“What have you got to be Thankful for?” That was the simple question that the hostess asked her guests as they gathered around her table at around 3:00 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of November several years ago.
One of the kids, just to her left, answered first, “My mom and dad; and that my cold went away so we could come today.”
Another kid called out, “Pumpkin pie!” and got the general laugh that he was looking for.
Then it happened, one of the elders at the table, who had just added a tough year to an already tough life said “Oh for Pete’s sake! Can’t we just eat our food and call it good?” A deep silence descended on that table and the clinking of forks and knives on the good china seemed to crescendo as people were left to contemplate what had occurred.
The hostess was upset. She had been planning that little moment for weeks. It was what had kept her going through all the shopping and stuffing and basting, and after a couple of comments from the kids, all she now had to look forward to was some congealed turkey grease and a massive load of dishes.
A middle aged Uncle felt the tension but was frankly glad the ball had been dropped before it was his turn to carry it. It wasn’t that he didn’t have anything to be thankful for, he just didn’t like being put in a position of having to say it.
A teenager rolled her eyes and thought “typical no body even wants to know what I was going to say, and besides, I’m not sure that green bean casserole even is food.”
And for each of them, as they passed the salt, and wondered what to say next, the terrifying possibility began to creep in that all this family togetherness was just a farce, a going through with of the motions; and all was nearly lost.
The only thing that REALLY matters to any of us is that know we are loved by others and that we can give that away as freely as we receive it: and that is something to be thankful for indeed!
Just then, there was a rustling sound on the hostess’ left and that little kid, recently recovered from a cold, was on his feet. He wrapped that elder up in a hug that was the stuff of legend and of course everyone else cried and laughed and clapped, and knew what we really had to be thankful for.
I don’t think a Thanksgiving has gone by since then that I haven’t thought of that scene that took place in my dining room all those years ago, and I hope that you think of it too now in those awkward moments where the “right thing” to say doesn’t seem to come easily, and may not even exist. We are created for community, the only thing that REALLY matters to any of us is that know we are loved by others and that we can give that away as freely as we receive it: and that is something to be thankful for indeed!