I know this post is a little early…hope you enjoy anyway!
That word echoed in my brain. And being alone was hard. People all around me were with their family, their friends. It just didn’t seem fair. Wafts of pumpkin pie filled the air. Stuffed turkeys stood at every door. And this-all of this silly thankfulness- fake. It was all fake. Thanksgiving wasn’t a happy holiday for everybody, and it wasn’t a time of thankfulness. What did I have to be thankful for, anyway? Nothing.
Suddenly, a voice cut into my thoughts. “Excuse me?” A girl around my age smiled down at me.
“Whadda you want?” I muttered. The girl rubbed her mittens together and continued.
“Oh- uh, I was wondering where your family is,” she answered.
I hated this conversation. “I don’t have one, okay? Now leave me alone and go join yours!”
The 12 year-old didn’t give up. “My family is about to sit down to some steaming mashed potatoes, and delicious turkey. Plenty to be thankful for. Do you wanna join us?”
I ignored the invitation.
“Please? My church is having a contest to see who can invite the most orphans!”
“Oops-I mean, alone kids,” she said quickly.
I thought about it. I could go to some annoying girl’s house for dinner, or freeze out in the cold with nothing. Eventually I decided to accept the invitation. “Fine,” I sighed.
A smile of victory spread across the girl’s face. “Yay! Now let’s hurry.”
I nodded, and tried to keep up with her. “Oh my gosh! I’m almost forgot!” The animated child slapped her bright face. “My name’s Caroline. What’s yours?”
“Brian,” I gasped, out of breath.
“Nice to meet you, Brian.” The girl paused for a second, and then kept blabbing. “We’re almost there. Just two houses down.” Caroline started sprinting towards her front door. “Hurry up,” she called. I tried to match the girl’s pace. At last, we came to her house.
When Caroline opened the door, I instantly felt at home. Warm, scented candles lit up the room. Voices rang from every corner of the house. And the table was adorned with much more than turkey and pumpkin pie. Vegetables, cornbread, cranberry sauce-and much more crowded the entire thing. My mouth began to water.
Suddenly, a rather plump, rosy-cheeked woman emerged from the kitchen. She looked a lot like Caroline. “Brian, this is my mom. Mom, this is Brian.” Caroline announced.
The motherly lady placed an overflowing platter of pumpkin muffins on the table. Then she shook my hand. “Nice to meet you, Sweetie! You can call me Mrs. Ried.” I stared at the steaming, perfectly-shaped muffins. “You and Caroline can gather up the kids for supper. It’s ready now,” Mrs. Ried continued.
Caroline nodded, and dragged me to her Living Room. As soon as she hinted there were desserts, everyone had no problem following. About twenty people gathered around the wooden table. Everyone held hands and closed their eyes. I kept my eyes wide open. What was happening?
Suddenly, Mrs. Ried began to speak. “Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for the time we have together as family and friends. Please help us all to recognize that we all have something to be thankful for, even if it’s not easy to see. Please bless this delicious food to our bodies, and let us grow in your Word. Amen.”
“Amen,” Everyone echoed. Then hands were released. I sat down next to Caroline and a hungry boy a bit younger than me. As people ate heartily, (including me) they talked about what they were thankful for.
When the time came for me to say something, Caroline asked, “What are you thankful for?” But I didn’t know. Tears rolled down my cheeks. There was nothing I was thankful for. A hush fell over the room.
Mrs. Ried broke the silence. “Brian, it’s okay if you don’t know what you’re thankful for. That’s normal. I just want you to know, though, that there is something to be thankful for.” Another tear rolled down my cheek. Mrs. Ried began to tell a wonderful story about Jesus. She ended by saying that this “Jesus” loved me and wanted to be my friend. I couldn’t believe it! There was actually someone out there who cared!
Eventually, Mrs. Ried said, “Brian, you can ask God to forgive you right now. If you do, you are confessing your sins. Would you like to pray to Him, like I did for the meal?”
I thought about it. I could pray right there-in front of the whole world, or just keep to myself and say no. This time, the answer was not apparent. What should I do? I thought. The answer scared me, but didn’t stop me from saying, “Yes. I do want to pray. Right now.” A smile slid across Mrs. Ried’s face. Then every head bowed, every eye closed. I had center stage.
“Repeat after me, Sweetheart,” Mrs. Ried said quietly. She paused before saying, “Dear God, please forgive me for my sins. I do not want to live like this anymore. I want to be your friend. Please give me strength as a Christian and help me to love you more. Amen.” I repeated every line. And after repeating the prayer, I actually felt good. I finally had something to be thankful for.