Thanksgiving Day 1901


Hazel McPherson pulled her long coat up tightly around her neck and stepped out the front door of her dress shop.  The familiar tinkle of bells on the door rang as she shut it behind her.

It was unusually cold in Chicago this November, but she loved it.  Matter of fact, Hazel loved everything about the city this time of year.  The sights, sounds, and smells of the city were still exciting to her even though she had moved in from her parents’ farm over a year ago.

The flickering gas lights that lined the street in front of her shop made the city seem like a fairyland, especially when it snowed.  There was the sound of shoppers hustling by on their way home; and the clop of the horses pulling trolleys filled with all sorts of folks going and coming.

“This is a wonderful place to be,” she thought, as she stood enjoying the moment.  “It looks like it’s going to snow,” she mumbled, smiling.  It always reminded her of home and all those cold snowy winters she had spent on the farm, dreaming about the day she would move to Chicago and open up her own dress shop.  Now she was here and she could still hardly believe that it was real.

Hazel had always been a dreamer.  When the other girls her own age were figuring out which one of the local farm boys would be their husband, Hazel was designing dresses and studying the business of retail management.

A slight wind caught the corner of Hazel’s hat that she had tied securely under her chin, just as the first snowflakes began.  Suddenly she gathered herself together and began moving down the street.

“I had better hurry,” she thought, as the snowflakes began to increase. “Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and if I’m going to catch the train to the farm on time, I’d better hurry.”

The rhythmic clack of the train wheels, along with the swaying coach, had almost put Hazel to sleep.  Staring out of the window into the dark November night, she could imagine the familiar Illinois farmland as it rolled by.  Each farm represented a dream and a promise—a  dream of a better future.  A future of security and peace where each man and woman could enjoy the good fruit of the world that God had made for them.  A promise that if each generation would do its part to truly give themselves to the dream, the rewards and blessings would be perpetual, going on and on, generation after generation.

“After all,” she thought, as the lights of another small country depot faded behind her.  “This is the ‘Land of Lincoln’, one of our great Presidents, who less than 40 years ago gave his life for his dream.”

The young woman scowled as she briefly tried to imagine those dark days of the Civil War.  She thought of the great miracle that God did through Abraham Lincoln to save this great Union and free the slaves.  “How thankful they must have been when that horrible war was over,” she said as she looked at her own reflection in the dark window.

The clack of the wheels were soothing as Hazel leaned back against her seat and closed her eyes.  She hadn’t realized just how tired she had been, and how glad she would be to see Mom and Dad again.

“What a year this had been already,” she thought as her mind traveled back to January 1901.  “Ten months had already passed in the first year of a brand new century.  Just think, the 20th century!”

Some of her mother’s friends at the little country church at “Four Corners” had predicted that the end of the world would come, and Jesus would return.  She wasn’t sure if that was true or not; but just to be safe, she had confessed all of her sins each night for the first four months.  She was thankful that she “knew” Jesus and loved Him.  But as Mother always said, “Better safe than sorry”.

To think about it was more than her young mind could comprehend—the 20th century stretching out ahead of her.  She wondered how much of it she would see before she went home to be with the Lord.  She knew that her grandchildren would see it; that is, if she ever gets married.

“But how could life as we know it get any better than it already is,” her brother, Ned, had argued the last time she was home.  “We have airplanes that lift a man off the earth so that he soars like a bird.  We have horseless carriages that speed people along the road at a terrifying eight miles an hour.  With a flick of a switch on the wall, an entire room suddenly becomes illuminated.  And now we can hear one another talk over a wire that goes from town to town.”

“Yes sir,” he said.  “It’s amazing, just down right amazing! Why, the other day a man at the government patent office declared that as far as he was concerned the patent office might as well shut its doors; because all the inventions that were ever going to be thought of have already been thought of!”

Hazel thought that was a silly statement; but she had to agree that with so many marvelous things were all around them, how could life get any better.

Hazel McPherson was thankful.  She smiled to herself, thinking about tomorrow.  Thanksgiving Day, 1901—WOW!  Then she began to weep happy tears when she realized just how thankful she really was.

“Thank You, Jesus, for Your love,” she whispered. “’Thank You for dying on the cross and forgiving me of my sins.  Thank You for Your grace and mercy when I fail to please You in my daily life.”

The tears continued to flow as she remembered Mother and Dad.  “Thank You, Lord, for a good home that loved me; and showed Your love and taught me about You.  Thank You for my dream that has come true—my own dress shop.  And thank You for this great nation that You have given us, to love You and raise our children in.  A nation where we can live in peace with our neighbors and enjoy the good fruit of our own field.”

Then she remembered the Psalm that she read this morning. “Those that love and obey the Lord will revel in a good land and eat the fruit thereof.” (Ps. 128 ?)

Suddenly the shrill whistle of the train she was on reminded her that Four Corners was just ahead.  Gathering the sacks and gifts that she had brought for her folks, she began to make her way toward the exit.

“Four Corners, next stop,” the porter shouted.  “Who’s getting off at Four Corners?”

“I am,” Hazel answered, struggling toward him.  “Would you mind helping me with these packages?”

“Certainly, Ma’am,” he replied.  Then, looking at his watch he said, “And by the way, it’s midnight.  Happy Thanksgiving, 1901.”

Remember, the days ahead are in the hands of the Lord.  What good things could happen!!!


George Watkins, Apostle



(In the continuing tradition that Jesus began, these are stories and parables that bring to life God’s truth and principles for daily living.  Some are from life experiences that God has taught me along the journey that I have had with Him.)

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