiting and kids are throwing Frisbees and acorns at each other.

Just before eating, everyone gathers, encircling the tables, and hands are joined.  Attempts to “shush” the youngest ones are often futile, but no one seems to mind.  Every year we would bow our heads as Great Grandpa, or “Big PopPop” as the children called him, would pray.  His aged, raspy voice always began, “Dear Heavenly Father” and as he continued, with the campfire crackling in the background, I smiled at this precious moment with wiggling babies, gangly teens, aging parents, young families, all gathered together in God’s beautiful outdoors.  Soon the moment passed and chaos reigned as manners were replaced by hunger!

After everyone has eaten, it is time for the unwritten tradition of “the hike into the woods”.  This involves a couple of the daddies and all of the children.  (Mommies love this tradition!)  It also provided Great Grandpa the opportunity for a quick nap.  Before long the hikers have returned with treasures of an abandoned nest, some “priceless” rocks, part of a snake skin, some forlorn looking weeds, and a weird bug or two in a zip-lock bag.  The second round of nibbling at the food and diving into the pies begins, and the cameras start to make an appearance.  Each year we always question as to why this is thought of now that the children are tired and dirty from hiking!  Soon the afternoon sun begins to fade and with regret we know it’s time to pack up for another year.

This year as “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing,” we’ll be missing that sweet, raspy voice saying, “Dear Heavenly Father.”  I know I will always hear it in my heart, and that our dear Great Grandpa will be saying it in person to his Heavenly Father this Thanksgiving.  And for that I am truly thankful.

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Kline Family Thanksgiving 2013


Mary Byrne Kline


  1. What a beautiful share of treasured Thanksgiving memories…be still my heart!

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