By Marsha M. Brown
This time of year is special for families all over America and the whole world for that matter. It’s a time of planning, shopping, prepping, cooking and eating a meal that’s hearty and satisfying to not just the belly but to the soul too.
Our family tradition is to sit at the table together and once all is said and done, we hold hands, bow our heads and ask the Lord’s blessing. Once we open our eyes again, we gaze at each other, so happy to look upon the faces of those we love so much all around the table and together again.
There before us are gems, golden brown turkey and dressing, a spiral ham, collards, mashed potatoes and gravy, angel eggs, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, sweet potato biscuits. In the background on the kitchen counter an array of tasty pumpkin and apple pies that sit and wait their turn to be gobbled up…the setting tantalizes the taste buds and we can hardly wait.
Then we start passing the food around to be sure everyone has a chance to fill their plate, the biscuits are buttered, and the gravy is poured into a little well in the middle of the mashed potatoes. It’s Thanksgiving and the sights, sounds and aroma is undeniable.
The sweetened and unsweetened iced tea is poured into sparkling glasses filled with crystal clear ice…its almost time. Everyone gets ready thinking in advance of what they’ll say; how they’ll express themselves, if they will accidentally say the same thing as last year when it’s their turn to express their thankfulness to each other and to God.
One by one everyone recounts the things that have happened through the year that they are thankful for. The discussions relate to good health, work, and answers to prayer and for many things ranging from simple – to the extreme – to the extraordinary.
Family looks at each other, some a little embarrassed with flushed cheeks, some finding difficulty to express their feelings, some choked up and some who feel that their thankfulness is private and only spoken to God Himself.
The meal we all look forward to at this special time of year has taken hours and hours to prepare. In a matter of 45 minutes to an hour, the meal is consumed, everybody is filled to the brim, joking that they have to loosen their belt buckle. Some ask for a Tums or Alka Seltzer and pretty soon everyone migrates to the living room, den or screened porch or deck to chill out and relax. Pie? It’ll have to wait until later.
Everyone has had a nice time – laughing, teasing each other and telling family stories about the turkeys that they wished had gotten away…like the one that still had the bag of gizzards, livers and heart still in the pouch at the time it was fully cooked and carved for the platter…yes, it happened. The full bodied waffling of herbs and spices fill the air and are good but not as delicious as spending quality time together.
Then, someone makes their way to the TV and turns it on. The mood shifts. The program features an active duty service member standing by a tank. She is sending a verbal love letter to her husband and children far, far away. Next, is a gentlemen loaded down with military gear who tells his wife he loves her then he sends his love to his Mother and little brother.
They are not here sitting at their traditional family Thanksgiving Day table, they are far, far away. Far from home, far from hugs and hand holding under a crisp white table cloth. They are in a different world, with different people, some of whom they can trust but many of whom they can’t. They think about their own home in the U. S. and the aroma of turkey and dressing at their family table. They are far…very far away.
While we sit in a safe warm home, they sit, stand or ride keeping others safe on this very special day. We think of them, we think of their families and their sacrifices…for us. We see a commercial on TV about a Wounded Warrior and we are again immersed in reality.
Someone’s son, daughter, husband or wife is away from home…far from where they long to be. They are fighting for good people; they are fighting to maintain peace, safety and life. They are our greatest blessing and as we see their face and hear their voice, we’re drawn back in together considering how much they have given for us.
Thanksgiving is for thankfulness. It is for love and kindness and peace. It is a time that we should never, ever take for granted. God bless the men and women who serve in our United States military today, yesterday and tomorrow.
In the coming weeks, hug a soldier’s family. Tell them how much their son or daughter mean to you. Tell them thank you for the empty chair at their table.
Until next time, be happy, be safe and be proud. And as always, stay tuned…