It was in the seminary that I truly began to realize how much I took some things for granted. I also learned once I left home that I probably had not been truly a “thankful” person for most of my early life. Certainly I said the word “thanks” enough. But did I really possess a spirit of gratitude? Probably not.
Coming home at Thanksgiving was one of those special times for me. My mom was the best cook and this meal was so special. We all couldn’t wait to “chow down.” In my earlier years, getting to leave the seminary was great in and of itself, but on this holiday I couldn’t wait to get home and open the front door to the “phenomenal smells” of my mother’s cooking for this holiday.
Making the dressing was the smell that always brought me to tears. Her dressing was the best I have and will ever have — but Hamilton’s Catering, out of Franklin, comes real close. I used to help her with the giblets, and necks of the bird with celery, onions, and other additions like poultry seasoning, salt and pepper and some sage, but not much. She would cook the broth with the ingredients for hours. I would piece up the day old bread and fill two turkey roasters which was the amount that worked for our gatherings.
Oh how I would love to have “one more smell” and time with mom in that kitchen at our home. Telling her thanks would come out of my mouth so easily and often — if only I could have one more time.
I sure miss my mom and grandma in a special way on this particular holiday. They made it so special with the wonderful meal we all shared as family. Every year though, the usual fights occurred over who got the turkey legs (my brothers and I all like dark meat), and my dad was always making my one brother eat salad, which my brother detests. We always said that was family life on Elm Street.
My mom and grandma took the back seat when it came to sitting at the main table. They always sat on the corner chairs and constantly served us. We had so many dishes and the only thing my mom wanted was one can of asparagus (her favorite) and my grandma used to only eat the leftover meat that was stuck on the bone. It was good enough for her — she always gave us the best.
It now makes so much more sense when I think that when I said goodbye to my mother on the phone and ended usually with “Love you, Mom,” her last words were “Love you more.”
Thanksgiving is what we call this holiday, and most folks know what it should mean. Some families really spend quality time around the table sharing what they are thankful about. We ate like it was our last meal, and then hurried to get the cushioned recliners for football on TV and the Bowl games.
Now I know this day is so important to celebrate — with those you not only call family or friends, but more so to be with, share with, eat with, converse with and take time to recognize, appreciate and be grateful for the blessings we have because of one another.
What are you, what am I, truly thankful for? Is not this list long? I watched a show last night on TV called The Profit. This man, who is a financial guru, spends his own money helping folks to have a better life and experience success in business. His generosity brings great happiness to their daily lives. In this episode he was touring in Cuba. I was startled to see how the average person lives in Cuba. The control of the government over all aspects of life is horrible. It chokes off any success and joy in the homes or the lives of most Cubans. Poor working conditions and low pay is demeaning. This led me to really think about being a “thankful” person, a person of true gratitude. Most of us have so much. Many of us have had to struggle at times in our life, but we have so much more to be grateful for.
A definition we have been given by the Wichita diocese of discipleship/stewardship is: “the grateful response of a Christian Disciple who recognizes and receives God’s gifts and shares these gifts in love of God and neighbor.” Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on our blessings, but it also calls us daily to a “response” in our life’s actions that shows our gratitude, which leads us to follow in Jesus’ footsteps as we “give back” or “give out” love.
In Petersburg at a banquet hall called “Roots.” Craig Reincke, the owner, his staff and helpers host a Thanksgiving buffet this holiday for anyone and everyone, free of charge! The hall holds seating for over 300. The Catholic Knights and their families of Knights of Columbus Council #5754 will be on hand to serve the meal and even to offer delivery for the homebound.
I know they are not the only group doing this, but to me this is one great story of gratitude, compassion, and love of God and neighbor. Hats off to them for this act of Christ-like love — one who came to serve not to be served. Their acts show understanding and living out the true purpose of the Thanksgiving holiday, which is living “Discipleship as a Way of Life.” Thanks for this inspiring outreach.
All throughout this diocese so many acts of charity happen daily. Those who enter into this charitable way of living, I am sure, are what we call “intentional disciples” showing from a grateful heart gratitude which leads them to “do what Jesus would do.” It starts at home. My mom and grandma taught me well. A wonderful friend from my hometown, Mary Jane Kalvin — who is the most “other centered,” “caring for others,” “most willing helper to all who need help” I have ever known — has inspired me since my high school years to live this gratitude by service and love of others.
Who do you inspire? Who inspires you? Watch, learn, listen, and then out of your own gratitude, be his disciple. Happy Thanksgiving!