By Debra Whittington
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be than thankful unto him, and bless his name. Psalms 100:2,4
Thanksgiving Day is almost upon us once again with Christmas not far behind. Already the stores are featuring ad campaigns designated to get people to buy as much as they can before it is too late.
There seems to be too much emphasis on “getting” when we should take a look at what we already have. Instead of focusing on material items, I want to focus on people this Thanksgiving day.
As I started planning this year’s Thanksgiving, I took a stroll down memory lane and some of the most memorable Thanksgiving Days of my life. I remember the years as a small child when all of the family gathered around the table. It began with preparing the meal. Mom always let me sample the dishes. My favorite was eating the raw stuffing before it was cooked. That was in the days before we knew it wasn’t safe to eat anything with raw eggs in it.
I remember all of the family members who sat around the table usually at Grandma’s house. They included grandparents and aunts and uncles as well as my parents and brother. How blessed I am to have those memories, especially since almost all of them are now in heaven.
Once I was grown and married, I had even more family members to celebrate Thanksgiving with. In the early years of my marriage, Mark’s grandmother always cooked the turkey. Mark’s mom had her special dishes that everyone looked forward to eating. They too, are now in heaven but I am so blessed to have those special memories.
I remember one particular Thanksgiving spent with Granny, Alice, and other members of Mark’s family. Several of the aunts, uncles, and cousins came to Tucumcari to join the family members living here. Since Mark’s older brother ran a restaurant in town and so many family members and a couple of friends were coming, it was decided to have dinner there. With it being a holiday, the restaurant was closed and the family had plenty of room to eat and visit. Besides, there was even a dishwasher so the women wouldn’t be washing dishes all afternoon.
Everyone started arriving late in the morning and visited while the food was brought in and set up. After the blessing, everyone loaded up their plate and continued to visit in between bites. We looked up when one of the regular customers walked in the door. The elderly gentleman lived alone and was hoping the restaurant was open so he could get something to eat. We invited him in and told him to get a plate and help himself.
A few minutes later, an older woman came in and was followed by another gentleman. Soon, we had about ten extra people for our family Thanksgiving. Each one was so appreciative for the dinner because they were alone. When the first one prepared to leave, he pulled out his wallet and asked how much he owed. My brother-in-law told him and all the others it was our Thanksgiving gift to them.
In the years since that time, members of our family recall that Thanksgiving day and what a blessing it was to minister to those people who had no one to spend the day with. It was also a special year because it was the last time all of the extended family got together.
Thanksgiving has and always will be a special time for family even though many of them are now in heaven. Our family no longer gets together on Thanksgiving Day because they are with their children and their families in other towns. In recent years Mark and I spend Thanksgiving with our church family.
For approximately the last 15 years, First Baptist Church has served Thanksgiving dinner at the church. The dinner is free and is for anyone wishing to come. Some of the people who come have no one to share the day with. Others are families who choose to spend the day at the church ministering to others. It is always a wonderful time of fellowship.
If you don’t have any plans for Thanksgiving dinner, I want to issue a special invitation to come to First Baptist Church from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Everyone is welcome.