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My First Understanding of Thanksgiving

I grew up in a middle-class home. I never went without anything I ever needed. And I had plenty of fun perks to life (ballet class, video games, etc). I also didn’t know how good I had it.

My father did though. He had grown up pretty poor and was always determined to give back and help where he could. For over 20 years, he was a member of the local Rotary Club. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, it’s a “do good” type of club. He was always trying to get me and my brother involved and when I was about 15, he finally succeeded.

Every year on Thanksgiving, the Rotary Club members would meet at something like 6 am, and assemble “turkey baskets with all the fixings” thanks to a fundraiser they held the weekend before. These baskets held (and probably still hold) a turkey, bread, stuffing mix, everything for pumpkin pie, vegetables, etc. Basically everything you would need for a nice Thanksgiving meal. They would then deliver them around town to a list of people they received from some social service organization (the food bank maybe?).

I was still a surly and sleepy teen, so I skipped the part where the baskets were assembled, but my dad picked me up at about 9 am to help with the delivery. I will never forget it for as long as I live.

We went to a house less than a mile from our own. A six-year-old boy opened the door. Cheerfully, I handed him a gallon milk, and held on to a gallon of orange juice while he went to put down the milk. By the time he was returning, his father had shown up and was taking the giant basket of food from my father.

The little boy chirped to him “Dad, dad, they gave us a gallon of milk!”
To which the father replied “Why would they give us an entire gallon?”

That broke my heart! Especially because I knew that I had an entire gallon of milk in my fridge probably going bad because none of us ever drank enough milk.

That was the first time that I ever truly understood how good I have it.

Since then, I have always been thankful for my life. I have the important stuff and I know it:

  • If I’m cold, I turn up the heat
  • If I’m hungry, I go to the grocery store
  • With a few minor exceptions, I have my health
  • Enough people love me that I never have to worry about being “all on my own”

What are you thankful for this year? How do you give back?



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