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1106 PD: Come Ye Thankful People, Come

Yevet Tenney Published on 10 November 2006

The other day I heard the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing the traditional Thanksgiving song “Come Ye Thankful People Come.” Tears of gratitude filled my eyes as I thought of the glorious harvest we have gleaned this year.

Everywhere you turned, apple tree branches sagged to the ground with delicious red or golden apples. Peach tree limbs had to be propped up with 2-by-4 boards to keep them from breaking. The ripe scarlet tomatoes, emerald cucumbers and purple beets have been plentiful. Pumpkins hid their orange beauty under huge leaves of green, and the yellow corn under tufts of silk was the sweetest ever.

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Now the harvest is safely gathered in the jars of peaches, green beans, corn and applesauce that line the shelves of my pantry. It wasn’t all my effort. It was a huge family-do-it-yourself canning project at my parent’s house. My parents, Jay and Charlotte Crandell, have a canning house where they put eight to 10 cookers or boil pots on the stove at a time. Everyone pitches in to cut the vegetables and fruit and fill the jars. We talk, we laugh and we work. When my parents were alone, the canning project went on and on. Since the beginning of the harvest, they have put away close to 1,500 quarts of vegetables and fruit. What a harvest!

Why did they can so much produce? They would never be able to use that much food in a year. Why didn’t they just let the fruit and vegetables sit on the vine or let someone else harvest it? The philosophy I grew up with would not allow that. “God has given us a harvest, and it is our responsibility to use it wisely. We may not have such a great harvest next year.”

Jay and Charlotte are generous beyond measure. The bottles of fruit and vegetables don’t sit on the shelf. They share them with members of the family who couldn’t come to help, as well as neighbors who are in need. They never ask for anything in return. “Just bring the bottles back so we can do it again next year,” they say. With all that work, you would think that my parents are spring chickens. Mom just turned 80 and Dad is 84!

Reg, my husband’s mom, Jocie Tenney, comes from the same philosophy as my parents. Her generosity is unbounded. Every time for the last 18 years that I have gone to visit her, I have left her house with something she has shared with me. This time it was boxes and boxes of apples and pears. She gathered them up herself and helped when the kids picked them from the trees.

She has made vinegar and apple juice by the gallon and canned applesauce and made fruit leather, and she crochets and knits wonderful scarves, sweaters and rugs. She seldom keeps any of her handiwork to herself. She gives it away to grandchildren and friends. What a woman! Most people stop when they go on oxygen. Not Jocie! She just tucks the oxygen tank under her arm and keeps on going. I often think of her as the Energizer Bunny.

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Once I was talking to Lou Ann, a friend of mine, who said, “I was visiting with a woman who had a rug loom to sell. She said, “Mom is 60 now, and she was just too old to do anything like that anymore.” Lou Ann smiled and said, “I know someone who would like that loom.” “Who?” asked the lady.

“Jocie Tenney!”

Jocie bought the loom and learned to use it. She wasn’t too old at 88. Jocie is living proof that age is a thing of the mind, and generosity is born in the heart of goodness.

Today it is raining, with the promise of winter soon at hand, and we have reason to sing praises to our God. As I bask in the golden glory of an autumn washed with rain, I wonder if God can take as much pleasure in His harvest as I have taken in mine. I know how he feels about Jocie, Jay and Charlotte. They bring forth fruit every day. Their lives are the very essence of charity and love.

At the funeral of my cousin, Albert Rogers, I heard the rendition of “How Great Thou Art” by two of his daughters. The notes rang in wondrous tribute to God and His great sacrifice for us, but it also spoke to a soul who had emulated the life of the Savior. Albert was that soul.

I always thought Albert treated me special because I was his cousin, but at the funeral as his life sketch was given, I realized he made everyone feel like royalty. Every time he saw me he had a smile and an uplifting word. He told jokes and made me laugh, even when I was weighed down by the world. His service was unending. He saw a need and filled it.

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When Reg and I moved from Wickenburg to Taylor, Arizona, we moved in the summertime. We planned to have the walls built and the roof on the house before winter came. That didn’t happen; we were still living in a horse trailer and an overhead camper when the winter started to blow.

Albert got wind of our situation and he showed up with his fifth-wheel camper trailer and said, “Use it as long as you want.” What a blessing! That winter was the coldest and wettest winter in years, but we were dry thanks to Albert.

When we had to dig our septic system, Albert was there with his backhoe and generosity. The stories told by other people were just as astounding. Sometimes at funerals, speakers flatter the one who is in the casket, but not Albert. Words could not express the man’s heart of charity and his awesome acts of service.

I guess Albert came by his desire to serve others naturally. His mother, Aunt Etta Crandell, was the embodiment of charity. She was in her 80s when I met her. She lived in a tiny trailer house and was sharing it with a bedridden woman who depended on Etta for her every need. When I asked who the woman was, I was informed that she was a lady who needed a home. Etta cared for two more elderly ladies after that. One passed away.

When I went to Etta’s funeral, the whole room was filled with a reverant, sweet spirit. I knew she was headed to live with the Savior. She had, in life, been His true friend.

I sit here surrounded by God’s harvest in my garden, and He sits in celestial realms gathering His fruit from His garden. I can’t help but smile when I think of how proud He must be of those who have given so unselfishly to His kingdom. I don’t think any of those mentioned on this page would consider themselves out of the ordinary, but God does. They are His precious fruit. I think of my withered offerings and wonder if I will ever make it. The song rings in my heart. God’s harvest is coming. Will I be ready?

The blessed Thanksgiving anthem says it all. I learned two verses of it years ago in eighth grade. We sang it at a school Thanksgiving program for our parents. I have not forgotten the words, but as I listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing it, my heart was led to think of God’s harvest that will soon take place.

I hope that it will ring in every American heart this Thanksgiving. We are His harvest. Let the angels come and reap, and let us be the thankful people who answer the call.

Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide
For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come,
Raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field,
Fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown
Unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear,
Then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we
Wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come,
And shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day
All offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store
In His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come,
Bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified,
In Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all
Thine angels come,
Raise the glorious harvest home.
PD

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