My mother, Earlene, believes in sharing and being kind to others. On Thanksgiving Day when I was growing up, my mom would drive to a nearby children’s home and pick up a few extra kids to bring to our home for dinner.
We were already a family of seven, and in my opinion, we didn’t need more people to grab the turkey drumstick. But she felt these fatherless and motherless children deserved a home for the holidays.
For Thanksgiving this year, my husband and I will hang out with friends. We rarely leave town to visit family because he is a pastor. We surround ourselves with people we are comfortable with, a common, yet limiting, trait of introverts.
What would happen if I stepped outside of my comfort zone and invited someone to my house for Thanksgiving? Maybe a person who couldn’t get home (to another country or a far-away state) to celebrate this season with her own family? I would feel awkward for a while. And then I would get to know someone new. I would grow. And improve my life. And “use the gift of this day.”
I recently viewed a TedxSF video “Happiness Revealed” that circulated on social media. With gorgeous photography as the background, an elderly man in the video says, “You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. …It’s a gift.… And the only appropriate response is gratefulness.”
Perhaps we could offer the gift of a day and ourselves to someone else this Thanksgiving. From a prayer in the old Lutheran Book of Worship we promised to “offer with joy and thanksgiving what [God has] first given us—ourselves, our time, our possessions, signs of [God’s] gracious love.”
How can we make good on those promises this holiday season? What would Earlene do?
This blog first ran in 2013. Terri Lackey is director for communication for Women of the ELCA.
Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography | CC