Thanksgiving was my grandma’s favorite holiday. It is the one holiday that she insisted all 5 of her children (and spouses), 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren must gather in Hoberg, MO to enjoy the Turkey dinner she made for us. Grandma didn’t mind if we moved our Christmas celebration to another day, or if our Easter egg hunt fell on a random Saturday. Thanksgiving, however, was to only be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November each and every year.
To honor her request, every year my entire family would squeeze into my grandma’s tiny modular home. We would pray for nice weather so we could send all the kids outside to run around the farm so the adults could find a place to sit.
I have many fond memories of those Thanksgivings with my grandma. But I have to admit, I never looked forward to the actual Thanksgiving meal. The food itself was never very good and if you weren’t at grandmas before 11:00 a.m. there usually wasn’t any food left anyway.
But the Thanksgiving celebration wasn’t about the food or the location, it was about gathering with my family and listening to my grandma tell stories about my mom, aunts and uncles. She would tell silly jokes and laugh at all the kids while stirring up her boxed mashed potatoes.
As I’ve grown up, gotten married, and had children of my own, I realize how special those Thanksgivings really were. And having made a Thanksgiving meal myself, I now understand the actual cost of the meal and why there wasn’t much food and why the mashed potatoes came out of a box. I understand how blessed my family was.
My family’s Thanksgiving celebrations have changed considerably since my grandma passed away. We no longer gather as one big group and there is no Turkey dinner with boxed mashed potatoes. Instead, we honor the memory of my grandma and her favorite holiday by helping families in need around the community.
As W.J. Cameron said “Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.” As a Girl Scout, I know what it means to take action to make the world a better place. There are so many ways to give your time and make an impact on someone’s life:
- Help prepare and serve a meal at a local soup kitchen
- Collect non-perishable items for a food pantry
- Make a Thanksgiving food basket for a local family
- Send a shoebox for soldiers http://www.operationshoebox.com/
- Invite others to share your Thanksgiving feast
- Make “thank you” cards for veterans
- Make Thanksgiving goodie bags for a crisis nursery or women’s shelter
During this wonderful family-filled season of thanks, I challenge you to count your blessings and if you are able, take time to give back to others. “Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.” ~Theodore Roosevelt.