Love at the board

Our last Thanksgiving BC (before cancer), Alexandria, November 2011.

With Carla on our last Thanksgiving BC (before cancer), Alexandria, November 2011.

For hearts that are kindly, with virtue and peace,
and not seeking blindly a hoard to increase;
for those who are grieving o’er life’s sordid plan;
for souls still believing in heaven and man;
for homes that are lowly with love at the board;
for things that are holy, I thank thee, O Lord!

— Walt Mason

For many of us, this Thanksgiving will be a bittersweet time as we observe the holiday without loved ones.  This year, our family feels the absence of our Daddy who worked so hard for 87 years to ensure that we would celebrate this and all days with bounty, gratitude and reverence. We honor him today with the thankfulness he instilled in each one of us, bolstered by faith and renewed by deep joy in all that is beautiful and right in our world.

One year ago (2014), our family had experienced another sudden loss shortly before Thanksgiving.  Even so, we were able to come together as a family and reflect upon those blessings that remained, and encourage one another with hope for the future.

The year before that (2013), we had a most unconventional Thanksgiving day, exhausted yet filled with thankfulness and hope.

The year before that (2012), we were reeling in the shock of Jeff’s stage IV cancer diagnosis, having received bad news followed by worse news followed by even worse news. Yet even that year, there were reasons to be thankful.  Among them were the readers of the newly-begun Defeat Despair.

I didn’t know then that a blog I started as a personal effort to stay focused on blessings amid the trials was to introduce me to wonderful people all over the world.  Though I could not know it in those early days, I would find myself three years hence with dear friends whose existence was then unknown to me, and my dear husband, my rock and surest support, would still be with us, still working full time, still defying the odds.

Thus we face another Thanksgiving Day with full hearts and a deep sense of gratitude for mercies that truly are new every morning.  May each and every one who reads these words experience love, joy, peace and many reasons to be glad.  Happy Thanksgiving!

This post was first published seven years ago today. During those years, the losses, illnesses and struggles have multiplied, at times to the point of seeming almost unbearable. Yet I can say honestly that I have never been without the knowledge– at times only in my head rather than my heart, but there nonetheless– that I have been, and continue to be, richly blessed. May this season find each of us counting those blessings that remain in our lives, as we hope for new ones yet unknown.

The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Good morning, Julia!
    My son, Erik, is now re-employed in California, and so was unavailable to come for Thanksgiving this year, and my daughter,Jill, and son-in-law, Sylvain, went to London. However, my best friend from seventh grade (and many years after!) Invited Patrick and my son, Wesley, and Wes’ girlfriend, Kayla, and me to Thanksgiving dinner with her family, and we had a wonderful time.
    When you described hoping for blessings “yet unknown,” well, this Thanksgiving celebrating was certainly just that, a few weeks ago!

    • Susan, how wonderful for you! I can recall many Thanksgivings we had over the years with friends and loved ones who were, like us, far from extended family for the holidays. These are some of my favorite memories.

  2. Steve C Bodiford

    Your blog has turned into a very helpful guide to a road many have not traveled and the faith it takes to remain on that path. Despite the pain and suffering from having others leave and go forward ahead of you, there is a strength that resonates from you on this inevitable path for each of us. This is a very real and worthy undertaking that shows me, despite all that may and will befall me, I can praise the Lord for my blessings that I understand and those I do not. Thank you for being such a guide at this time in life.
    God’s blessings on you and all your loved ones…

    • Steve, thank you for this very thoughtful and kind comment. It means a great deal to me. After reading it, I could not help but wonder how you are doing? If you have time to email me a bit about your life now, I’d love to hear. We have come a long way from those relatively carefree college years…oddly they may not have felt carefree at the time (classes, tests, drama) but looking back, they definitely seem carefree! Thanks so much for being here, and warmest wishes for you and your loved ones this holiday season!

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