Posted: Friday, November 27, 2009

The celebration of Thanksgiving means many different things to us Americans all across the United States. Despite the many differences that we have in our ways of celebrating, a few things remain the same for all of us. The first Thanksgiving celebration occurred in 1621 by the pilgrims, but later grew into a religious holiday where they went to church and thanked God for a specific event. At that celebration, they sang and danced and ate often times for three solid days.

I can think of very few times I have ever felt much like dancing after the Thanksgiving feast, and with my singing ability, that too was not an option unless of course I was using it to clear the house of guests! So for many of us, Thanksgiving is time to not only celebrate all that God has given us, it is also a time to be ever mindful of the needs of others.

As a child growing up in Wisconsin, our family's Thanksgiving celebration always included deer hunting, which was almost part of our heritage as the first pilgrims also included venison in their Thanksgiving meals. Venison and wild fowl were the two main meats on their tables.

Thanksgiving deer hunts in Wisconsin usually meant getting a group of hunters together, and making drives to chase the deer out of the woods or corn fields. As Thanksgiving occurred near the end of hunting season, and the deer were not moving very well at that point, groups would walk through the woods while other hunters waited at strategic points for the deer to appear.

Often times, it was before noon and the hunting was over in time for the men to return to their homes to watch the annual Thanksgiving Day football games, as the women were preparing the feast. (Quick, football fans: When was the first broadcast of NFL football game? It was in 1934 at the University of Detroit and it was between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears! That game sold 21,000 tickets and the Lions have been on Thanksgiving Day every year since. That is 75 years watching a football team play football that has only won 8 of its last 41 games. Maybe some of that Thanksgiving indigestion was not caused by the food!)

According to my figures (and sometimes my math skills are not much better than my singing) we have been celebrating Thanksgiving here in American for the past 388 years! Wow! That is like living and doing everything I have ever done in my entire life over again 7.1 times! Yes, we celebrate it in a lot of different ways but turkey is still the most popular meat found on our tables. The other most popular foods in order are; pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, dressing and potatoes.

The celebration of Thanksgiving in my opinion, should always involve being thankful for all that we have, and also using this celebration to share or do something for someone less fortunate than you. We have the whole year to do the things that we all enjoy, but really need to concentrate on doing something for other people on Thanksgiving Day, if we are truly thankful for all that God has given us.

Invite that lonely elderly couple, or that family who we all know is struggling to make ends meet, to your home this year. How long does it actually take to invite someone to your home by either going there in person, or dialing a ten second phone call? You can even have a little fun with this, or add a little humor to it. Perhaps your conversation could go like this. "Is this Fred?" "Yes it is." "Fred I have been struggling here with a little problem and was wondering if you could help me with it?" "Sure John what is it?" "Well you see I got this big ol' home raised turkey (You strategically pause here to give your victim time to think, "Oh no he wants me to butcher it!" before continuing,) out here in my freezer and I don't have enough people rounded up to help me eat it. I was wondering if you could help me out?"

Having a large crew over for Thanksgiving has always been a tradition for my family as long as I can remember. Have I always been as thoughtful and thankful as I should have been every Thanksgiving? Absolutely not! Have I always used this day to really think about the needs of others and what I could do to make their lives just a little easier or better? Again I have to say, absolutely not?

I can honestly tell you that on some Thanksgiving Day celebrations, my thoughts have been more about me and what I want to do than they have about the needs of someone less fortunate than me. You see, often times it was the football game I looked forward to more than anything that day, or the meal that was being prepared, or deer hunting, or fishing, or something really not important at all.

As many of you are celebrating Thanksgiving this year, something very special will happen in our home that has never happened before. We have had 2 foster boys living with us for almost four years now, and during that time I personally have had the chance to teach these two boys some hunting and fishing skills, football, basketball and a whole lot of other things. I guess to put it simply, I have tried to just be a dad to these boys, who have never had a dad that was involved with their lives before.

After raising 5 kids of our own over the past 29 years, I really wasn't in the market for more children. But then came that phone call on January 17th nearly four years ago. Alaska Child Placement needed an emergency home for two brothers who were going to have to be split up if they could not find a home for them. No, I was not a foster parent, nor had I even applied to be one at that point. But this was a crisis situation, so we took the boys in under an emergency foster parent license that was granted to us at that time, which brings us to now.

We received the news that a family in Ohio wanted to adopt the two boys and move them there. That would mean that once again, these two boys will have their lives uprooted and moved to a place thousands of miles away. Giving up their friends, their schools, and starting their lives over once again. It would require their readapting to new people once again, in a strange new home with the new parents that will have to adapt to them like we did when they first came to live with us here. It will mean going to a strange school and making new friends once again.

On Wednesday evening, November 25th these two boys who have been a part of our family, will each receive a letter from Alaska Child Services explaining the new adoption plans for them. In football, when something is done wrong or there is an infraction of some kind, the official throws a yellow flag onto the field. In my immediate family there are 7 of us, which means in most situations that means 7 equal votes on certain family matters. Recently, after one vote we had together, I counted seven yellow flags about how we would handle losing two key members of our home.

Sometimes in football, the play is often times called back if there is a penalty. If the defense intercepts the ball and runs it back to the end zone for a touchdown, the announcer often times says "It was intercepted and taken to the house."

So like a football play being called, all eyes will be on those two boys November 25th at the Perkovich home as they open up their letters that night. We have all grown extremely close through the past four years here. And I am sure there will be a few tears too. But the game will change from the original message, because it was intercepted by the whole Perkovich family and, as the sport's caster would call it "taken to the house" but in this case it's our house! You see, we will adopt the two boys and they will be with us here forever. They will not have to switch schools, or start their lives over again thousands of miles away from the home they know. We all have so much to be thankful for, and this year our blessings include the permanent addition of Colt and Harley.

Happy Thanksgiving & see you next week!

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