Many of our holidays have symbols — some secular, some sacred — that capture the essence of the individual holiday. For Christmas, it’s Santa Claus and baby Jesus in a crib. For Thanksgiving, it’s a stuffed Turkey (and the trimmings) and understanding that the feast centers around a table of plenty shared by family and friends.
This Thanksgiving, I’d like to focus on what’s in your pantry and why you should consider sharing it. Thanksgiving has the unusual duality in the word that captures the essence of the holiday: a day of thanks and a day of giving. This year, I’d like to emphasize how all of us can combine both, by offering thanks and giving.
We live in the greatest nation on earth. Despite moments of internal conflict, we have a standard of living that surpasses most of the rest of the world. And for that and our sense of union, we should be thankful. And there are the private thanks that only you know.
And then there’s the giving.
During this Thanksgiving, I can think of no better way to show that you care than by donating food to your local food pantry or soup kitchen; or simply by offering the gift of your time. The gift of food will be shared and appreciated. Many of us know the joy of the more typical Thanksgiving Day, where we probably indulge in just a bit too much food, against the backdrop of catching up with family and friends, as we sneak in at least a few quarters of football.
But for so many families, a full stomach is reliant upon full, well-stocked food banks. Because some might be unfamiliar with the terminology, a definition is in order: “Food banks are distribution hubs,” according to the Homeless Shelter Directory, an excellent source for finding a place to donate food or your time. “They supply the food to the Soup Kitchens, Food Pantries, Shelters etc. They, in turn, provide that food to the individuals that need it. Food Banks do not directly serve individuals in need.” Another good source is Food Pantries. Also note that other organizations, including houses of worship, also operate food-related programs.
A food donation is a marvelous gift, but if you want to go that extra mile, think of donating your physical presence. That’s truly special. I would also offer a small suggestion. Be creative in the giving of your time if you feel conflicted between sharing the day with your family and those who need a helping hand. Volunteering for a few hours and simply shifting your personal schedule (especially if you’re the host) can easily remedy the situation.
But why do anything, whether it’s donating food or giving up personal time? I’m confident that if you look into the eyes of the recipients, what you see will be answer enough.
I seldom use the word “guarantee.” But I can guarantee that when you’re personally involved, you will leave that kitchen with an uplifted heart that sometimes reaches right down to your soul. Maybe you should try it.
On behalf of my family and myself, I wish all of you a happy, plentiful and blessed Happy Thanksgiving.
That’s my take, what’s yours?