Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks

"For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer." - 1 Timothy 4:4-5

My eyes flew open at 5:47 this morning, two minutes later than every other weekday morning of the year.  Typically, the local Classic Rock station jars me out of bed at 5:45 with some memorable (and loud) hit from AC/DC, Rush, or Van Halen, but today, my body told me when to wake up.

There is work to be done.  

On a normal Thanksgiving Morning I would already be hovering over the kitchen sink running cold water into a turkey which, according to the instructions on the bag, 'should' have thawed out several days ago.  My hands numb from the combination of the rushing cold water, the frozen neck (and organ bits) the 'bird man' packs into wax paper that always 'shreds' when you attempt to remove it from the innards of the bird, and the dawning realization that if the turkey isn't thawed soon...  Nobody's having lunch until sometime after four this afternoon - just like last year. 

Today, however, I'm sitting here at the trusty old Gateway laptop...  Relaxed.

Are we going 'out' for Thanksgiving this year?  The answer is both an honest 'yes' AND 'no'.  My oldest son is attending Graduate School in South Carolina and only had a couple of days off for the Thanksgiving Holiday.  As he'll be home for Christmas break in a few weeks, he's hanging out down there this Thanksgiving Day.  It's the first Thanksgiving I won't be seeing Ben for Thanksgiving, but I realize that it won't be the last time we won't see him for the day either.

The middle boy, Jon, remains at Sasebo Naval Base stationed in Japan.  This is the third year that we haven't seen our Sailor Boy on Thanksgiving Day.  Being a bit more exact, we actually haven't seen him since he deployed to Japan in May of 2011.  This being Thanksgiving Day, I'll let this last comment speak for itself - I miss my boy something fierce, but I am thankful that he continues to be safe so far from home.

So that leaves my wife, our youngest, the two dogs, and yes, yours truly home this Thanksgiving morn.  Is anyone else up, you may wonder?  No.  My wife and my son's biological clocks run on a much different schedule than mine.  I will wake them shortly as we do have 'places to go, and people to see', but for now, well, it's just you and me.

Sandy Woo - December, 2012

Well, actually, the 'little dog' was just here to let me know that she is hungry and must be fed.  The forlorn and pleading look in her eyes let me know that if she didn't eat soon...  She might die.  I'll have no dogs dying on my watch this Thanksgiving morning.  

As for our big girl, Kelly, the 'almost thirteen years old' Golden Retriever, she'll be thumping around a bit later this morning - it's still a bit early for her morning constitutional.

I mentioned above that we are 'kind of' going out for Thanksgiving this year.  This is a true statement.  We are not, however, going out to eat.  We are going out to help other people eat.  

Being short a couple of people on Thanksgiving Day makes cooking a whole turkey, baking pies, making cornbread stuffing from scratch, well, you know, kind of like 'Overkill'.  We had picked up a Perdue Roasting Chicken a few days ago, but for today, at least, that bird will remain in 'the bag'.  

Instead, we decided that we would spend this Thanksgiving with people we do not know.  We began a few days ago looking for somewhere to go bu calling around to charitable organizations who might be looking for volunteers for this Thanksgiving Day.  

The local Binghamton High School Thanksgiving Meal?  Nope, you have to be a student, or have a student the school system.

Volunteering at the local Animal Shelter?  Nope, you must have a complete background check, go through a several-hour orientation, and be able to commit to hours every week, not just one day of 'volunteerism'.

The Varna Community Center Thanksgiving Day Meal?  "Yes.  Please.  We need help."

This Thanksgiving we'll be spending our day with people we do not know, in a place we've never been before, serving meals to people who do not want to be alone on this Thanksgiving Day.  

But I guess that's what Thanksgiving Day is really about - giving thanks for the things we have, the people we share our lives with, and remembering the obligation we have to be good to one another, whether we know each other or not.  

I've said it before, I'm a lucky guy - I'm not in a position to "Spread the wealth around" as a Presidential Candidate once told a plumber in 2007, but I can walk, I can talk, and yes, I can serve (AND having worked for seven years in a Diner growing up...  I know how to clean up a kitchen) some meals to perfect, and sometimes 'imperfect' strangers.

So today my wife, my 6' 3" tall 'little boy' and I will be serving others at a place called 'Varna' because we don't want to be alone on this Thanksgiving Day either.  We're out to "Spread the Thanks around" on this Thanksgiving Day. 

In the end, the thing that binds all of us together is not our wealth, not our poverty, not our political viewpoint, but rather, our core humanity.  That spark which makes us all special in the eyes of whichever 'Creator' you happen to believe in.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you on this cold Thanksgiving Morning - enjoy the day, but mostly, take time to enjoy what you have, and you know, be 'Thankful'.  


p.s.:  Cows are thankful on Thanksgiving because they are NOT on the menu.

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