A Thanksgiving Story: Our First Stop

As Jake, the kids, and I loaded up in our mini van, I began to daydream about the cranberry sauce, gravy, deviled eggs, and my mom’s amazing pecan pie. The chill of the first freeze was penetrating my bones and I had to turn on the seat warmer to calm the chill. I began to reflect on Thanksgivings passed, and the way my family always pokes fun at each other for our crazy dishes and the green bean casserole that never seems to turn out right no matter who bakes it. My memories became interrupted by what seemed like 100’s of “Are we there yet?”, Where are we going?”, “Who will be there?”, and “I’m hungry”. The needle on our gas gage was teetering on E as my husband struggled to find a gas station off of HWY 70 that wasn’t packed with cars. We pulled into the last gas station in town, and it was closed, so we had to turn around and go back to get gas from one of the stations that we just had passed. In the midst of the kids yelling, and the gas pump hunt, my mom and sister called 15 minutes apart asking where we were at so they could all start. I became irritated because they all got there early, again, just like every year, then began calling us because we were “late”. This year, however, due to the gas pump search, we pulled into my Nana and Papa’s drive at 1:20, twenty minutes late from the time we were told we would eat. Jake had me take a deep breath and prepare myself for the late comments. I steadied the Chocolate meringue pie in my hand and headed into the house.

It was filed with laughter and the smell of my favorite foods. My mom was hugging the kids and got up to help me serve the kids their food. My Papa greeted me with a hug, and my little sister greeted me with the usual pinch on my hiney and I began to dig into the food. My senses were joyfully taking in the sights, smells, tastes, and the touches from my family. I got my face kissed by my Nana as I sat down to dig in. My little sister introduced me to a young boy who was her neighbor who had never experienced Thanksgiving before. His plate was piled high with dessert and after he finished his very first Thanksgiving feast, he began to chase my middle child, Kadence around the house. No too long after we were finished eating, my other little sister sent me a text message of the Thanksgiving meal she had prepared. She and her husband had a Thanksgiving meal with several of his friends this year. He is stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas, and the young men they hosted were close friends who were not able to come home for Thanksgiving. Even though I missed her dearly, I was proud of her for taking others in, and creating an atmosphere that made them feel like they were home, like they were family.

Our trip to my Nana and Papa’s made me reflect on our duty to love others as we love ourselves. My eyes were opened to simple acts of kindness that will ring throughout the years because of a simple act of love. My sister, Lainey, took in a child for a day and showered him with his first Thanksgiving meal. She took the time to invite him to become a part of us, and for that day, he was a part of our family. The look she gave me when she told me who he was and why she had him spoke volumes. I could see in her eyes as she explained the fact that he never experienced a Thanksgiving, that he was from a troubled home. My sister has had a very difficult year, and for her to put that fact on the back burner to show this little boy some love spoke volumes to me.

My other sister, Audrey, was demonstrating love for her neighbors as well. She slaved away in her small kitchen in Texas while wiping away homesick tears from her eyes as she prepared a meal for the soldiers that fought beside her husband because they were all missing home too. She took on a huge responsibility, one that she had never had before, and in her little 21 year old, 5 foot 3 inch body became a mother hen busy in the kitchen warming up hungry bellies.

The gospel of Matthew, chapter 25 verses 35-40, beautifully illustrates love for a neighbor as it explains the simple task of taking care of others immediate needs. It tells how we are to give food to the hungry, water for the thirsty, a home for the stranger, clothes for the naked, and so on. My sisters were living out this passage, and I believe just as it says in verse 40 that “Inasmuch as you did this to the least of these My brethren, you did it to me.” Whether they were aware of this fact or not, they were serving the Lord by serving those less fortunate, and in doing this, they were richly blessed.

I forgot this simple fact yesterday. I was too busy making sure the kids hair and clothes looked good and my hair was just perfect so I wouldn’t get made fun of. I was worried about my chocolate meringue pie and the weird brown colored sugar puddle that had settled on the meringue over night. I was preparing for my comeback to lash out if anyone made fun of me being late. I was humbled and overwhelmed with thankfulness when I heard of the little boy who had never experienced Thanksgiving. My heart was aching and bursting with happiness at the same time as my youngest sister sent me a picture of the meal that she had prepared for her “second family.” I pray that all of you were reminded of the “good stuff” as you were celebrating with your families, or perhaps your friends, and I pray that you all had an opportunity, great or small to serve one another in love.

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