And so it begins. In kitchens across the country, pies are being baked, ingredients for the family stuffing are being gathered, and cooks are making one last rush to the grocery store for that one item they need to "make the meal. Thanksgiving is upon us.
In other kitchens around the country, those housed in churches and community centers, the same agenda is being played out only on a much bigger scale. The "Season Of Giving" is here. Millions of free Thanksgiving meals will be served to those who would not otherwise have one. Baskets of food, all the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal, are being sent out to homes who cannot afford to make their own. In parking lots outside of grocery stores and Walmarts everywhere, turkeys are being donated in record numbers, loaded up and taken where they are needed. Pantries are filled to the top with canned and packaged, non-perishable items to give to those whose own pantries would otherwise remain bare. Harvest season is meant to be more than just for harvesting the bounty of the earth. It is about sharing that bounty with others.
This last Sunday I watched as dozens of men, women and children carried bag after bag of donated food items up the main aisle of our church sanctuary and placed them in front of the altar. There were easily 100 bags of food. Much of what was donated would go to towards the Thanksgiving dinner the church was serving on Thanksgiving Day, as well as to restock the stores needed to continue our weekly Shepard's Supper, held every week all year long. For this church, the "Season Of Giving" is every season.
I often find myself being of two minds at this time of the year. On the one hand, it is a beautiful sight to see people give so freely to those in need, to sacrifice time and money to help others have a nice holiday season. On the other hand, I ask myself where many of these good-intentioned folks are the rest of the year. The Season Of Giving is every season, all year long. While the holidays are a way to remind people that a good way to be thankful for what they are blessed to have in their own lives is by giving to others, I wonder if we might be able to come up with a way to keep that idea going all year long. Winter is almost here and promises to be a long and cold one. Hunger and need doesn't stop after Christmas.
Maybe we can find it in our hearts to donate one of the many gift cards we might get as Christmas presents this year to a church or service agency to purchase food, hats, mittens, and other much needed items during the year ahead. Maybe we can pick up a few extra cans of soup at the grocery story each week and drop it off at a soup kitchen. Maybe we can spend the long, cold months of winter knitting or crocheting blankets and sweaters to give to those in need. Maybe we can donate our kids outgrown-but-usable clothing to a clothing center.
The Season of Giving is every season, all year long. The best part about giving is that in giving, we receive as well. We receive the knowledge that someone, somewhere is a little better off because of us. You can't buy that kind of gift at Amazon. May the peace and blessings of this Thanksgiving be yours as well.
And so it is.