There’s a hypnotic melody that has been reverberating through my head for about four decades now. Every now and then I hear the tune in my head. The tune often brings up images of a delightful childhood.
Growing up in Florida, and living just several hours from Walt Disney World, I have vivid memories of visiting “the happiest place on earth.” One of my most vivid memories was watching the Electrical Parade on Main Street at Disney which is a nighttime parade featuring floats, performers, and thousands of lights all synchronized to music.
I remember me, my little sister, and my mom and dad standing on Main Street watching the performance and being overwhelmed with the glimmering lights and intoxicating music. As a child, it was one of the most amazing things that I had ever seen—or heard. The music had a rhythmic theme that somehow sank deep into my soul and left a permanent mark. It never left.
When we left Disney, somehow, the song stayed with me. As a young child, I would often remember the song and hum it cheerfully. As the decades rolled on and the visual images began to dissipate, that song stuck in my head. A memory of one of the highlights of my childhood.
One of the challenging things about memories is that, as time passes, they are not always as clear and perhaps not always accurate. That was my fear. I didn’t know if the song in my head was accurate or just a recreated or readjusted version of the original. I wondered if I had forgotten the tune. The problem with memory is that it tends to fade and be replaced with an alternate form of reality. If we’re not careful, we may forget the song, or worse, why we sing.
Like yours, my early memories of Thanksgiving include tracing my hand on a paper plate with a crayon, creating turkeys out of construction paper, and learning strange tales about the Pilgrims who celebrated a great feast after their first harvest in the New World. Thanksgiving was also a great chance for family to get together and celebrate.
There was always great food and plenty of it. I always wondered why we didn’t eat the green bean casserole with french fried onions more often.
Not much has changed over the years. Although the names and locations have changed, our family, like yours, gets together to celebrate. It’s a great time to remember how good we have it. On Thanksgiving, I generally overeat and am overcome by tryptophan and end up passing out on the couch.
However, I generally wake up later that evening, stumble into the kitchen and help myself to another piece of my wife’s notorious chocolate pecan pie with whip cream. I then stagger into the living room and slump into my favorite chair with a cup of coffee.
Life is good. Life is good because God is good.
There is a danger in forgetting the melody of thanksgiving. It’s a melody of praise and thanksgiving directed back to God for His kindness and generosity. After all, as the Bible says, it is God who “richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” (1 Tim 6:17). As the Great Maestro, He wrote the tune. The song is not just for our enjoyment, but is also for His adoration.
God wants us to remember where we came from, how we got here, and where we go from here. The danger with abundance is somehow thinking that we are responsible for it or that somehow, we obtained it with our own power. In Deuteronomy 8, God reminds His people, “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth” (Deut 8:17-18).
Many of us, as parents, have gotten into a verbal challenge with one of our teens who said, “Hey, it’s my room!” We, as adults, logically and lovingly remind them, “It may be your room—but your room happens to be in my house!” (Insert mic drop here).
The same is true with our lives. We live and operate in God’s house. He gives us strength to work and good health. We are to be a thankful people. He also blesses us so that we may bless others. My wife and I love to give because we know what it’s like to receive.
The year 1993 was a tough year for me and my family. I was a seminary student and we lived in New Orleans. I was a full-time student and worked a full-time job. Things were extremely busy, and our budget was tight. My wife was pregnant with our fourth child and, on doctor’s orders, was put on bed rest because of a troubled pregnancy. We knew it was going to be a tough Christmas and the presents would be few. We were okay with that.
About a week before Christmas, there was a knock on our door. Smiling strangers anxiously stood outside clutching overflowing boxes of food and wrapped presents. At first, we believed they were at the wrong house. They were not. Somehow, a church in the area had adopted us and they simply wanted to bless us at Christmas. And they did. There was laughter, tears, and there was music. They knew the tune.
On Christmas morning, the kids were overwhelmed with the wonderful treats. We told them God had provided. My wife and I were overwhelmed by God’s love and the generosity of His people. That’s the power of a song.
Not too long ago, I couldn’t take it. The song from the Electrical Parade was driving me crazy and I had to know if it was real or a fabricated memory. I’ve heard that you can find anything on Google, but I had my doubts about a memory that was more than four decades old.
Apparently, you really can find anything on Google. After a few clicks, I found a video of Disney’s Electrical Parade close to the era that I remembered. As the lights flashed and the music played, tears welled up in my eyes and I was instantly transported to Main Street at Disney. It was the same melody that I remembered. As I write this, the song is playing in my head and I am smiling.
There is also another song that is playing. It is the song of thanksgiving and adoration to the compassionate and loving creator of the universe who created the heavenly host, majestic mountains, and pecan pie with whipped cream. I am extremely thankful for His blessings. Most of all, I am thankful for the gift of His one and only Son, Jesus. May His wonderful melody reverberate in our minds and in our hearts all year long. If you don’t know the tune, open your heart and listen closely, you’ll hear the music.
Wayne Geiger is the Pastor of First Baptist Grain Valley, an Adjunct Associate Professor of Speech, and freelance writer.