Since my husband and I are from New England and have visited Plymouth many times, we pride ourselves in doing Thanksgiving 'right'. At our table you will not find anything fried nothing with cream of mushroom soup or marshmallows. Our pies are made from real fruit, never from a can, our crusts are homemade and the whipped cream is exactly that, heavy cream whipped in a cold bowl with sugar. To us, it is heavenly.
We realized a few years ago when we celebreated this great holiday with a friend from Miami, that what was 'really Thanksgiving' for us was not so for everyone. We were Thanksgiving Snobs. Our friend put ingredients where they did not belong. Sausage was in just about everything and thyme was replaced with hot sauce and cayenne pepper. I was freaking out. This was not a 'real' Thanksgiving.
But yet it was. We sat around the table and ate the food. His food creations were kind of yucky to me and mine were yucky to him. (Except for the whipped cream. I mean, how can real whipped cream ever be yucky?) Yet, that Thanksgiving has stayed with me. My food anxiety has become a longstanding joke.
My friend grew up in a household with too much drinking. As we cooked he made jokes about his childhood. He told me that he remembers watching the parades on TV as the adults around him drank themselves silly.
"How did you make it?" I asked him as we cooked. See, statistically he shouldn't have finished High School. His parents managed to hold down their jobs, but because of their drinking, they couldn't pay much attention to him. Now here he was an adult with a Master's Degree and a job.
His answer was simple. "The Church," he said. After school he would go to his United Methodist Church and hang out. He did his homework and read books from his Pastor's library. He kept his small youth group going and helped out around the church whenever it was needed. You name it, he did it.
Life is mixed up. Things that we think don't go together, often do, when we open our minds to God's love. Just because I don't think sausage goes into every Thanksgiving dish, doesn't mean it won't work. Just because a kid grows up in adversity doesn't mean he or she won't make it.....especially if we, the church are really following Jesus.
Kids show up at church. My twenty-something years of experience prove this and yet it always surprises me. What are they looking for? Probably hope, acceptance, a kind listening ear and maybe a snack. That's what an inner city church in Miami gave my friend many, many years ago.
We can do the same here in our neighborhood. We can show kids another way. We can give them Jesus' hope and kindness. We can help them make it. Right now we are looking for adults who want to reach out to kids and help them know they are special. Pray about this and talk with our Youth Director, Kevin Ward or me. Who knows what will happen!
Oh, my friend from Miami? He's a Pastor now. A really, really good one.
You can come see him in action at our Church Christmas Party on Sunday, December 9 at 5pm. He'll perform, "Bubba the Shepherd'. Yes, that's right, Bubba. How can you stay away? It will be hilarious. Bring your friends!