Harvest Thanksgiving

      As it is quite impossible to ignore Thanksgiving Weekend, a fair bit of my time this week has been spent thinking about the value of this well-entrenched Canadian Holiday!
     St. Paul exhorts us in 1Thess. 5-v.16-18, to “give thanks in all circumstances” so first of all it is important to retrace my steps through the past week and to do just that!
     The first Senior Youth Camp Bible Study would be a good place to start as I was most thankful to spend a quiet evening cozily tucked up in my studio listening to the hum of conversation as 14 teens and Young Adults grappled with a passage from Ephesians. It is a blessing to feel that the house is being used for such a valuable purpose  and I gave thanks for having managed to keep this home for 5 years, since my Dad’s death, against some fairly steep odds.
      Early in the week we received 3 excellent sketches, from Rebecca, for our “Follow the Leader” cover design. I quickly sent around to poll all committee members, a choice was made, and we are now excitedly awaiting the final colour version which Rebecca has promised by Monday!  Definitely something for which to give thanks!
     Wednesday, Jessica came for a visit and we cooked a special dinner of squash and sage ravioli, most Autumnal and yummy.  The visit gave us opportunity to discuss more Day Camp plans as well as for me to hear all about the Chef’s course she is currently enrolled in. As I have mentioned many times, I am inordinately thankful, (particularly as a single person, lacking biological family) to have opportunities to share in the lives of so many wonderful young adults.
     The weather has been truly lovely all week, with the gorgeous blue skies and the special light which only comes in the fall. Sunday, following some afternoon rains, we received the gift of a double rainbow!! I took some photos, which really do not do it justice, it was fabulous! And today, after putting in some raking, I sat on the deck with Wil drinking a cup of coffee and was treated to the amazing spectacle of a huge, and clamorous skein of geese, flying right overhead, what a gift!!
Some time, this week, has also been spent working on fabric brooches, which will be my “crafty” contribution to the November 2nd Coffee House. It has been just lovely to sit in the sunshine on the porch, with a pot of tea and to pull together various fabric scraps, beads and buttons into what I hope are pretty (and sale-worthy!) items.  So here we are on Thanksgiving Saturday. One of the things I most appreciate about this holiday is that, despite the secularisation of other major Christian Festivals, it is somehow accepted by all Canadians. The question being-to whom does the general populace give thanks?

   Well I would like to think that perhaps some people who do not spend much time thinking about God, might just pause on this Holiday to consider the presence of a Creator who provides so richly for us in this country, and maybe, just maybe, they do Give Thanks to Our Lord. 
For many years one of my favourite tasks was the baking of a Challah Loaf, which, with bunches of green, red and purple grapes, graced the altar, at St. Matthew’s for Harvest Thanksgiving. Just in case, I always baked 2 loaves and then chose the prettiest to deliver, on the Saturday morning of Thanksgiving, into the hands of the Altar Guild Ladies, who were always out in force, decorating the whole church with fruits and vegetables, flowers and cornstalks, in anticipation of Harvest Festival Sunday.
I have no photo to post, because there is no longer a need to bake the loaves, but I will share the recipe, handwritten in my Mum’s book, and hope that you will try it during this Season.
  • 1 Tbsp.Yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ cup Water
  • ½ cup Milk
  • 4 Eggs
  • 6 cups Flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. Salt
  • ¼ cup Oil
Place oil,sugar and salt in a large bowl. Heat milk and ½ cup water until scalding. Pour over oil etc. and let cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile combine yeast, with a dash of sugar in ¼ cup warm water, let yeast dissolve.Stir yeast into cooled liquids. Sift in enough flour to make a thick batter. Cover and let rise until bubbly. Beat down and add 1 cup flour,then beat in 3 eggs, one at a time. Separate the 4th egg, adding the white only. Set yolk aside, mixed with 1Tbsp cold water.
Sift remaining flour into dough until it can be kneaded. Knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl,cover and let rise until doubled. Punch down and divide into 4 equal pieces. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Plait 3 of the pieces into a think braid, making sure to tuck the ends in neatly. Place on baking sheet. Divide the 4th piece of dough into 3 and plait into a small braid. Brush the large braid with the egg yolk mixture and lay the small one atop the larger one. Brush the loaf all over with the egg yolk and leave to rise until double in size. Bake at 350F. for 20 mins. then lower the oven to 325F and bake 15 mins. longer.
And because it seems most fitting, here is a beautiful Mennonite verse on the subject of bread.  Along time ago I copied it in calligraphy tohang in our kitchen as a constant reminder.
“ Be gentle when you touch bread.        
   Let it not lie forgottn, unwanted,
 so often bread is taken for granted.
There is so much beauty in bread,
           beauty of sun and soil,
           beauty of patient toil.
Winds and rain have caressed it,
      Christ often blessed it,
Be gentle when you touch bread.”
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