Remembering the poor and lonely at Thanksgiving


When I was little, I would always beg my mother to cook us a turkey at Thanksgiving. She’d always say, “Oh, honey, that would be a waste since it’s just the two of us”. No amount of begging, no mention of what she could do with leftovers swayed her. It was a chicken and dressing casserole for us, each and every Thanksgiving Day.

To be honest, there probably wasn’t enough money in our budget for a turkey. I just didn’t know it.

Mama was a single mother with chronic illness raising a sick child (me) and struggling to make ends meet. Things were beyond hard for us.

Even though I never got my Thanksgiving turkey made at home, I still got to feast on some thanks to some of the sweet folks in our church. Every year when I was little, late in the day on Thanksgiving, one or more families would show up at our door with a platter full of luscious Thanksgiving leftovers. There would be turkey and dressing, potatoes and gravy, various side dishes and slices of the most wonderful cakes and pies. They did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves.

When we think of the poor at Thanksgiving, many of us think of the homeless shelters serving turkey dinners or of handing out Thanksgiving baskets to the poor in our community. Those are praiseworthy works and I applaud all involved. But most of us aren’t serving at homeless shelters and many of us have never been involved in handing out baskets to the poor. But we can still get involved in serving the poor or those who are struggling at Thanksgiving by simply looking around us and seeing who it is that our Lord has put in our path for us to serve.

For instance, maybe your church, like ours so long ago, has a struggling single Mom (Mama was single due to the abuse and infidelity of my father–who had threatened to kill us). Or maybe you have some elderly members who can no longer get around as they once did and thus can’t make their own Thanksgiving dinner.

Perhaps there’s a college student who can’t make it home but who longs for company over Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s the new family who just moved to town and has been visiting your church. Maybe it’s your next door neighbor, the crotchety one everyone avoids. Don’t avoid them; take them over a platter of Thanksgiving goodies. Maybe they won’t be so crotchety afterwards. Or maybe it’s an online friend who is struggling financially or physically or has no one else.

Sometimes something, whatever it is, no matter how small, makes all of the difference to those who struggle, to those who have been forgotten, who are alone, who are hurting.

This Thanksgiving, just like every single day of the year, within your path there are those who are hurting, broken, poor, forgotten, who are aching with loneliness, those who can’t bear the thought of Thanksgiving bearing down on them and they need community. They need you.

We’re made for community but in this day and age, many of us shy away from opening our homes and hearts to others. Maybe we think that our home isn’t good enough or our lives are too busy. But if you’ve got the love of Christ living in you, you have all that you need to do something for someone somewhere. Just look around and see the possibilities. If Christ provides you the opportunity to serve, even if it’s only by sharing a piece of pumpkin pie, say “Yes, Lord” and get busy serving.

Photo by Anna Tukhfatullina Food Photographer/Stylist:

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