The Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving

I don’t think a Thanksgiving has passed in our home that Norman Rockwell’s famous Thanksgiving dinner print doesn’t cross my mind:  the perfect turkey, moist and seasoned; the table filled with friendly faces, laughing and agreeable; no stress; no dysfunction; everyone under one roof; just pure unadulterated joy. It is what we all hope for, but it never quite turns out that way. The reality of the Norman Rockwell picture is although we strive for the perfection of the day, it really isn’t what Thanksgiving is all about.

A few years ago a pastor/friend of mine called to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving. He started to tell me of his day. Because his wife had passed away that year and he had no other family, he invited a group of “misfits” to dinner. These were people who had no where else to go for Thanksgiving. (Some were divorced, some estranged from family, and some never had anyone in their lives to begin with). As he described the gathering, the day for him sounded the most like the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving picture that I’d ever heard.

When I told him what I thought, he laughed and explained to me why I might feel that way, “You know, Mike, the one statement I heard the most throughout the day was ‘I’m so grateful not to be alone today.'”

His words brought tears to my eyes. So many of us spend our time concerned with who is at our table; or how we appear to others; or who has treated whom a certain way; or why this person has done this; we forget to be thankful we aren’t alone. What would our table look like if no one was there but us?

I want to encourage you today, as you gather with family and friends, to be thankful that you are not alone today. Be thankful for the diversity of personalities and appearances of those around you. Set aside your conflicts. Celebrate the lives of those who sit at your table.

When we choose to be grateful for one another, animosity leaves; disappointment vanishes; anger exits; and love surfaces.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

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