There was the year those teenage girls—my older sisters and our sort of adopted sister Sharon--hid all the Thanksgiving leftovers on the roof while the adults took a tryptophan timeout. We told that story over and over until it became legend around our Thanksgiving table.
I wrote Carol yesterday to ask her how that whole thing started, and she said Sharon probably instigated it, knowing her. I don’t think Sharon had to do much arm-twisting, knowing Carol. Of course, Sue was ever the silent accomplice!
Sharon had come to live with us when her mom found herself suddenly single, with four children, and no way to care for them financially. All it took was a phone call and mom and dad were all in. Sharon moved in and became like a sister, and has been now for decades.
As I look across the landscape of my early life, I see a long line of sojourners who found a place in our home and at our table. Although we didn’t have a lot --dad usually worked two or three jobs to feed his family of seven--there was always room for one more. I don’t know how mom did it, but honestly, she was as good at multiplying those loaves and fishes as Jesus himself.
This Thursday on my 64th Thanksgiving, an eclectic assortment of 26 (and growing) folks will gather around our table out in the garden to share our gratitude for this year’s blessings (San Diego—what can I say?). I am having so much fun getting ready, and am deeply thankful for the heritage I’ve been given.
This morning as I reminisced, I started thinking: What if every family made room at their table this Thanksgiving for just one more person? I don’t have to tell you that there are lonely, hurting, displaced people all around us—from traumatized refugees who barely get by, to our neighbors or co-workers who left families back in the Midwest, or our teenager’s friend whose parents will be drunk, or the homeless woman with her two kids and a sign on the corner. What if every family who loves Jesus made room for one just of these? It’s never too late for you to get in on being blessed in the giving.
Now back to the roof. Our tradition is to eat Thanksgiving early afternoon, cover the leftovers on the table until evening and then snack on them again. So that year, as the adults napped, those girls hauled dad’s ladder to the side of the house, and one of them handed up the leftovers to the others—every platter, until the table was bare. It was dark by then, so they decided to just stay up there, which wasn’t very smart since the ladder was a sure giveaway and it didn’t take long for mom and dad to figure it out. Dad wanted to sneak up on them with a hose, but mom vetoed the idea, not wanting a repast of soaked turkey and runny mashed potatoes.
To be honest, I don’t know if I remember that story itself, or just the telling of it, but it always reminds me of the love and laughter a girl named Sharon brought to our house, simply because my parents were in the habit of making room at the table for one more.
So crowd your plates a little closer and add someone to your crowd this Thanksgiving--you will be glad you did. Happy Thanksgiving!
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Tricia McCary Rhodes
Passionate about spiritual formation, slightly obsessed with technology and the soul, author of 8 books, affiliate professor at Fuller Seminary, wife of one, mom of two, grandma of four.