Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Thankful Thursday:) Happy Thanksgiving

25 Nov

“Give thanks for a little, and you will find a lot.”

~Hausa Proverb


I wake up every morning and think of all the people and things in my life that I am thankful for. But, on Thanksgiving, we set aside a National day on the calendar to celebrate. We should celebrate every day. Just not a good idea to eat like there’s no tomorrow every day. 🤦‍♀️

Today, I was invited to spend Thanksgiving with my friend Helene and her family. We are a lot and laughed a lot and the TV was on with a strange sporting game where a bunch of big men with little tight pants, wearing helmets all chase one guy with an almond shaped ball. They all jump on top of one another until a zebra man comes and blows a whistle. Then they stop and do it all over again. Weird game!

Thank you Helene, Mark, and Angie for a lovely Thanksgiving. Helene made chicken enchiladas and Spanish rice. Mark and Angie made a family recipe of blueberry crumble cake.
I brought my first ever attempt at a turkey shaped cheese and cracker snack tray. I think it turned out cute for a first try.

It was a good day, even though it’s been raining for two solid days. I couldn’t even go out for a stroll to walk some of this off.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 🤗

Thankful Thanksgiving Thursday:) Feeling Blessed

26 Nov

“I try counting my blessings every day, but I just can’t count that high.“

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


I know we should count our blessings every day, but Thanksgiving is that special national holiday that we are reminded to take time out to think about all the things and people we have to be thankful for.

Today, I am especially thankful for my beautiful family. I was able to FaceTime with my sister, my oldest son, his wife, the granddaughters and Nana. They may be far away, but FaceTime keeps us close.

So adorable!

I also talked to my California boy, and wished him a Very Vegan Happy Thanksgiving.

I was invited to have dinner with my friend Helene and her family today. Instead of turkey, they made a festive Mexican meal of chicken enchiladas, rice, beans, and awesome desserts. Right up my alley. It’s three hours later and I still feel like “I’m goin’ to splode!”

Four people but enough food for 40. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Before dinner, we played a round of Cribbage. I never played before, and learning all the rules and point system was overwhelming. My brain was “goin’ to splode.” I still don’t get it. I’m going to stick with War or solitaire or something less stressful.

Today, I am also thankful for the rest of my awesome family all over the country. I am thankful for my many, many friends all over the world. I am blessed with a fine home, health, love, happiness, great neighbors, my faith, my fears, and my strengths.

Most importantly, today, I am thankful for stretchy pants and baggy sweaters.

Happy Thankful Thanksgiving Thursday, my friends.

Thankful Thursday:) Happy Thanksgiving

29 Nov

Neal A. Maxwell

“We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.”


When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t help but think that Thanksgiving isn’t just a day on the calendar. Thanksgiving is a way of life, and I am thankful for my many blessings, my beautiful family and my wonderful friends.

I received an early morning phone call from my friend Mandy who lives in California. She was in town visiting with family, and she asked if she and her husband Tim could stop by for a visit. Well, I was delighted. I haven’t seen her in a couple of years or more. What a wonderful surprise. I jumped out of bed and frantically started baking a batch of brownies and cleaning up the kitchen. I was so excited, I forgot to take a selfie of us …that’s not like me. So, I stole a photo from her Facebook page. So good to see you Mandy and Tim. Thank you for the visit.

After their lovely visit, I needed to walk the dog and gather up some last minute things. I called my sister Jo Ann, to wish her a happy birthday. Her birthday happened to fall on Thanksgiving this year. When she answered the phone, I started to sing, “Las Mañanitas” in my very poor Spanish. (That’s the traditional Mexican birthday song.) She laughed, but appreciated the effort.

Then, I gathered up my brownies and Snicker peanut butter pie to take over to the Sherri and Michael’s. Here’s the cool story about the Murphy’s. When I opened my Facebook page this morning, there was a photo from 2013 of the fireplace at my old house, and a little blurb about what I was thankful for. The actual truth was, I was a total mess that year. It was my first Thanksgiving alone in 60 years.

I was going through a traumatic divorce in 2013. I was alone, afraid, and devastated. I was still married, but living alone in that big house while it was for sale and on the market. My not so discreet husband had moved out, living in a brand new condo, and was busy making Thanksgiving dinner for his girlfriend, the waitress from his country club. Those were not good days, but I was still thankful. I was thankful for my family and friends. But, I was still a big mess.

