You may or not have heard of The Kirkland's famous Pie Night. Well, here's the story:
Decades ago, when the kids were still young, Marie and Glen Kirkland had a tradition of making the pies the day before Thanksgiving, in preparation for the Thursday feast. Their four kids just could not stand waiting 24 hours to eat those beautiful pies, and since Marie would make one pie for each of the four kids there was always plenty to last through Thursday's festivities, so they started to eat the pies on the Wednesday night before each Thanksgiving.
Marie was an excellent baker and she loved her kids so much that she always made a pie of their choice specifically for them. When they grew and started their own families, the tradition continued and Marie would make a pie for every single person in her growing family to be eaten the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, now lovingly called, Pie Night.
Soon, we grandkids came along and there got to be too many pies for one woman to make, so we started sharing the load and many of the Kirkland clan began helping bake pies for their loved ones. Currently, there are 34 members and a potential 34 pies invited to the feast that is Pie Night, though we usually average around 23 pies.
So this year, Wednesday rolled around and after a day of baking, we all hauled our goodies over to Aunt Dale's house to feast. We always start with a honey baked ham sandwich. Some people choose to skip the bread or stick to half a sandwich to save room for pie. We've learned over the years that if you diet and eat small meals for the week before pie night, then your stomach will only hold a few slivers of pie. But if you train your stomach and stretch it for days ahead of time, it will be ready to store the maximum amount of pie choices.
It sounds just sinful doesn't it? I've been consciously trying to eat better lately and I have a friend to call whenever I'm faced with temptations. So on pie night and the days leading up to Thanksgiving, she texted me a Bible verse to make us feel better about the feasts we were about to partake in.
I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
Now this verse may very well be taken out of context. Solomon's goal in writing Ecclesiastes was to find the meaning of life. Every pleasure he pursued in this life ended up being meaningless. Here is his conclusion at the end of the book:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
I told my friend that our celebration that night would be a glimpse of Heaven on Earth. The Bible compares Heaven to a wedding feast (Matthew 22, Luke 14:15). In Isaiah 25:6-9 it says:
On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
This was a prophecy foretelling our future. When love wins, there will be no more tears or pain, no more death and sorrow. And there will be feasting!
Some scholars say our feasts and celebrations (which always include food) were just the best example of what Heaven will be like, there may not actually be food (see Romans 14:17 and Revelation 7:16). But Jesus eats his last supper with his disciples and tells them that He won't eat this again until they are in the kingdom of God (Luke 22:29). I'm going to go with Jesus' idea of Heaven including eating with our loved ones.
But you know what? Either way, our Thanksgiving celebrations are absolutely glimpses of Heaven on Earth. Pie Night isn't really about the pie. It's about family and friends and being together while we still have each other. It's about celebrating the countless things God has blessed us with. It's about being thankful.
This Pie Night, we caught up with old friends and family we haven't seen in far too long. We had a new face as well. Isaac read a book he had written about our special celebration. We ate ham and pie. And we laughed a lot.
When my family prayed at bedtime on that night, we all thanked God for pie. But in doing so, we weren't really thanking God for the abundance of dessert, we were thanking God for blessing us beyond what any of us could ever imagine and the abundance of love we experienced that night.