Thanksgiving: Rejection Sparks Reflection
Normally a time filled with the noise and laughter of a house filled with family and friends. A time of me bustling in a kitchen with rich spicy smells from all the preparations. But maybe not this particular year I am recalling . . .
That year it was to be just the two of us, my husband and I. Our daughter and family would be at her in-laws. We were invited, but declined. Our good neighbors invited us to join their crew, but that didn’t feel right either.
We found out the elderly friend we watched out for would be alone, too. We decided to invite him. I would create the entire meal as usual and not leave out a detail. After all, he was 91 with no close family, and with his bad heart this might be his last Thanksgiving. We would make it lovely and memorable, just for him.
The night before, I hopped around, cutting up the brown bread and making the dry bread cubes for stuffing. I chopped celery and onions, added spices to giblets and cooked that up for the broth. It was beginning! Oh, how much fun it was becoming! Funny, I thought: If it had just been Lou and I, we probably would have just hit the buffet down the street.
Thanksgiving morning I got up at 5:30 a.m. I slowly sautéed more celery and onions in butter, minced the giblets, added more spices and tossed it all with the bread. The smells were definitely putting me in the mood. Soon the bird was stuffed and in the oven. I peeled potatoes, and started the fruit salad. Oh!! I had raspberries and olla berries from the garden in the freezer. I added those too! I whipped my cream firmly and set it aside until mealtime. I laid out the vegetables and readied the sweet potatoes. It was all coming together.
I set a beautiful table, complete with crystal, beautiful serving pieces, cloth linens and my best china. It was nearly ready except filling the bowls with the hot, wonderful feast.
Finally, at 1 pm, I mashed potatoes, made the gravy, let the rolls bake and carved the bird…22 pounds for just 3 of us??!!? Overkill, but then nothing was going to be missing. Lou left to pick up our honored guest. The more I scurried, the happier I was that we did this.
Ten minutes later, Lou walked back in…. ALONE!! He looked deep into my eyes, disappointed yet wanting to protect me from the same thing. He said, “Well it seems we have been rejected. He isn’t coming.” Rejected. That was a harsh word. My eyes filled with unbidden tears. All this preparation, all this work, all this perfection (for I am a pretty good cook and I especially excel at this meal). With the only guest missing it felt untouched and yes, rejected.
I tried to find a positive thought to hold me together. I barely managed to do so but my inner emptiness was presently hard to ignore. There are reasons for everything, but at that very moment, I could only feel one emotion: Rejection.
Well, Lou and I ate that wonderful meal, probably the best rendition I had ever produced. Not one to waste, I had enough leftovers to make up 12 platefuls for future lunches! There was enough turkey to freeze for another 6-8 recipes to be planned much later.
I actually enjoyed eating it with just my husband. He was so loving and concerned over me and I was glad I had prepared it anyway. Afterward, I took a plate to our friend to eat at his house, alone, which is what he apparently wanted.
Much later, in bed, I tried to fall asleep but was ruminating on the day. I almost sat up with a start. There was a deeper application and I was seeing it clearly.
How many times in the morning did I rise too late and miss my own well-prepared “feast”, lovingly created just for me? For it says: “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” And don’t I, by my inconsideration or careless lack of concern put other things first and by so doing, scorn the One who sits quietly, offering bountiful bowls and baskets of personally prepared nuggets of truth? Sustenance that would have prepared me for the day ahead?
It was I who didn’t keep that appointment. I was also a “rejecter,” not once, but many times.
I thought further and realized something. Each “meal” is as full and complete as if it were prepared for a houseful of hungry people. Yet, it is personally prepared with the foreknowledge of what I would need for this one day. And each tomorrow, there will be another, a unique “another”, because He loves me and is ever faithful. Even when I fail to show up, He is always faithful. Does He ever fail to show up after I have been lax? Never!! It seems I was the one who needed a little reminder. I needed a bit of stirring and awakening from my lax and lazy state. It was I who needed a painful picture…
…The picture of one Thanksgiving dinner, painstakingly made, but with no guests to enjoy it. Yet even that was not truly so. For the Lord had graciously lent my wonderful husband for another year and he enjoyed the meal with me, comforted me in my disappointment and said all the right things.
But the deeper lesson was still there for consideration. It is a good reminder for me, to take time to meditate at the table every morning that my dear Heavenly Father lays out for me and never leave Him waiting again.
Thanksgivings are wonderful in many respects. But sometimes they are less than perfect. May you find deep meaning in your Thanksgiving this year, however you spend it.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Do you have a Thanksgiving memory, good or not so good that this story brought to the forefront for you? If so, would you take a moment and share with us?