Janet Hommel Mangas: Going down the list for a happy Thanksgiving

I had a flashback in church during a sermon two Sundays ago.

For some reason I recalled after a verbal argument with my sister Debbie when we were grade school-age, Mom punished us both by sentencing me to write out on pen with paper the following statement 500 times: “I will NOT call my sister ‘dumb.’”

I think Debbie had to write out, “I will NOT call my sister ‘stupid.’”

Since we were grounded from playing kickball until these 500 legible sentences were turned in, as Mom had planned, we never called each other names again — glared maybe, but we never resorted to name-calling.

This memory popped into my head when Pastor Shan Caldwell, at the beginning of his Sunday morning church sermon, asked us to write down every living family member.

I began writing: Mom, Leta/Dave, Debbie/Wood, Kevin/Jamie, Jerri/Russ, David/Julie, Chris/Amanda… Kids: Alex, Chloe/Michael, Phoebe/Jacob.

I hadn’t even put a dent in my list when he kept on preaching on the topic of family.

Families are deeply committed to one another — a deep commitment to stay together, he said.

Families make time together a priority.

Families honor and show appreciation for each other — Honor your mother and father.

Pastor Shan suggested that we write thanksgiving notes to all of our nieces and nephews. So I started listing my nieces and nephews: Grace, Madi/Justin, Stephanie/Brandon, Emily/Joe, Jennifer/John, Nick/Farrah, Chylsea, Emery, Faith, Reese, Nev, Raegan, Eli, Isaac, Drew…

I was getting behind so I wrote myself a note: “Add the grand-nieces and grand-nephews later!”

I continued to list family members: Uncles Steve, Joe, Mike, Tim, Aunt Sandy/Floyd, Aunt Joan, Aunt Janet/John, Cousins Donna/Tom, Cathy, Brenda, Lori, Josh, Jennifer, April, little Sandy, Marc, Brian, ….. (note: list all 35 later!)

Shan pressed on to his last three points on family:

Families look out for one another (Philippians 2:3-4)

Families resolve conflict in a quick and swift manner.

Families are always to focus on Jesus above all else.

I may not have completed writing out my entire list of family members, but the sermon did indeed prepare my heart for an overwhelmingly happy Thanksgiving.

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Ryan Trares is a senior reporter and columnist at the Daily Journal. He has long reported on the opioids epidemic in Johnson County, health care, nonprofits, social services and veteran affairs. When he is not writing about arts, entertainment and lifestyle, he can be found running, exploring Indiana‚Äôs craft breweries and enjoying live music. He can be reached at [email protected] or 317-736-2727. Follow him on Twitter: @rtrares