I’ll never forget that year. My friend Sherri Murphy had invited me over for Thanksgiving because she new I was alone, but I politely declined, Thanksgiving, to me, meant family, love, laughing, great food, and making memories. I felt blindsided and broken. That Thursday morning, I looked at my Facebook page and there was a cheery picture of Sherri Murphy’s beautiful kitchen, all decorated with pumpkins and the beautiful table settings. She posted a picture of the name tags she was making for each plate, and she said, “And I have one here for my friend Toni. I hope she changes her mind and comes for dinner today.”

Well, I cried like a baby, then later called Sherri and asked her what time I should be there. That’s when I realized that I WAS part of a family. Family isn’t always about blood relatives. It’s about the people who love you. I do have a wonderful family, but they live far away. But, I am truly blessed because I also have my McKinney family. They are right here, and I know I’ll always be part of their family.

Six years later, here I am. Life is good and I can honestly say that I am happy. I’ve been invited to the Murphy’s every Thanksgiving, and several other friends have invited me over too. But, I’ll never forget that day in 2013, and that place setting that said “Toni” on it, and I know that I’ll always be part of the Murphy family. I love you guys!!!

Family means love, laughing, great food and making memories.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.

Thursday:) Thankful and Blessed

23 Nov

“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.”



This morning, my friend Mary texted me asking if I was going to 10 o’clock Mass. She thought it would be nice to greet together at the door like we do on Sunday. I really didn’t plan on it, although it crossed my mind all week. I do have a lot to be thankful for on this beautiful Thanksgiving day. So, I said sure.

It was a beautiful morning, and I didn’t expect many people at church because I thought most folks would be out of town, over to family gatherings or busy cooking. To my surprise, the church was packed and it was a wonderful service. Everyone was there for the same reason. To say thank you to the one who deserves the thanks. It was nice.

Mary and I stopped for coffee at McDonald’s and chatted for about an hour. I scurried home to get a couple of batches of brownies in the oven. While the brownies were in the oven, I returned my son’s call. Both my boys called while I was at church. Matt is in California and his new job is going well. Joe said that the baby was napping and he’d call later when she woke up so we could FaceTime.

A nice long chat with Matt while the brownies baked, (one batch had cut up Snickers) Then, a nice FaceTime visit with my grand-daughter after her nap.

My Thanksgiving was already wonderful. The brownies finally cooled enough to cut and put on a tray, so I drove over to Station 9. Last week when I stopped by, the firemen said if I didn’t have plans for Thanksgiving, I was more than welcome to join them. I thought that was sweet. When I arrived, the place was hopping with visitors, family and kids. They thanked me for the brownies and again, said that I could come back for dinner. Aw! That was so nice. But, I did have plans.

Oh, and I also brought a hand-painted ornament that said FIRE STATION #9 2018. This will be their first Christmas in this brand new station. I asked if they had a tree. They looked at each other quite perplexed. I guess they hadn’t thought about that yet. No, they didn’t have one yet. Hmm? We’ll have to check on that.

A little while later, my dear friends Sherri and Michael picked me up and we went to have Thanksgiving dinner at their daughter’s house, with all the family, in-laws, out-laws, family and friends.

Sherri and Michael always invite me to spend holidays with her family. I guess we are kinda family, just not by blood.

These are the days I really count my blessings. I started out by thanking God for my blessings, then spent the rest of the day being blessed with truly wonderful friends. I am thankful and blessed.

Thankful Thursday:) Happy Thanksgiving

24 Nov

“Every day should be Thanksgiving, and we should wake each day thinking what we are thankful for. But, man,,,I couldn’t eat like this every day. I’d explode,”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.

~William Arthur Ward


Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day, is a public holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November[1] in the United States. It originated as a harvest festival. Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, after Congress requested a proclamation by George Washington.[2] It has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1863, when, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.Together with Christmas and the New Year, Thanksgiving is a part of the broader fall/winter holiday season in the U.S.



I bet I can think of one thing you are thankful for today. You’re happy I didn’t post pictures of my turkey, and stuffing, and sweet potatoes, and all the other stuff. I’d need a wide angle lens, and I need one now for my selfie. So, I’ll spare you. It was a good day, with calls from my sons, talks with family and friends, a good meal and a beautiful sunset. There are so many people who go hungry every day. I feel truly blessed with good food, good friends, and a wonderful family.

