Thanksgiving, like all other holidays, comes at the same time every year. Though the date may change, it is always held on the fourth Thursday of November.
Most of us learned about Thanksgiving when we were in grade school. I remember doing all sorts of crafts around the holiday including making turkeys out of colored paper and glue. I can almost remember the songs we sang with my favorite one being about the ‘big fat turkey down on Grandpa’s farm’ though you won’t hear me singing it today. Though there are some who choose not to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, most of us look forward to it. Not only does it kick off the holiday season, but it is also a great time for people to gather and renew the bonds that make us families and friends.
We haven’t always lived close to family, so we have had a few Thanksgivings on our own. Somehow it isn’t quite the same to sit down with the same six people in our family around a table, though the chaos of having a big family gathering can be overwhelming. We have celebrated the holiday with friends we met when we lived in South Dakota and Iowa and those were good holidays as well. One family invited us to their house and knowing that we didn’t drink wine they made sure to have sparkling cider for us to drink.
One of the awkward moments for me happened when Bill, the man of the house, invited me to give a toast. I had always thought toast was something you eat at breakfast, so he kind of caught me off guard. I did my best to come up with something clever, but the experience has helped me think about expressing gratitude. If there ever was a day for us to gather our thoughts and itemize our blessings it would be at Thanksgiving.
We are taught that the Pilgrims started the holiday as a way of thanking God for the bounteous harvest. Today, even if we are farmers, we don’t really grow all the food we will eat, we simply buy it from the market. Probably fewer than one person in one thousand actually raises a turkey to eat.
If you want to add a little spirituality to your Thanksgiving meal ask each person seated at the table to talk about something they are thankful for. Hopefully you won’t catch anyone off guard as with my experience giving a toast but having them talk about it should help each person at the table gain a better understanding of all the good that they enjoy in their lives.
I have seen many people who have very little to their name who rejoice at the simplest things that God has blessed them with. As a missionary working with Spanish speaking people in Los Angeles, I heard some of the humblest tributes coming from people that had almost nothing. Expressing gratitude that their 25-year-old car is still capable of getting them to work and being thankful that their 750 square foot apartment is warm and comfortable in spite of the cockroach colony living in the walls are things most of us wouldn’t see as being blessings, but when someone has almost nothing, they are true blessings indeed.
One of the truly charitable things that happens each year are the many Thanksgiving meals that are offered to people in need. One of our own Mini-Cassia retirees spends his holiday nearly every year putting together a Thanksgiving meal for anyone that needs a place to go. Dr. Zarybnisky and his wife seem to step up to the plate nearly every year to feed the needy. It won’t please him for me to recognize him in a public forum like this, but he should know that we think he is amazing.
Each year, Dr. Z as he is known, gathers the ingredients needed for a Thanksgiving feast and he along with a group of volunteers spends countless hours cooking and preparing them to share with anybody that wants to attend. What makes it amazing this year is that Dr. Z spent the first two weeks of November at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota getting cancer treatment. Any one of us would use that as an excuse of why we can’t put on a meal, but not Dr. Z. If people need to be fed, he will feed them.
This year his Thanksgiving meal is being served at the Burley Senior Center. It will take place on Wednesday, November 23rd from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm or as long as there is food to serve. There is no cost or obligation to participate though donations will be accepted.
My ‘I’m thankful for’ list this year will include Dr. Zarybnisky and all those who volunteer with him even though he won’t be serving me food. I am thankful for my family, my wife, and children, many of whom will be traveling long distances to spend the holiday with us. I’m thankful for the doctors and nurses who will work shifts on Thanksgiving to help any who need their services. I won’t read my entire list but suffice it to say, I am grateful that God allows me to remain on this earth, at least for a little while longer.
Finally, I am thankful to everyone reading this column. What makes it possible for us to continue publishing the Weekly Mailer is that our readers shop at the stores that advertise in our paper. There is no subscription required to get the Weekly Mailer. What makes it possible is that our readers shop at the stores that buy ads in our newspaper. Without our advertisers there would not be a Weekly Mailer.