Our plates were piled high with the traditional Thanksgiving fare; turkey, ham, two varieties of dressing, three salads, assorted vegetables and a table of beautiful, assorted desserts. We were six people from different areas of the large metropolitan city- different ages, backgrounds and certainly different paths in life, but one commonality-we were each alone for Thanksgiving.
For me, it was a time of reflection, but also of gratefulness. For years, I had been the cook; the hostess for family holiday meals. As the family grew smaller, our table often hosted friends whom found themselves alone on the holiday.
Now I was one of those sitting in solitary and appreciating the love and thoughtfulness which went into the food preparation. The owner of this bakery cared enough about those at an empty table to open her heart to others like me. I was saddened to learn she had prepared for twenty (whom had RSVP’ed), but only six of us fulfilled our commitment. God is always in the details. Because the dining room was not filled with the pledged guests, the hostess/bakery owner, along with her family joined the six of us in food and fellowship.
As we filled our plates, I recalled so vividly and humorously preparing my first Thanksgiving dinner for my then husband’s family. I set my alarm at 3 a.m. to place the turkey in the oven, not understanding turkeys don’t require a “work day” to roast. I had begun the baking, days prior with almost enough assorted desserts to feed our entire small, rural community.
I learned years prior that my God-given gift is the gift of hospitality, so I believed all the homemade rolls and bread must be accompanied with pats of “turkey” butter. Yes, I spent hours filling small turkey molds with softened butter, so that my Thanksgiving table would be not only laden with assorted traditional cuisine, but also the extra touches which say “I’m grateful you have joined us at our table this year.” As the years passed, the cooking and baking remained plentiful, but the butter was not always served in the shape of turkeys. I quickly learned the taste of the meal was not diminished with pats of butter.
The chairs became fewer and reality was that life had changed. Finding myself alone over ten years ago, I looked for creative ways to spend Thanksgiving. I’ve volunteered for the homeless, spent the holiday in WI with my brother and his family and offered to be the hostess for others like me. Having relocated to a new state last year, the opportunities to volunteer or help others in need is not as great as it was in Oklahoma.
Each of these factors now found me sitting at a table with a mom and her daughter, a grandfather and his grandson, another single lady and myself. With the bakery owner and her family, today we were a “family of thirteen.” I could once again bow my head in gratitude, praising and thanking God for allowing me to be a part of this group on this Thanksgiving. I Thess. 5:18 NIV “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”