Here is what I’m thankful for…

At the end of the day, my heart is full of joy, my eyes are full of beauty, my belly is full of good food. You can say, as my mother often does, “Why, you’re just full of it.”

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.

Now, something funny.

Tuesday:) Let’s Talk Turkey

30 Nov

“…no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.” 

― Julia Child, My Life in France


Thanksgiving dinner is synonymous with leftovers. I haven’t made a turkey dinner in several years. So, this year, I decided I was going to make a turkey and all the fixings. It was delicious…now, what to do with the leftovers…

Rule number one: always have several very big pots and pans.

Rule number two: try and use as many leftovers as possible. Experiment.

Rule number three: share with friends and neighbor’s because you couldn’t possibly eat all that food yourself. And, your freezer is probably as full as mine.

I boiled the remains of the turkey for three hours in a very large pot. Then, I carefully removed all the good meat and broth. There was enough to make two big pots.  I chopped carrots, celery, potatoes, and onions. One pot I made soup and the other I made a creamy stew. 

Then, there was some leftover turkey breast for making turkey salad. I added grapes, diced apples, cream cheese, mayo, then sprinkled with walnuts. 

Just when you thought I was done and couldn’t possibly make any more turkey dishes, I used some of the stew to make mini pot pies.

I rolled out some biscuits, buttered a muffin pan, filled with the stew, sprinkled with a little cheese, and topped with another thin layer of biscuit and bake. Oh boy! These were soooo yummy.

Yep, these are as delicious as they look. I just ate one. Yep, delicious. I’ve been sharing with friends. That’s rule number three.

Thankful Thursday:) Happy Thanksgiving Y’All

25 Nov

“The more we thank God, the less we ask of him.” ― Ron Brackin


It’s nice that we set aside one day out of her year to be thankful. But, why is it just one day a year? Maybe we should have Thanksgiving every third Thursday of every month. Wouldn’t that be nice? We could have a big turkey dinner with all the fixings, and have all the relatives over,  and then everyone lay around like overstuffed gorillas. Okay! Never mind. That’s not such a good idea after all.

But, it would be a good idea to set aside more than just one day to be thankful. How about every day that ends with “y.” Today I am thankful for many things. First and foremost is my family. I have two amazing sons, a wonderful mother, two sisters, gads of aunts, uncles, a zillion cousins, and many special in-law relatives that will always remain part of my family. I don’t get to see theses folks often, and some I have never even met. But, they are family, and I love them. Thank goodness for Facebook, because I get to keep in touch with family far away. 

Then, I have so many dear friends here in McKinney, back home in the Chicago area, and others scattered around the country. So, yes, I have much to be thankful for. I have many material possessions, a house, a car, and stuff. It’s all stuff. Friends and family are the most important.

Today, I am thankful for all the calls and texts from family and friends. I am thankful for my dear friend, Jim, who not only helped me prepare a wonderful dinner, but also washed all the dishes and helped me clean up the mess. 

It was a beautiful sunny autumn day here in McKinney, a beautiful Thanksgiving day. I hope yours was great too.

“The more we thank God, the less we ask of him.” 

― Ron Brackin

(I guess I don’t have a lot to ask Him for.)

Thankful Thursday:) HAPPY THANKSGIVING

27 Nov

Today, I am thankful for so many things

The  sun in the morning, and the warmth that it brings
The grey clouds of autumn with its fresh gentle rain 

The laughter of a children that your heart can’t explain

Holding hands before dinner, bowing heads in a prayer

Most important of all, is the love that we share.


~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Today I am thankful for so many things, health, family, friends, phone calls, and texts of well wishes for a happy Thanksgiving. At first, I was going to just stay home alone today and mope. I said, “It’s just another day.” But, I was invited by a couple of different friends, and I told them, “Thanksgiving is for families.” My family was broken and my loved ones far away. I wasn’t feeling very festive. Too many memories of family holidays that will never be the same. 

Then last night, I was up till almost 2am painting and working on ornaments, and I checked my Facebook page before bed. My dear friend Sherri Murphy posted a picture of her homemade place cards for her dinner table, and she said, ” And I made one for Toni and I hope she will come and join us.” Well, after I wiped away the tears, I replied, “Guess who’s coming for dinner?”

I have been blessed with so many wonderful friends who have become my family. For this I am truly thankful.

Sherri and Michael Murphy, on the far right, have shared their home and their hearts with me for many years. I love you guys!

