The Thanksgiving holiday was somewhat different for our family this year - it came down to only my husband and myself partaking of the dinner.
So it was a no-brainer for me when I learned of the Wolff family wanting to prepare and serve the first responders a Thanksgiving meal to volunteer to help them. My own family has wandered away from a family ordeal - three of the four "kids" were out of state, another one has a big family tradition with in-laws and relatives out of town. The one grandchild of adult age who was in London decided to hang out with friends, so a family meal was pretty much shot.
The Wolffs needed help cooking the feast for the first responders so while I worked on Wednesday, he cooked the two hams we offered to prepare for the meal.
Although the turnout for the meal by first responders was light, the entire meaning of Thanksgiving is to celebrate success and share. This American-originated holiday marks a day of feasting and thankfulness for the many blessings we have - food, shelter, family, friends, health and so many other aspects of our lives that we take for granted.
I've been privileged to cover events of preparing food baskets for needy families - I jumped in and helped pack some of the 1,000 boxes of food for the God's Pantry Food Bank distribution, I saw many families waiting in line for a food basket from St. William Church - food given to those who might not otherwise have a good meal.
But as the day waned out, my heart became concerned with the many people who did not receive a food basket.
There are many homeless people who reside in our community who have no permanent address, who do not receive food stamps or government assistance to offset their lifestyle.
So my husband and I went on a search of the homeless population with a tray full of Thanksgiving meal.
We drove around Walmart (in the middle of the Thursday shoppers looking to find a deal) for we have heard stories of homeless people who do not utilize our local shelter. We've also heard of some who reside close to Levi Jackson Park, so after no success at the Walmart area, we headed southbound to find a soul who needed some good food.
A drive through the park was also unsuccessful as to finding someone who might not have food on this special day, so we turned back toward Walmart for just one more attempt to find someone who needed a meal. We turned in by Center Target and stopped a city officer on his patrol to ask if he knew where we could find the homeless population who sometimes migrate in that area. He responded that he hadn't seen any that particular day, but suggested we try the exit ramps of I-75.
We made our way down the back streets of the Walmart business complex when we spotted a man walking. It hit me like a thunderbolt that our mission was about to be fruitful. We stopped the man and asked if he'd eaten or if he wanted some food. Although he initially gave some guarded information, it was apparent when he said he'd eaten turkey and was looking for a place to stretch out and sleep that we had indeed found a homeless person. He further informed us that there were some people living in a tent in that area and he was headed in that direction.
We eagerly gave him the food we'd brought from the Wolff's dinner and my husband watched him carry the food toward the wooded area he had just spoken about.
It might seem like a small gesture, but for some reason, I felt that we had contributed to getting food to some people who might not have food otherwise. Who and how many didn't matter. What mattered is that we shared Thanksgiving to someone who had less - something that marks the true meaning of Thanksgiving. It is not the amount of money you have or how much you spend, it is not about finding bargain deals for Christmas presents.
Instead, it is the feeling of giving - a day when people sacrifice and share their appreciation with one another - as the Wolffs did with their family holiday. It is the heartwarming feeling that comes only when you have tried to help another person who does not have the same privileges or advantages that you know every day.
But most of all, it is feeling that you have done a good deed - that you have helped another human being, regardless of their circumstances. So rather than mope around because there hasn't been a Thanksgiving celebration of our own family, we changed our tradition and decided to give.
And for that experience, I am indeed thankful - and blessed.