Thanksgiving has come and gone. Another turkey, multiple family gatherings, dirty dishes and endless laughter have been turned into memories. Most of it was familiar, like the green bean casserole and pumpkin pie. Traditions. The things we look forward to. All of it anticipated as we approached this holiday of warmth and cheer around the table. Another year full of blessings would soon be coming to an end.
But for some people, it’s just another day, another season that brings want. A single mother is hurting because she’s not sure where the next meal for her children will come from. She’ll have to bury her pride and ask for help, again. A middle-aged woman recovering from a work-related injury, lives with her elderly mother and is struggling to keep up with the bills. She endures the pain in her legs to make a short trip out to the market for a few things to get by for one more day. One more day that the small change at the bottom of the purse is only enough for a portion, a meager lifeline to the next day, and then what?
Then what? Thanksgiving! Because Thanksgiving is about giving thanks.
Before the table overflowing with a feast; the meal that trumps all…we decided to give thanks by sharing groceries with families in a different neighborhood.
There’s a quaint, outdated Kroger at 16th and Central where the grocery carts barely fit through the aisles and the customers greet each other like old friends. We filled a cart with all the traditional items a family would need to make a decent Thanksgiving meal. In spite of not having a list, each order rang up to nearly the exact amount we had planned to spend! God is good to us, even in our foolishness.
It was an awkward time after that, standing at the front of the store looking lost, scanning the crowd for “just the right one.” They paid us no mind, each one on a mission in the last few hours before the holiday started. Soon a woman with four children walked in and we all smiled. Perfect! My husband stopped her and asked, “Excuse me, could we help you with your Thanksgiving meal?”
The scene repeated and the responses were varied. One asked, “Why would you do that?!” The middle-aged woman living with her 97 year-old mother lit up with “Thank you, Jesus!”
But not all were obviously grateful. So I told my teenage sons not to worry – no matter the responses, we were doing this to give thanks. And God was happy with it. In fact, others were happy with it too. Bystanders noticed and were moved, and they told us so – like the Salvation Army bell ringer standing outside while we loaded the groceries into people’s cars. So we blessed her too.
Our night of giving thanks almost didn’t happen. Bickering boys and lack of enthusiam had threatened to derail it. I wondered in those moments before we left home, if our blessings had become so numerous that we forgot to count them, took them for granted. But we pushed through it. We exchanged frustrations for obedience and God met us on the other side with an armful of more blessings, more thanksgiving. More reasons to give thanks.