Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

December 4, 2016


Still thinking about Thanksgiving


I am still thinking about Thanksgiving. I know the danger of ignoring the calendar. I realize Thanksgiving Day is history now and that I should be writing about Christmas. But there is something I need to say about Thanksgiving before I move on.

As I was celebrating Thanksgiving for the 84th time, it dawned on me how easy it is to forget that this annual “Turkey Day” is not a “fun day” for a lot of people. And I felt a bit guilty that I had always described the day in glowing terms – a delightful time for families to enjoy a sumptuous meal together and give thanks for their blessings.

        The truth is, that has been the nature of Thanksgivings past for me and my family. As a child Thanksgiving meant sharing a meal with my mother’s parents.  She had twelve siblings so there was always a crowd that grew larger with each passing year.

After my grandparents passed on the site changed. My parents began hosting the meal each year for our growing family. This new tradition continued on for some 50 years. After my parents died, our son Steve and his wife Amy bought the old home place and resumed the practice of hosting a Thanksgiving Day meal. This year about 40 of us gathered at noon to share delicious food and eat too much.

My joy, however, was tempered by the news that the husband of a friend of mine died at a local hospital that morning. So it was not a day of thanksgiving for that family. Instead of laughing and sharing stories of old times, they were planning a funeral.

        I thought of others for whom Thanksgiving must have been a tough day. Like a friend whose husband died last August. It was her first Thanksgiving without him. For her family, if they were together for a meal, there would be an empty chair at the table.

My sobering thoughts about Thanksgiving continued. Some people must work all day. Some are sick. Some are estranged from family members. Some are homeless and if they are lucky they will be eating turkey in rescue mission. Still others are in bondage to grief over the death of a child or a spouse.

        I thought about many people who once sat at our Thanksgiving table and had passed on. I closed my eyes and saw the faces of my son, my mother and father, my sister Laurida, my sisters’ husbands, and many aunts and uncles.

While observing little children running around the tables, having fun, I prayed silently for friends who were struggling with grief as we eyed another piece of pumpkin pie. My heart ached for them.   

So what is the point I want to make? Just this: As we give thanks for our blessings, and enjoy good times together, we need to be mindful of the pain and loneliness that others are experiencing. One good way to give thanks may be to offer compassion and understanding to the hurting people who are all around us – and not just on Thanksgiving Day.  + + +