According to legend, the daily ration of the Pilgrims in their early winters in America fell to five kernels of corn. (Can you feel your blood sugar plummeting?) The Pilgrims set later Thanksgiving tables with plates containing only five corn kernels in remembrance of God's sustaining grace. I love that—five kernels of corn holding the village spellbound amidst a table of plenty. Our family also strives to focus on the physical and spiritual providence of our God by setting a family table of remembrance.
The center of our Thanksgiving table is adorned with hand-print crafts, some old, some new. Each place is set with a handmade napkin ring with a photo of the family member and a namecard decorated in “thumb print art.” Each place setting holds a card printed with the words to Psalm 100 and a plate containing five kernels of unpopped popcorn. At the head of the table sits our Thanksgiving jar. Although the table is an eclectic mix of children's crafts amid “the good dishes” and elegantly designed centerpieces, each item carries special meaning.
The napkin rings with their photos and the center crafts with their variously sized handprints remind us how God faithfully supplies our needs. Faces change, hands grow, and faiths stretch and strengthen, all due to the providence of a gracious God. The personalized namecards and thumbprint art remind us that each of us has a special place in our family and in God's family, having been uniquely knit by Him, called by name, and preserved for His special purpose.
When we read Psalm 100 aloud together, we remember to whom we owe our thanks. We hear at Thanksgiving that people are thankful, but rarely do we hear to whom they are thankful. We sadly wonder if many even know who grants them life and sustains them. We want our children to intimately know the God who feeds their bodies and souls, and to recognize Him, not their own labors or good fortune, as the source of all blessings.
Finally, the five kernels of corn. As the Thanksgiving jar travels around, each person states five things for which he is thankful to God, while placing five kernels into the jar. The same jar is used each year and is never emptied. As the years progress and the family grows, new kernels are piled atop the remembered blessings of years gone by.
Our Thanksgiving table decor is tucked away after the holiday. Our Thanksgiving jar, however, is a constant presence. When the heaviness of life weighs on us, or when God feels distant, a glance at the jar reminds us of His providence and nearness. It nudges us to give thanks for all things at all times, not just on Thanksgiving. There is a lot of room left in that jar, a lot of room for the workings of a mighty God throughout the future generations of a grateful and God-focused family.