Thanksgiving, sharing, and the unloving way to love selfishly


Last year, my husband and I decided to host an orphan Thanksgiving. The outdoor feast was enjoyed by 5 families gathered around a very long table. It was similar to a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, minus the popcorn and pretzels, and it was a wonderful time. New friendships formed, new foods were tasted, and I finally had cafe lights around the patio like I had been wanting.

As Thanksgiving approached this year, my husband and I decided to forgo last year’s plan for several simple reasons. One, my youngest sister, my bro-in-law, and 2 nieces will be visiting. Two, my husband’s entire family lives in town and we missed being with them last year. And three, let’s just be honest – it’s far easier not to host Thanksgiving.

Last week, my husband got a text from a family we just recently met. Could they spend Thanksgiving with us? Such a sincere and vulnerable question, it was hard to say ‘no’. I mean, it’s a few hours after all, and it’s the loving and right thing to do. So, I cleared the idea with my sister, bought a turkey, and pulled out some recipes.

And they all lived happily ever after. The End.

Not quite.

Turns out, this family is looking for more than an open home, a Thanksgiving meal, or friendly dinnertime banter. Too bad, really, because any of those things are easy for me to give. No, this family is looking to share in the preparations of the food, too. They want to enjoy the togetherness before the turkey, not just the traditional time of over-consumption and the tryptophan afterglow. They want to bust in on my holiday morning, on my sister time, on my personal space! They want to bang around my cupboards and peel my potatoes! They want a thanks-sharing, not a Thanksgiving, and this request is very much exposing my child-like sharing problem! Geez!

Loving like Jesus and giving generously like He does means taking myself out of the love I’m trying to show, in His name. If my love for other people is based on me, if my charity is extended my way, if my gift has to be my idea, if my hospitality is offered inside the comforts of my little box, then very possibly, my love for others isn’t very true. It may even be useless. Maybe it’s not ‘the thought that counts’ if I’m referring to my thought.

In this time of thanksgiving, I’m thankful for God’s patient love for me as I learn to love others His way. I’m thankful for His gentle lessons and His help where I need it most.

So here’s to Thanks-sharing Day! Here’s to life-long learning! And here’s to not having to peel the potatoes myself!

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