Thursday, November 25, 2004

One hundred twenty turkeys later...

we returned home around 11:00 this morning after four hours of a major Thanksgiving Day morning marathon at our church. One hundred twenty turkeys later, we fell down hard on the sofas in our family room and shook our heads in amazement at the generosity of our fellow Charlotteans. I am one of those people who really doesn’t like to cook very much. I do it all the time because we have this nasty and persistent habit of wanting to eat everyday. But as often as possible, I opt out of the chore of cooking. So when the church asked for volunteers to help prepare the meals for over 100 needy families, we signed up - but not for cooking. By 6:30 am the four of us were on our way. We opened and drained cans of green beans. We spread brown sugar and pecan topping on mashed sweet potatoes. We stirred huge vats of stuffing. We wrapped and warmed 120 turkeys. As the assembly line of packers formed and all that food was apportioned and put into family-sized containers, I stationed myself at the sink where I scrubbed dozens of pans and then ran them through the industrial dishwasher there in the church’s industrial kitchen. I also managed to inflict industrial stainless steel gashes on both forefingers. No one bothered to warn me about how sharp the edges of those pans were, so when I gripped the pan with one hand and scrubbed with the other, the gripping hand took the brunt of my brute force. Ouch! The band-aids and scars will long serve as reminders of Thanksgiving Day 2004. Truthfully, no scar on any finger is necessary to remind me of this delightful day. Sure, there’s an abundance of blessing for me to give thanks for in my own life. I’m healthy, happy, and have managed to surround myself with fabulously interesting and supportive friends and family members that make for fabulously interesting stories. But what made special has very little to do with me. Remember, I’m the one who doesn’t even like turkey, but this day is not about me or what I like. One hundred and twenty turkeys and over three hundred pies were purchased, cooked, and transported to our church by kind-hearted and unselfish people whose hearts and minds extended far beyond themselves this morning. In addition, over three dozen people rose up early, made their way through this sleeping city, and give of their time, their energy, and even their blood (well, my blood anyway) so that others could have an otherwise unattainable Thanksgiving feast. Who knows? erhaps there were people in that kitchen this morning who would end up taking home one of those meals. Perhaps there were people in that kitchen who couldn’t afford to buy an extra turkey, but they could afford an extra hour or two of service. Everyone there had a story, but this morning none of those stories mattered. This morning it was about being united to tell one story: that people we don’t know have needs we don’t understand, but that didn’t stop us from sharing a love we don't know how to explain. On this Thanksgiving Day that began for me in a hot church kitchen in front of hot ovens, over hot pans, soaking wet beside a hot sink, I was warmed to the very soul with gratitude for the chance to give thanks and then give. And now one hundred twenty turkeys later, I am going to put this tired body, this full belly, and these sore fingers to bed. Gratefully, Gail NHB

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