Oh yes, if I was going to go to dinner, of course, I would have to bake some of my famous brownies and make a funny face before mixing. I had to contemplate a long time to think of a way to make a turkey funny face in my brownie mix, as per my tradition. Here’s what I came up with.

I thought it was pretty cute. Weird, but cute. They always taste delicious after I get done being goofy.



Thankful Thursday:Happy Thanksgiving

28 Nov

“Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks.”
― Thomas Goodwin
Today is Thanksgiving, a day we set aside to be thankful for our blessings, our families, and our friends. I try to be thankful every day, but it’s nice that we set aside a special day every year, make it a national holiday, and force people to eat massive quantities of turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie. Just kidding. I don’t think anyone is forced.

I spent the day talking to friends and family on the phone and took a couple of walks. It was such a beautiful sunny day, it was a shame not to take advantage of it. Old man winter is not far behind. My special holiday meal was a big bowl of Greek yogurt with apples, bananas, and granola. Not as yummy as my usual Snug on the Square yogurt parfait, but pretty close.

So, here are some cool pics of what I see every day on my walks. You can see why I am thankful for my new house, new friends, and new neighborhood.

The horses were enjoying their Thanksgiving meal.

This little pond and fountain is a favorite spot to visit.

One of my little duck friends was quacking and taking a swim.

I started out my day the way I’ll end my day, talking to friends and family, writing, sipping a cup of tea, and being thankful.


Friday: Flesh and Blood Friendship From Chaplain Jim

30 Nov

Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.
George Eliot

My friend Army Chaplain Jim shared a heart-warming Thanksgiving story from his childhood. You never know when an selfless act of kindness might influence another human being for the rest of their life. It will make you think how you might be able change a life or perhaps how someone influenced yours.

One of my most memorable Thanksgivings was when I was in 5th grade on a rainy fall day in north Florida. My dad had disappeared– his binge-drinking alcoholism that he had hidden for I don’t know how many years, had in the months before Thanksgiving that year, become the guiding theme of my family’s life. The church had a community Thanksgiving dinner that day in its basement– probably because they knew the pastor’s family– my family– would be needing it with the pastor– my dad– disappeared, and God only knew where.

What was most memorable about that Thanksgiving was David, another 5th grader, who had quickly become my best friend in that town. He walked from his house to mine in the rain– probably about a mile or so– and the two of us walked together to the church through the rain with his new baby brother in the stroller he was pushing. That simple act of grace by another kid still brings tears to my eyes as I write about it 39 years later. David was enfleshing the presence and love of Christ for ME, in the midst of MY shattered world–not just for “somebody” who might need it, but for ME. That one incident of grace, of Jesus enfleshed for me in another kid, is one of the handfull of experiences in my life that immediately comes to mind when I think of what grace and what Thanksgiving is all about.

For all I know, maybe his parents put him up to it, I don’t know. He may not have even known how powerful his little walk in the rain was for me. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is a flesh and blood kid became the flesh and blood love of Jesus for me when I needed it most. David didn’t have any special training to be Jesus for me– other than having been brought up in the church by a loving, Christ-centered family.

I’m guessing the kids you have are flesh and blood kids too. I’m guessing they have friends too, and at any given time– even this Thanksgiving– some of those friends are as desperately in need of the flesh and blood love of Jesus as I was on that rainy Thanksgiving day. I’m guessing you have friends. Knowing just enough statistics to be dangerous, you can count on the fact that someone among YOUR friends and acquaintances is in need of the flesh and blood love of Jesus this Thanksgiving, just as much or more than I was 39 years ago this week.

A little paraphrase from an old show you probably don’t remember can be a reminder: “Who knows what suffering lurks in the hearts of men– Only the Spirit knows…”– But the Holy Spirit is also eager to use you and your kids– young and “untrained” as they may be– to be the flesh and blood love of Jesus today, this Thanksgiving, and each and every day. Are you willing and able to work miracles of grace with something as simple as a walk with a friend? Are your kids aware that, young as they are, they can make a difference for eternity in a friend’s life without even knowing it? Your welcome to share my story, or your own story this Thanksgiving, to remind them of God’s calling in THEIR lives too.

Thanks David– and keep being a blessing- Rev. Jim

Chaplain (Major) James R. Lewis
371st Sustainment Brigade
Brigade Chaplain
DSN: (318) 430-4106
NIPR: james.r.lewis1.mil@mail.mil
SIPR: james.r.lewis1@swa.army.smil.mil