In my parents’ house, this week was always super special. My mom, similar to many women of her generation, was an amateur chef. Her regular menu included smothered pork chops, meatloaf, fried chicken, and numerous casseroles. She looked forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas — the best investment of her culinary talents.
She would do her holiday grocery shopping early because she wanted to ensure she had everything she needed. Extra yeast cakes for her signature dinner rolls, at least 5 pounds of sweet potatoes, some for the potato marshmallow casserole, and the rest for pies. On Tuesday morning, she would place a loaf of bread in the pan reserved for dressing, to make sure it dried out properly. Wednesday, she’d pull the turkey out of the freezer to let it thaw before placing it in the oven.
She spent most of Tuesday afternoon, all day Wednesday and Thursday morning mixing, chopping, sautéing, tasting, baking, and simmering the ingredients for all the different dishes. My sister and I were tasked with preparing the relish tray, the first sampling of the day’s feast. We’d have to coordinate our preparation around all the things our mom was making. When the turkey, sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, dressing, greens, cranberry sauce, and dinner rolls were all done, she would ask my dad to carve the turkey.
As good as all the food was, that’s not what made our family Thanksgivings so special. Each year, my mom would invite someone she knew from work or church who wasn’t going to share the day with anyone. Sometimes they were friends who were going through a divorce, or their family had relocated to other states. She usually invited our pastor and his family. My grandfather married later in life, and after he died, my mom made sure my grandmother had a seat at the table. Some of the people she invited had their own family commitments, so my mom said it was alright if they came over for dessert afterward.
No matter who showed up, or how much they ate, my mom would fix plates for people to take home with them. After the meal was blessed, everyone was invited to say what they were thankful for. And whether we were seated at the adult or the kid’s table, the food couldn’t be shared until our gratitude for who we were and whose we were was shared first.
As we begin the journey of the 2022 holiday season, I hope that you will celebrate all that you are thankful for. May we continue to honor our Lord by expressing our gratitude for how His love is manifested in us and through us, not just on these holidays, but every day. May you have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving. And Amen.