Beyond the Thanksgiving Table

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This time of year was always special to me when I was a kid. Thanksgiving meant a big turkey dinner at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, complete with stuffing and all the fixings. Grandma would cook the food, and Grandpa’s job was to carve the turkey with the electric knife. And oh, the desserts! There was never just one kind of pie. I played all day with my cousins, and laughter filled the house. There was plenty of food, love, security, and safety.

Perhaps you can relate to these Thanksgiving memories?

At the time, I didn’t feel particularly fortunate. I thought everyone’s Thanksgiving was like ours, but as I grew up my world got bigger. I learned of families living in poverty, scarcity, and fear; of kids who have never had a chance to experience the love and contentment – the safety and security – I took for granted. As my awareness grew, so did my discomfort with this new understanding. What did their experience mean for me and my abundance?

No one needs to apologize for growing up knowing the safety and security of having enough, but how sad it would be if we do not recognize and appreciate the opportunities and advantages this provides us. I am not advocating noblesse oblige, but rather that gratitude for what we have is a catalyst for empathy.

Gratitude for what we have is a catalyst for empathy. – Darren Pries-Klassen

Good fortune provides an opportunity to grow in mindfulness and compassion for those who have less. If we know the warmth of a loving family, we can invite the lonely into our circle of friends. If we have time off, we can spend it serving in our communities. If our plate is full, we can invite the hungry to our table.

Many of us have just returned from a Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends. Perhaps this is the perfect time to channel our gratitude into empathy and action. The needs in our communities go far beyond a full plate and a pumpkin pie.

How will you share your time, talent, and treasure?

Contributed by Darren Pries-Klassen

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