Season of Thanksgiving & Giving

Posted by on Nov 20, 2013 in Articles | 0 comments

We Thank Thee
By: Ralph Waldo Emerson

(Stanza 3)

For this new morning with its light,
Father, we thank Thee.
For rest and shelter of the night,
Father, we thank Thee
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

 

It shouldn’t be difficult to write about Thanksgiving.  I close my eyes and consider the holidays past.  I see our family gathered around the table, each member eating more than a normal human eats in a week, laughing at each others jokes, feeling the absence of those no longer with us.  I can feel the embraces as each one says “good-bye” and leaves for the next family gathering or the long drive home, boxes and bags of leftovers tucked under their arms.  I smile at the hours my husband and I share washing the dishes, missing our children while enjoying the quiet, the soft music playing in the background and that last bit of wine waiting to be shared before we fall exhausted into bed.  There is much to be thankful for.

 

I find myself struggling this year with my Thanksgiving post.  I don’t want to focus on the houseful of family and overabundance of food.  I don’t want to focus on the huge turkey or the 10 pounds of mashed potatoes or the sweet and spicy smells that mix into a tantalizing potpourri.  Instead, I’m remembering years long past, years in which I couldn’t host the Thanksgiving feast.  I’m remembering the days during that time when I could barely scrape up enough for my son and me to have a basic meal.  No turkey, stuffing or cranberry sauce could be found in my home.  Had it not been for the love and generosity of dear friends, we wouldn’t have had Thanksgiving dinner (not the turkey and stuffing kind, anyway).  We shared our day with precious friends who welcomed us into their family for the day and included us in the laughter and togetherness.  No, this year I’d rather be thankful for and remember the years without plenty.

 

Holidays get crazy in our house.  My husband and I have a blended family of four boys.  They are now grown.  One of them has a family of his own, expanding the size of our family.  My parents are guests on every holiday and often, my brother and his family are with us.  Until last year, my grandmother blessed our celebration as well.  We spend the first part of the day overwhelmed with the cooking, baking, table expanding (going from two people to 14 is a bit daunting), pulling extra chairs from every nook and cranny of the house and just trying breathe while getting ready for the stampede of people.  Once dinner is on the table, however, the activity goes from frantic to celebratory.  Dinner is blessed by either my mother or me then the eating begins.  That’s usually where the “Thanksgiving” part of the day ends.  My husband and I will share in the thankfulness of having our sons and my family present, but I feel like something is lacking.

 

I think what’s lacking is the “giving” part.  What’s lacking is the friend with no place to go, the family without enough to eat, the outcast with no sense of belonging.  What’s lacking is the thankfulness to God for His provisions, for the everyday things we take for granted.  What’s lacking is the realization that when God said “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48), He meant me.  Not the rich man living in the next town with servants to clean up after the guests leave and an overflowing bank account to cover the cost of extra food.  He meant me, the woman who had to do without and now has more than enough.  Me, the woman with a large, sometimes chaotic, family whose contagious laughter would no doubt make the stranger feel welcome.  Me, the woman who has experienced the mercy and blessing of a great and loving God, and knows what it means to be accepted despite her flaws and faults.

 

No, this year I don’t want to focus on the plenty I have.  Instead, I want to focus on the plenty I can share.  This year I want to focus on the “stranger” I can welcome to my feast.  This year as we gather around our Thanksgiving table, I want to be able to pray “For health and food, for love and friends, for everything Thy goodness sends, Father in heaven, we thank Thee,” and see those friends mingling with my family, laughing with us and taking pleasure in what Thanksgiving should truly be!

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