~ The Rev. Dcn. Scott Brown, OPI

What’s that noise? Huh? Oh, that’s my alarm. It’s time to get up and start this day. I roll over and press the snooze button. Nine more minutes. I just get back to sleep and then that horrible noise starts again. OK OK Ill get up and get this day started. Its going to be a very busy day; a holiday; the one holiday every year that I look forward to with just a hint of dread and disdain. Thanksgiving: that wonderful family holiday where we eat delicious foods, catch up with family, listen to Uncle Bob’s horrible jokes and regret eating too many desserts. I head down to the kitchen while still trying to get my senses about me and anticipating that first cup of coffee. Looking over the day’s headlines on the local newspaper’s website, it seems that every time I scroll a little bit, there is another ad for a department store Black Friday Sale, TVs on sale, winter clothing on sale, cars and trucks on sale; anything you could imagine, desire, or ever want, could be had tomorrow for up to 70% off. Wow, I guess I will be staying home tomorrow and ordering Christmas gifts from Amazon and other online retailers because I have no desire to deal with the mayhem and carnage that is Black Friday.

Second cup of coffee and its time to start getting ready for the day’s adventures. I start getting ingredients our of the fridge and pantry to make the gastronomic delights that I am known for at these family gatherings. An apple pie, a pumpkin cheesecake, green bean casserole, and cranberry salad. My sister usually makes the deviled eggs, ambrosia, and a pumpkin roll, and my brother usually brings the macaroni salad and something that nobody can identify but it has whipped cream on top and is made of chocolate. Mom bakes the ham and the dinner rolls, and dad makes the mashed potatoes. I have about 4 hours to get everything done before my husband, the kids, and I head out on the 2-hour journey to mom and dad’s house halfway across the state. We need to leave by 10 am, 10:30 at the latest if we are going to get there by noonish.

As I am busy cooking and cleaning up as I go, my husband peeks his head around the corner and wishes me a good morning. He thanks me for letting him sleep in and asks me if I need any help. I tell him good morning, blow him a kiss, and tell him to go to the living room and I will bring him a cup of coffee and some toast. Things are progressing well in the kitchen and I am super pleased that I had picked up everything I needed at the store on Monday; I wasn’t running out of any ingredients, and it looked like all of my gastronomic delights are going to turn out beautifully.

Everything was finished, everything was packed in boxes for the journey to the parents’ house. I let the kids sleep until just about a half hour before it was time to leave. I woke them, got them a light breakfast, gathered up their stuff (things to keep them occupied on the trip to and from), loaded the car and we are right on time. As we drive out of our development I notice that many of the houses have more cars parked in front of them than usual, and some of the front yards have children playing in them where there usually are none. As we leave our town and get on the freeway, I notice the amount of traffic is much heavier than normal and traffic began to slow. A few minutes later we are moving so slowly that the speedometer isn’t even registering our speed. Soon we pass the cause of the slow traffic; it was a car wreck involving a tractor trailer and a car. My husband and I look at each other and I said how I hoped everyone were OK and we went on our way over the hills and through the woods. The remainder of the journey was without incident.

We arrived at my parents’ house just a few minutes after noon and were the first ones there. I immediately went to the kitchen with all the goodies I had created and began helping Mom with various kitchen things while my husband settled down in the living room with my dad in front of the television. The kids were on the couch with their cell phones and video games going full blast. Siblings and spouses began to arrive, and greetings were exchanged, and everyone just settled into their normal routines for these family gatherings. All the women in the kitchen fussing and flittering around the table making sure everything is as close to perfect as possible, all the men in the living room glued to the television watching the big game and arguing with each other who has the best quarterback and which team needs a better coach. Our kids and the nieces and nephews are all scattered around the house, some in the living room, some in the kitchen, and some have found quiet places to be alone in other rooms away from everyone so they could surf Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or whatever new app they used to socialize in relative peace.

The kitchen staff made the decision that it was time to get this affair started so we sounded the dinner bell and gathered everyone in the kitchen and dining room. The table was beautiful, the smells were amazing. We bowed our heads, and my father gave the blessing of the meal. He thanked the Lord for the bountiful meal before us and asked for His blessing on each one of the family members. Amen.

We ate, chatted, laughed, and reminisced about Thanksgivings past. Afterwards the men folk returned to the living room, kids back to where they had come from and the women folk cleaned up the mess and set the desserts out. Conversations resumed in the kitchen and arguments about football resumed in the living room.

 As the afternoon went on and early evening set in, family began heading home with little care packages of turkey, dressing, ham, desserts, and side dishes. Our two-hour drive began around 5:00 o’clock pm, which would put us home around 7:00 p.m. if traffic cooperated. Before we got back on the freeway we stopped for gas. At the gas station I was just looking around and out of the corner of my eye I spotted a young man sitting on the curb just staring down at the ground. Behind him was a backpack that was bulging and looked like it was about to burst. It probably contained everything he owned. Was this young man homeless? Had he been rejected by his family? Where was he from? Was he local? Was he passing through? Was he hungry? Did he even have family?

Right then I realized how lucky I am, how lucky my family is, and how blessed we are. We have everything we have simply because of God’s love for us.  But did we show our gratitude and thanks to The Lord today? No. We totally missed every opportunity. Each one of us could have said Thank You Lord for the roof over our heads, Thank You Lord for the food on our table, Thank You Lord for the family gathered around us today, Thank You Lord for keeping us safe in our travels today. We could even thank The Lord for the amazing technology that keeps us connected to each other. Did we? No, again we failed to realize that we are blessed daily.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life we get so caught up in life that we forget to take a few seconds to look around us and see all The Lord has provided for us. We have a home, food, clothing, friends, education, family, and most of all we have love. Love of our Lord and Savior. With all He has provided for us isn’t it only fitting that we should have taken time from our busy Thanksgiving meal to thank Him for all he has provided. How selfish of us to just keep taking and taking and taking and never giving Him thanks. So, this Thanksgiving Day take just a few moments and give thanks for all He has done for you.

The act of Thanksgiving isn’t only thanking The Lord for all we have, it can also be the act of giving back. We could have stopped at the accident scene this morning and offered prayers or assistance to the injured. We could have offered our take home goodies to the young man at the gas station. We passed by two nursing homes on the way to the parents’ house. We could have stopped and offered a few minutes of our time to someone who has no family and won’t be visited today. The Lord has blessed us with so much and there are so many with so little, shouldn’t we share our blessing with those who are less blessed than us? First Corinthians Chapter 1 tells us to give thanks to God, for he has enriched us in many ways. Most of all we should give thanks for God for giving us His only son to die for us and take away our sins. God has bestowed His grace upon us, the least we can do is give him thanks.   In the words of St. Paul:

Brothers and sisters:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always on your account
for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,
that in him you were enriched in every way,
with all discourse and all knowledge,
as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you,
so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift
as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He will keep you firm to the end,
irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful,
and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, thank you for all you have given us and allowed us to have and experience in this beautiful world of Yours. We ask that you continue to bless us with your grace and as we continue to do your bidding, we ask that you show us your mercy in our lives.   Amen.

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