If you were a prehistoric Aleut and your wife or husband died, your people braced your joints for grief. That is, they lashed hide bindings around your knees, ankles, elbows, shoulders, and hips…Otherwise, the Aleuts said, in your grief you would go to pieces…
- Annie Dillard, The Maytrees
When thirtysomethings Tim and Jenni Day joined Harvest Church three months ago, they were lashed to the Marshall’s home group. Lashed – that was a favorite word of Mrs. Marshall. "You two are now lashed to us by the love of Christ." That was three months ago now.
Due to blizzard conditions on I-70, Tim and Jenni couldn't get to St. Louis for Thanksgiving. The Marshalls were adamant: You must join us for dinner. The young couple found themselves sandwiched at the table between ten-year-old Jill Marshall and her twin brother Randy. Tim and Jenni expected Mr. Marshall to bless o' Lord the gifts they were about to receive. But instead, the twins grabbed their hands and sang:
We thank You for our food, Lord/And all the things You do, Lord.
We thank You for our food, Lord/And all our family. Doo-doo-doo-doo (snap, snap)
An Addams Family Thanksgiving Prayer? Really? Jenni got tickled and started cry-laughing. Tim was speechless. Mr. Marshall just grinned: “Isn’t that a fun one? Randy was watching an episode the other night on Cartoon Network and just came up with it. Sing it one more time kids.” And so they did.
As the encore snap-snapped, the doorbell rang. Mrs. Marshall's response was pavlovian: "Yikes! The crescent rolls are still in the oven! Baby, you'll have to get the door." Baby - another favorite word of Mrs. Marshall's; she always used it when speaking to her husband. After their parents left the dining room, Jill leaned over and whispered to Jenni: I sure wish you were my mother.
Little did any of the Marshalls know that Jenni had miscarried two weeks ago. The Days might share this anguish with their home group in time, but not yet. The story was still too tender. This year, Thanksgiving hurt. But a little girl’s words seemed to lash Jenni for the day, brace her, keep her from falling apart.