Monthly Archives: November 2011

Being Thankful

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States and I wanted to share some thoughts and ramble a little bit. This is one of those holidays that is steeped in tradition, yet there are only a few traditions in the holiday that may be common. Most traditions for this holiday are individual to the families that have them.

I did some research on the origins of Thanksgiving in the US and it confused me more than helped. Of course the research I conducted was on the internet and we all know how factual and accurate the internet is. The consensus is the first Thanksgiving was in the Autumn of 1621. Some believe it was a day of fasting and prayer, while others believed dinner was served. There are sites that state the feast lasted three days. I found one site that stated what I wrote above how some said there was no feast while others said there was, then a few paragraphs later write about the three day feast. From what I can gather is if there was a feast most likely there was no pumpkin pie and Turkey may or may not have been there.

I will be celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends. We started this tradition a few years ago. I believe this will be out fourth one, though it may only be the third. The number of years is really not that important. We celebrate Thanksgiving with our church family and include anyone that would like to join us regardless of there church orientation. It is a potluck affair with all the trimmings including traditional family trimmings that are new to other families. We enjoy our time sharing what we are thankful for and being thankful together. I like it because several families share bringing us all together not unlike I would like to think the pilgrims did with the indians.

Regardless of how the first Thanksgiving was or how all of us celebrate it, there is one thing I think that most all of us that celebrate this holiday can agree on. Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful, regardless if you are thankful to God, to a higher power of some sort, to your family, or to something or someone else that I cannot think of or name. It is a time of reflection and thought. I know I think about it. What am I truly thankful for? If the answer is an easy snap to conclusion then I challenge that it may not be what you or I are truly or at least deeply thankful for.

This year it is harder to find or think of something to be deeply thankful for. I say this is not because we as a people have nothing to be thankful for, but more that there are a lot of negative things going on in our country that make it harder to focus on what is really important. Not important to our country, but important to ourselves as individuals. It is easy to focus on the negatives and miss out on the positives. I say we must focus on the positive so that we do not completely lose sight of it and allow it to slip from our lives. Thanksgiving is the day or a least a very good day to do that.

I am thankful for my family. This may seem a simple or easy answer, but it isn’t. To put it more deeply, I am thankful that my son and I still spend time together quietly and rambunctiously even though he is, or in spite of the fact that he is becoming a teenager. I thankful that he still looks up to me and still shares with me. I am thankful that my wife and I still love each other after sixteen years of marriage, which is not too common nowadays. I am thankful that we have a family dog that is so intelligent and loving, also a best buddy and confidant of my son. I am thankful that no matter how bad my day is I know I am loved by my family. So when I say I am thankful for my family it isn’t just lip service or an easy answer it is a deep thoughtful answer that can be thought of and used to keep positive regardless of how negative life can be.

What are you thankful for?

Webelos Woods

This last weekend was a dad weekend for me, though some may call it just a Boy Scout camp out. I am an Assistant Scout Master for my son’s troop and have been a leader with him since Tiger Cubs in First Grade. What is great about camp outs in Boy Scouts is that it gives us some great father-son bonding time away from mom nearly one weekend every month. The troop is boy lead, which means the adults that are there mainly observe, offer recommendations, and keep activities safe. This works out pretty well because it takes away a lot of the teen angst and rebellion that boys often project towards their parents. When we camp Jeremy is lead by his Patrol, so his and my relationship is more camaraderie and less him seeing me as controlling him. Mostly he hangs with his Patrol, but I am always around and he is always showing me what he can do and sharing. It is a great thing to be so involved in watching your son grow.

Jeremy and his Patrol (Lightning Patrol)

lightningpatrol Webelos Woods

Webelos Woods is an annual camp out that is used to introduce and recruit Webelos 2′s (oldest group of the Cub Scouts) to Boy Scouts. This year we had eight boys join us at Ft. Churchill. The troop arrives the night before to set up camp and the next morning various stations are set up by patrol to show and teach campfire building, knot tying, first aid, back pack packing, and cooking. The Webelos arrive after lunch and are introduced to a Boy Scout camp opening ceremony and assigned to the stations to learn and have fun.

One thing different about a Webelos Woods and any other boy scout camp out is that the adults at this one cook the dinner Saturday night and Sunday morning Breakfast. Since it is November we cooked a Thanks Giving feast! Dad’s are just big kids, boys love FIRE and so do dads! Me and another dad got to cook the Turkeys not just anyway, but in deep fryers. I had two going with the oil being heated by propane burners. Other dads cooked the potatoes, stuffing, ham, and pies, all done on outdoor stoves and with Dutch Ovens. We also had rolls, salad, and cranberry. The boys were fed well that night.

That’s me in the middle at my post frying turkeys

turkeycooking01 Webelos Woods

Here’s one done

turkeycooking02 Webelos Woods

 

Serving the feast

turkeyfeast Webelos Woods

After Dinner we had campfire. The Boy Scouts ran it. They built the fire and started it with style. Using a zip line from a tree they suspended a fire nest that was started aflame with flint and steel then let go to zip to the main fire pit, where it started the campfire. Then they proceeded to entertain the boys and dads with skits and stories around the campfire. They included the Webelos where they could to make them feel as part of the troop even if only for the night.

Oooh…. FIRE!

campfire Webelos Woods

In closing of the Campfire the Boy Scouts Retired some American flags. Traditionally only Boy Scouts and the military can retire an American flag. There are two ways to do it. One way is to Render the flag. This is done by ripping the stripes off and making it so that it is no longer recognizable as an American flag. The other way is to burn it in a retirement ceremony. This is the way the Boy Scouts usually do it.

First a Color Guard escorts and presents the flag to be retired.

Unfolding the Flag

The boys are in Uniform, but it is cold and they have their jackets on over.

retirecolors01 Webelos Woods

Present, COLORS!

The boys present the unfolded flag. The audience is standing at attention.

retirecolors02 Webelos Woods

Retire, COLORS!

The boys move the flag over the fire.

retirecolors03 Webelos Woods

The colors are lowered into the flame and the edges folded into the flame as it starts to catch.

retirecolors04 Webelos Woods

During the retiring (burning) of the flag the audience holds a scout salute, hand salute, or their hands over their hearts depending on who they are and how they are dressed. This is an honorable and solemn ceremony. It is also one of the favorite things for the boys to do and it definitely inspired the new boys there that night.

After this it’s Smore’s and then lights out for the boys. The Webelos camp out the night with us. The next morning the dads cook up a breakfast of pancakes, sausage, and eggs. After breakfast is cleanup, a service project, and then closing ceremonies. Before we left we toured the fort museum and watched them light off one of the cannon for us.

I wonder how many of you had as much fun as I did this last weekend?