My Great Grandmother, Justina Loewen, sent me knitted mittens for my 1937 Christmas present, The mittens were held together with a knitted string. Since she lived a day’s journey away, Mom taught me the wonders of a ‘Thank You’ letter. Laboriously I wrote the required ‘thank you’ letter in my 8 year old handwriting.
But it didn’t touch the wonder that fills me today of having a great grandmother who cared enough to knit mittens for me, her great granddaughter.
What must she have thought as she knitted? Did she remember when her daughter, Anna, my grandmother, was small and needed mittens? Did she interrupt her usual chores to make those mittens, knitting by firelight?
Did she make mittens for all her great grandchildren? How did she choose the color of the yarn? Did she pray for me as she formed each stitch? Did she pray for my children who were fourteen years in the future? Did she pray for her family she had not seen yet, ‘those who come after’ (nach kommen)?
As I looked at the brown mitten that still survives (I lost one mitten because I didn’t like the string holding them together through my coat sleeves), and I wondered why she chose brown. Was it more durable? Then I see the yarn embroidery on the mitten, created by my Grandma Anna, helping her mother. I wonder when she learned to knit. Great Grandmother Loewen was born 30 August 1857, in Einlage, Neider, Chortitza, Russian and came to this country, as a young mother. She endured many hardships in her life.
I tried to learn to knit once, and managed a sweater with backward stitches, and the intricacies of mitten-making was not in my realm. I knew that it took time and effort. Mom, knowing Plautt Dietch, gave me a ‘thank you phrase” that great Grandmother Loewen could read – “Danke du”
Seventy three years later, I want to thank my Great-Grandma Loewen for more than knitting the mittens for me. There was love hiding in the warmth of the mittens, thoughtfulness and prayer nestled in the stitches. The mitten is a reminder of family love.
My thank you to Great-Grandmother Loewen was not adequate then. For she meant much to me. My Grandma’s Mom. Why did it take 73 years for me realize what a precious gift she gave me? I want to thank her for her love and faith in God and understand her heart.
While looking for thoughts on being thankful, I found this quote: On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence – by William Jennings Bryan.
The more I thought about this quote, the more I understand giving thanks. Thankfulness is understanding that we do not live alone and to ourselves. Although independence is considered an American virtue, the soul of man has not surrendered its virtue of needing family and community. And even more, we need faith and trust in God.
We need each other – and thankfulness. In the depths of want and need, we learn that in dependence the need to say ‘thank you’. Not only to each other, but to our Heavenly Father.
How odd that there are so many verses in the Bible that say ‘Give Thanks to the Lord’. Does this dependence also go to the One and Only who gave us life, yes, and knitted us together? In our spiritual arrogance, can we,…will we give thanks to our Lord?
I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High. Psalm 7:17
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1-3
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! II Corinthians 9:15
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17
This Thanksgiving Day is not just today, but every day to come – and I pray for nach kommen (those who come after), and for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Yes, Great Grandmother Loewen, I thank you.
How can I say thanks
For the things You have done for me,
Things so undeserved,
Yet You gave to prove Your love for me.
The voices of a million angels
Could not express my gratitude.
All that I am and ever hope to be,
I owe it all to Thee.