In the United States we will pause to celebrate Thanksgiving this week around tables large and small. We will pause in our busy lives to reflect on what we are grateful for and share stories of other Thanksgiving celebrations and people and things dear to us. We will celebrate using various traditions that have become a part of our story and pass them on to the next generations to enjoy or expand.
There is something about gathering around a table with people and food that invites fellowship we seem to seldom experience elsewhere. The tastes of the food mixed with the flavors of the conversation bring an atmosphere of connection that warms our hearts more than the glowing candles on the table.
Who will be at your table?
My parents have not been at our table for 23 years now, but many of the traditions they started will be present in the homes of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. My mother’s cranberry salad, dressing recipe, and pie assortment will be centerpieces of the meal we share. My father’s telling of stories will now fall to the new senior generation at the table.
But I recall very well the first Thanksgiving when they were not at the table. We had always celebrated this holiday in their home and beyond the food there were many traditions we loved as well. They started with my husband sharpening my mother’s knives, but there were other things like shooting clay pigeons, playing a game from an old TV show called “Name That Tune,” and making taffy and having a taffy pull.
That first Thanksgiving was very hard, but we were blessed to have our daughter-in-law’s parents invite all of us to their home for dinner. Even 23 years later, we will tell the great-grandchildren they never met about the fun and laughter we had, about how my mother teased by dropping a piece of warm taffy on the cheek of anyone caught napping in front of the fireplace before the work was done and so much more.
My mother had another tradition that always comes to mind when this week comes around. She would open our family table to any aunt, uncle, friend, neighbor, or cousin, etc. who had no one to share a table with. Sometimes these persons were singles, others were widows or widowers, and some had family too far away for them to share the day together. If my mother found out that someone would be alone on Thanksgiving Day, they would receive a warm invitation to join us.
I thought then and think now how the Lord must have smiled on my mother. Her first name was Delight and the name suited her well when it came to these little things she noticed and did for others. I often teased that my mother spelled love … “food.” She was an excellent cook, but it was the warmth of her table and the fellowship around it that caused those invited to it that were not our family to feel “at home.”
Yes, there will be various public places where persons who are alone can go to have a Thanksgiving dinner and how grateful they and we are for those who serve them, but it is not the same as sharing a table with a family. Even if the family is not your own, joining around the table of a family makes you feel less alone and more connected as the fellowship begins to flow through each course of the meal.
Who will be at your table if you are celebrating this holiday?
Is there room for one or two more that will not have a family table to enjoy?