In his seminal piece, “Alice’s Restaurant”, Arlo Guthrie sings of eating a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat. Of course, the whole point of the song was not the dinner that Alice cooked but the troubles that Arlo got into when he and his friends volunteered to clear up the mess that such a wonderful meal created.
Eleven years ago, I had such a Thanksgiving dinner. It wasn’t at a plush restaurant nor was it cooked at my family’s house. It wasn’t one of the times that I have cooked a turkey myself but rather was a simple meal that only cost me $5.00 or so. It was given by a church in the small Kansas town where I lived and it was the church’s contribution to the town. I had been unemployed for some time and the future, such as it was, seemed rather bleak. But this simple meal, offered to all who came to the church offered hope at a time when I really needed it.
Today, my church is serving Thanksgiving dinner for some three hundred people in the community, people who would otherwise not have a meal to eat today. In a community where hope is not often found, such a meal offers a chance to see that there is hope. It is truly a day to give thanks.
I trust that on this day of turkey, parades, and football, when our attention is often diverted by year-end financial statements that often require our participation and we seemingly are stuck in traffic as we travel to our families and friends, we will think about those who cannot do what we take for granted. Perhaps this will be the year you will help someone enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner that can’t be beat and they will find hope so that next year they are able to help someone else.