Last year I called a friend to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving. Little did I know her response would cause a response in my heart that I couldn’t shake.
I naively thought it would be a happy, quick conversation and we would both get back to our turkey, pumpkin pie, naps, and shuffling kids from one house to another.
She, however, didn’t have any of that. Thanksgiving was just another day. Actually, it wasn’t–it was a sad day.
She doesn’t have any family around. Her mom is gone, her dad is out of state, and her friends are busy with their own agendas. She wasn’t going to cook a big meal–she couldn’t afford it.
When we talked she kindly wished me a good day as well, but I could hear the verge of tears in her voice. She wanted our Thanksgiving Day to be hers, too. She wanted to shuffle her kids to grandparents’ houses and sit around the table sharing memories and making memories. She wanted to eat turkey and pumpkin pie. She wanted to take a nap on her mom’s couch and wake up to eat more turkey.
Instead, she carried on with her daily routine and November 22, 2012 looked just like November 21 and November 23.
I didn’t realize what this would do in my heart. I felt sorry for her. Deeply sorry that I had such a good Thanksgiving, family, opportunities–and she didn’t. I felt embarrassed that I would eat until I was stuffed and there are those who wouldn’t eat at all that day. I felt sad for her that she didn’t have the relationships that I have and the memories my kids were able to make with grandparents.
I thought on that for a while and tucked it away for the next year. I knew there was something God was stirring in my heart because He moved me to such compassion for those like my friend.
As we moved to Countryside and scratched some initial thoughts out for each month’s event, I remembered my feelings last Thanksgiving. I knew there was something we were supposed to do here that would make the day a little happier for most. Little did I know, God already set up the perfect scenario.
Last year our pastor (Patrick) spoke with the Brooklyn Springs Elementary school principal (Tonya) and both agreed to have a sit-down meal for our Countryside friends in 2013. Tonya said she could loan out the cafeteria at her school if we could make it work.
When we came along and were told that invitation was there, it was confirmation in my heart that God was setting up the perfect Thanksgiving meal for our new friends.
A lot of Countryside is in the same situation as my friend. They lack the family relationships and the finances to “participate” in our American version of Thanksgiving. Their day ends up being like any other, too. And that’s sad to me.
I know Brooklyn Springs cafeteria won’t have grandmaw’s couch to curl up on, but it will have benches to sit beside their neighbors.
Brooklyn Springs cafeteria won’t have a TV to watch the football game, but it will have a message and songs that give thanks to the One who gave up all for us.
Brooklyn Springs cafeteria won’t have Uncle Fred’s famous deviled eggs, but it will have green beans seasoned with love by the elderly ladies in the church congregation.
Brooklyn Springs cafeteria won’t have a hug from grandpaw when you walk in the door, but it will have a smile and handshake from someone who loves Jesus with their whole heart and wants to share that love with another by serving them.
On Wednesday, November 27th, 2013, at 6pm, buses and vans will leave Countryside Mobile Home Park and travel to Brooklyn Springs Elementary to have the ultimate Thanksgiving meal. Four hundred of our friends have already said they will be there with hungry bellies. Some of them will come with hungry hearts as well.
What a beautiful representation of the heavenly table this will be. Many from different backgrounds will sit side by side. Many with different skin colors, different pasts, and different languages will break bread together. This is what Heaven’s table will look like.
As we sit at the table, elbow to elbow with our neighbors–some of which we may not know, or may not even like, let us join together in a different kind of Thanksgiving meal. It doesn’t have to be at the Hinson family table where we give Thanks. It can be at the cafeteria table where we give Thanks.
Thanks be to God for this opportunity to sit beside my neighbors this Thanksgiving!