I know that I have mentioned before how much I love Thanksgiving. For me Thanksgiving was a special time with all kinds of special moments and rituals. For the most part, when I was growing up the day was spent at my grandfather's farm with the extended family.
In the morning of the special day there was the annual cousins' football game on the front lawn. There were seven cousins and the farm dog, Spot, that played for hours in the chilly morning air. When we had played enough and we were sufficiently cold, we would scurry into the living room where my grandfather had built a roaring fire in the fireplace and my Aunt Helen would have set out snacks.
When we were warm we would head back outside for more adventures as we roamed the farm to see what was new. There were always new kittens in the barn and the cows would always greet us with looks from their soulful eyes. The pigs could care less about us because we didn't bring them anything to eat, but they were fun to visit anyway. I was afraid of the chickens, but I would bravely follow everyone to see them. We would end the morning by walking the path toward the woods but someone would catch us and call us back because it would be time for lunch.
After the prayer we would enjoy the labors of my mom and her sisters as they had been cooking all morning. My favorite was my Aunt Johnsie's mashed potatoes. They were yummy even without the gravy.
My family was a linger-at-the-table kind of family. I learned family gossip and family history over pumpkin and pecan pie. Some of the stories were repeated year after year, but every year I learned something new about this family that I belonged to and loved so dearly.
My Thanksgivings were so warm and wonderful that I just assumed that everyone experienced that wonderful day as I did. When I was in the fifth grade I discovered that not everyone's family had Thanksgiving as my family did. That year as I went back to school the next week and talked to my friends about our family gathering I noticed that one friend was very quiet. Later she said to me that she wished that she could be with my family for Thanksgiving because all her family did was fight and it was not a happy day. That was the first time I realized that not everyone experienced Thanksgiving as a happy time.
If you have experienced Thanksgiving as I did growing up then you are indeed blessed. Be thankful and treasure those memories and moments. There are so many more who do not anticipate this holiday as one of joy.
This past week, as I have sat out in the gathering room at the Parish House, I have had the honor of sitting with folks who have come to Crosslines to receive our annual Thanksgiving meal package complete with turkey and all the fixings. Last year we gave out right at 500 Thanksgiving turkeys and fixings in 14 days.
This year, after four days we have already given out over 400 and we have seven more distribution days left. The people that I have talked with as they waited to be seen expressed thanks for this meal, but they also expressed fear and worry over what might happen in their lives.
On Nov. 1 all recipients of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) received a cut in their benefits. The cut of $36 for a family of four may not seem like very much, but for families whose benefits did not cover the whole month anyway, this cut is devastating. In the month of November, this cut means losing the amount of money for Thanksgiving dinner. Families have come to us in the past week that have never really needed our services before, but suddenly they do need the extra food. I am so glad that we are able to be there for them.
Not everyone has to have a Thanksgiving exactly like the ones I remember from growing up, but everyone deserves to have a day to celebrate with family, create warm and safe memories for their children, and give thanks for their blessings. As you think about and plan for your Thanksgiving remember that there are those all around us whose day will not be so happy and pleasant.
Be mindful in your celebrations of what God might be asking you to do to make someone else's day happy and pleasant. Be prayerful about our community and ask that God's love might settle upon those who do not have enough, or whose lives are in danger, or who feel lost or lonely and do not know where to turn.
To God alone be glory!
Prayerful Knitting Group meets Wednesdays at 2 p.m. at the Parish House.
Christmas Store Set-up, MondayTuesday, Dec. 23, National Guard Armory
Christmas Store Shopping, WednesdayFriday, Dec. 46, National Guard Armory
Fudge and Candy Sale, Friday, Dec. 6, 9 a.m.5 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, 9 a.m.1 p.m., Chapel Hill UMC.
Pancake Breakfast, Saturday, Dec. 7, 811 a.m., First UMC. Adults, $5; children under 12, $3
Spaghetti Dinner, Saturday, Dec. 7, 37 p.m., Nay Chapel UMC. Free-will offering supports preparation for church's 100th birthday celebration in June, 2015. Nay Chapel is 9 miles east of Buckhannon on Route 151. For more information, call 472-7669 or 472-5661.
Spaghetti Dinner, Friday, Dec. 13, 4:307 p.m., Chapel Hill UMC. Fundraiser for 2014 mission trip. Cost: $10 for age 8 and up, $5 for children under 8, or a half portion
Cookies and More Walk, Saturday, Dec. 14, First UMC. Beginning at 8:30 a.m., homemade cookies, candy, breads, craft items. Proceeds benefit mission projects of UM Women.
Lessons & Carols, Sunday, Dec. 8, Wesley Chapel, West Virginia Wesleyan College
Community Christmas Dinner preparation, Monday, Dec. 23, 9 a.m.4 p.m..; Tuesday, Dec. 24, till noon; and Wednesday, Dec. 25, beginning at 8 a.m., Chapel Hill UMC. Help is needed at all these times.
Community Christmas Dinner, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 11 a.m.2 p.m., Chapel Hill UMC. Delivery orders will be taken by phone at number TBA.