It’s the beginning of the holiday season. This Thursday, families will gather and enjoy Thanksgiving with a feast of delicious food and way too many calories. For many, it will be the first time in months that they have spent time together. There will be laughter and story-telling. A meal that took hours to prepare will be devoured within minutes. Once the kitchen is cleaned, many family members will be found napping in front of a television where they are supposedly “watching” a ballgame. Does this sound familiar?
What is your favorite Thanksgiving food? I don’t really have just one. I love turkey year around but there is something about the mixture of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole and cranberries that transport me back to my childhood and the memories of our family sitting around the table. My mom would be exhausted (she wouldn’t allow anyone the kitchen while she was cooking.) I always was given the task of setting the table and washing the dishes afterwards. When it was time for dessert, I remember always having a difficult time choosing the piece of pie I was going to eat. I loved the pumpkin with the whipped cream but my mom baked an apple pie that was so delicious that it would have won first place in any contest. In fact, since her death in 2004, I haven’t had an apple pie that compared to hers.
I love the holidays. I love the music, the decorations, and the eyes of the children as they walk down a toy aisle or visit with Santa. I love the smell of the house after a day of baking cookies. I love how happy everyone seems. Every year I comment that it would be nice if people could be that happy every day of the year.
“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our Thanksgiving.” W.T. Purkiser
What about the families who cannot afford to purchase food for Thanksgiving dinner? Or those who don’t have families? Have you ever thought about those spending Thanksgiving day alone? I spoke to a longtime friend this week and when I asked him what he was doing for Thanksgiving, he said, “making a bologna and cheese sandwich and spending the day alone.” He has plenty of money and could afford to cook a dinner, but he is divorced and chooses to eat a sandwich instead. My heart was sad that I couldn’t invite him to our celebration.
I’m not naive. I sit on the board of a nonprofit who feeds the less fortunate in Indianapolis. I’ve sat and listened to stories about lack of food, money and family. I’ve listened as they’ve shared stories about how they ended up living on the streets and realize just how blessed I am. I’ve served Thanksgiving dinners and watched as they looked at the plate set down before them and seem to be remembering happier times in their lives.
“The thankful received bears a plentiful harvest.” William Blake
I remember one year when our children were young. I cooked our Thanksgiving dinner on the Saturday after Thanksgiving because we spent the holiday together with my parents at my brothers. My husband came in from work and he brought with him a family that was stranded because their car was broken down. We set four extra places and enjoyed getting to know this couple and their children as we shared dinner with them. Afterward dinner my husband took them to the hotel where they had reservations. A few days later, a beautiful thank you note came in the mail and it was a great opportunity to teach our children about giving back and helping others.
My challenge to you this week is as follows:
Before the first bite of mashed potatoes is eaten, go around the table and share a memory or your biggest blessing. Or, skip dinner and volunteer to serve at one of the community dinners. Your heart will never be the same.
Have a truly blessed Thanksgiving!