A Family to Be Thankful For

A mother of four has her faith restored by store-bought pies and the prayer of a child.

By Cynthia Cutts, Lincoln, California

As appeared in

I knew putting together a traditional Thanksgiving dinner would take extra organization, what with four kids (two still in diapers) and my husband, Jerry, working long hours. So I wrote a to-do list and stuck it on the fridge at the beginning of the week. I figured I’d cross off a few items each day.

But now it was the day before Thanksgiving and nothing was done. Not the fresh cranberry sauce. Or the homemade dinner rolls. Not even the most important thing on our family’s menu—the pies. Pumpkin and apple, made from scratch using recipes passed down from my mom and Jerry’s.

I put Halley and Casey down for their naps. Now I can start the pies, I thought, setting the ingredients out. The phone rang. Justin, my 13-year-old.

“Mom, can you bring my basketball uniform to school? I just found out we have a game tonight.”

“Sure,” I said, stifling a sigh. I hung up and saw that a stack of newspapers had been dropped off in the drive for my nine-year-old, Corbett, to deliver. The papers were bulging with Thanksgiving ads. Corbett couldn’t carry them on his bike. I’d have to drive him.

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I took out the trash, hauled in the papers, then cleaned sticky fingerprints from the fridge. There, practically smirking at me, was my to-do list. I checked my watch: 3:45 already?! The door slammed. “Hi, Mom,” Corbett said.

“Corbett, your brother has a game so let’s get your paper route done,” I said. I bundled the babies into their car seats, then ran back for Justin’s uniform. I looked at the apples, pumpkin and spices on the counter. “Guess I’m not making those pies now,” I grumbled.

Jerry got out of work early enough to go to the game, but by the time we got home, ate dinner and tucked the kids in, it was almost 10:00 P.M. The sight of the pie ingredients on the counter made me want to cry. I sat down and buried my head in my arms.

“What’s wrong?” Jerry asked.

“I wanted Thanksgiving to be perfect,” I moaned, “but I never even had time to make pies!”

“Don’t worry, honey. I’ll just buy some,” he said.

“We can’t buy Thanksgiving pies!”

“Sure, we can,” Jerry said.

“But they won’t be our family’s pies.”

Jerry gave me a hug. “The kids won’t care. They’ll eat anything. You’re so busy taking care of everyone. Let the boys and me take over this Thanksgiving.”

“Fine,” I said, too tired to argue.

The next morning I surrendered the kitchen to the guys. Six hours later Corbett came to get me. I followed him into the dining room. There on the table was a Thanksgiving feast. A beautifully browned turkey, Jerry’s handiwork. Cranberry sauce and hot dinner rolls, both straight from a can and proudly prepared by Corbett. Sweet potatoes topped with melted marshmallows, and instant mashed potatoes, whipped up by Justin. And on the sideboard sat the pies—apple and pumpkin, store-bought.

We sat down and Corbett said grace. “Dear God, thanks for all the food, especially the yummy pies. Thank you for a great mom who does so much for us. Thanks most of all that we get to be together. Amen.”

I opened my eyes and looked around the table. Corbett was right. Being together was what mattered. I’d gotten my perfect Thanksgiving after all.

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Your Comments (16)

I loved the story. It is so true that we tend to focus on the wrong things and forget what we need to remember. Thanksgiving is for being together and giving thanks for all we have. This year my 11 year old daughter made me so proud. After dinner, we were all sitting around doing different things and she came in and announced that we were going to say what we were thankful for. She, at least, remembered that this time of year if for family and thankfulness.

Our family has a simpler way to celebrate every special occasion. The host makes the turkey (or whatever the main dish is). Every guest is assigned a small part of the menu to bring. We have all our favorites with little expense and time. Meal is always great. For those that are traveling, they bring wine or something else that needs no prep.Happy Holidays everyone.Got to make some veggies for dinner.

My husband has always cooked the perfect Thanksgiving feast. He loves to do this! The most important thing however is that we are all together! We have raised 4 amazing children and our family is growing. We now have 2 beautiful grands, and this year our baby boy has become engaged. We have so much to be thankful for.

Thaksgiving is a time of thanks and family! unfortunately over the years I have seen the holiday change dramatically and be more focused on the "Black Friday" sales after Thanksgiving and people forget what Thanksgiving is really about. Which then in turns to bring us to Christmas another family and joyous and thankful holiday. Some families have got tied up in all the monetary things rather than what really matters and what is important. The story has made a great point that being together and being thankful to being together is what it is about. If more people wound take enough time to read this I am sure that some people would get reminded of what Thanksgiving and Christmas is all about. Not "Happy Holidays" and watch the sales. Great article!!

If you have trouble cooking a turkey, try Reynolds Cooking bags--I have used them for years and out comes the perfect turkey EVERY TIME! I LOVE them! Have a blessed Thanksgiving however you spend it. God is good, ALL the time!

This is so true! I have used the cooking bags for years ever since I had to stop using the brown paper bags due to recycling. I put strips of good bacon over the breast of the turkey to add moistness and a little extra flavor.

I also use the bags for beef and pork roast!

I think I've tried to cook a turkey three times over the many years and each time I've somehow managed to fowl things up (forgot to take the giblets out of cavity, didn't let it cook long enough, or let it cook too long again with the giblets and neck still in the cavity). I no longer try to cook turkey's I'll buy one already cooked or we go somewhere for Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for my blessings, for the nourshing food we have to eat, and especially for my family members who are able to share Thanksgiving together, creating new memories with all the new little additions to our family.

Reminded me so much of the story of Mary and Martha!

I am already calming myself of the panic that keeps trying to seep into the Holiday after I insanely volunteered to have dinner at my house. Why is it suddenly so important that I wash down the walls & cabinets? I've finally focused on just the important things like preparing the food & being ready for quality family time. It took a lot of the edge off.

A beautiful story and a lesson I learned years ago when sitting around the table with my boisterous family. Most of us are spread all over the country and some of our family have passed on, so 'together' holidays are even more special.

What a wonderful and timely reminder that "perfect" is in the eyes of the beholder. My husband and raised three sons to manhood-- two married--no grands, yet-- and now the "daughters" and I put together a feast on Chinet plates so that we, too, can enjoy the Cowboy game for the perfect Thanksgiving!This also works for other holidays and family events!

When I first married I thought I had to do everything my Mother did at holidays even though I was working full time and pregnant. My husband quickly reminded me that not only did my Mother not work, but she had many years to decide what she wanted to do and how to make it all work. Since then I haven't driven myself crazy. At least not over stuff like this.

Such a beautiful Thanksgiving story!

Cindy, Loved your story and if more of us could remember this would make things a lot easier....thanx for sharing.Gerrie is a good life time friend :)

Holidays can be hectic, especially for moms but maybe, just maybe, we should slow down and find short cuts. Your sweet story reflects love of God and family values and cooperation. Good stuff!