Have you ever thought about the meaning of Thanksgiving? We usually all have a Thanksgiving day routine, something that has turned into a tradition of sorts. Whether it is splitting up the day between two family households or gathering at your home with everyone sitting around the table sharing stories, eating and laughing.
This Thanksgiving I was reminded of the true meaning of this great American holiday. I placed my annual Happy Thanksgiving phone call to my mom and dad in Utah. I expected the usual chit chat about the great meal, family in attendance and how much they missed us, but instead I received a much needed reminder of what this holiday is all about.
My sister and her husband have a friend staying with them who has had a really hard life. He never had the joy of celebrating holidays with his family. His girlfriend and her two children have been staying in a homeless shelter after being abused by her father. My sister asked my mom if it would be okay for them to come to their house since they had no where else to go. My mom was a little stressed about the amount of food, but for some reason she had actually bought two turkey's this year, and said, "Of course!" With everything that has been going on with my dad's health and his recent return home, my family had thought that this was going to be a "normal" family only holiday. However, often times things do not go as planned...we get the opportunity to step outside the "normal" and be blessed by helping others.
My parents ended up with a packed house, my nephew Johnny and his mom, Tyler's mom, Debbie, Tyler's friend and his girlfriend and kids. There was plenty of food, love and sharing. The gift of thanks and giving was in full effect. My dad held and fed the girl from the shelter's baby while she ate. There was plenty of food and it was a TRUE day of Thanksgiving!
My dad shared a special story that really put everything into perspective:
Several years ago there was a micro burst of extreme winds that ripped through Utah, tearing off roof top shingles and knocking down trees throughout the city. As a policeman, my dad was assigned the task of going to the cemetery and surveying the damage. As he stood looking around the grounds, large old trees uprooted, strewn about the grounds. He noticed that all the trees that were torn from their deep rooted homes were the ones that stood alone. The trees grouped closely together, were still safely standing, branches swaying in the wind, shading the grounds with their majestic beauty, sheltering each other from danger. He quickly realized how much trees are like our family's. With every storm of life...struggles, hurt, heartache, and illness, if we stand alone we will fall. However, together with your family's love, support and comfort we can get through the hardest storms of life.
Sometimes others do not have family in which to turn to and have been standing alone for so long that they continue to fall. Those of us blessed with a strong family unit can band together around those less fortunate and provide love, strength and support...just like a group of strong majestic trees providing safety from a fast moving storm.
HAPPY THANKS GIVING!