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?
I think we all have holidays that get botched or don’t go the way we’d hoped. I know my Halloween went that way; I wrote a cute blog about all the fun I’d be having that evening and all the people that were coming and then that evening about half of the group (my half) cancelled just before the party. I was SO bummed. Fortunately there was some candy to soften the blow and a lovely bonfire that lit-up all of the happy faces that did come. I tried hard to make it feel the way I’d imagined but it didn’t happen. I like you want to find meanings or reasons for everything but I’m not sure if there always is one. It was sad but God is still good and it brought to my mind my favorite quote as of late,
“The most beautiful of altars is the soul of an unhappy man who is comforted and thanks God” – Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
I think of your story in this quote as well. You turned the right direction, to the Lord who is good and loving and only wants good and truth for us.
Thank you for your beautiful blog, the sweet reminders of Jesus waiting for us at all times with open arms and a smile. He can do nothing else, he loves us so.
Happy Thanksgiving my dear friend!
What a wonderful quote! You said it in a nutshell! Unhappiness or disappointment surrounds us and seems to almost drown us, but our hope in God can comfort us and cause us to turn and thank Him for it all.
I had a long weekend. I took time to have my spiritual meals with Jesus and it was good.
Hope your Thanksgiving was better than your Halloween!
And a most Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
That neighbor not only missed out on a great meal but also a few treasured moments with a most inspired heartfelt soul. One offers food for the body, but you also offered nourishment for the heart…
And if this happens again and you have el mucho leftovers…well…you know where to find one of your most ardent admirers, he works in the office right next store to you…and he is always hungry for all the different types of nourishment that you always so abundantly offer to him.
Thank you for reading and your comments. All the family came and all the leftovers went home with them, so no food to share this year.
I have to say, I found out in the months after that at 91 the old plumbing doesn’t always hold and especially with a large rich meal. He thought he was doing us a favor by staying home, but I didn’t find out until long after I had my moments of disappointment and rejection.
Hope your celebration was wonderful.
Wow what a wonderful story. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year… time to spend with family and friends. I have always enjoyed waking up and helping my mom with the cooking. This year will be a tad different because I do not live at home. I will be waking up in my apartment with Brad and making a nice breakfast and spending some time just us two. Once we are both all ready we will be heading over to my moms house to start the holiday. This year Brad and I can start our own morning of Thanksgiving traditions and still have the normal feast with my family. Thank you so much for sharing. Your blogs are always so powerful and I love to read them.
Happy After Thanksgiving! Well, I hope it was all you were anticipating. I know the actual day held thoughts of Brad’s grandma, so recently taken, but I am sure it was filled with family, and the makings of memories.
Thank you for following the blog. It means so much to me to have you read and comment.
Hi Anne –
What a great blog! We have so many blessing to be thankful for and at times our plans change without our will. Yet, what a great reminder that we are not always in control of life and there are purposes that we cannot always see. I am glad to know that you and Lou always make the best out of what ever situation comes your way. Thanksgiving has always been a special time for me, spending time with family and creating great memories. I do believe less is more yet in a big family that is not always the case, regardless of the numbers of people who attend our dinners they are normally full of laughter and good times. I am blessed to know you and call you my friend, I am grateful to be in your life.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
You are too kind. Most Thanksgivings are just fine. I do see my glass half full not half empty, so I can usually find good in most situations. Each year has its moments, though, I have to say. No family dynamic is perfect. It is a good thing or I would have to leave the circle or would spoil it.
Large families and large crowds at this time of year are fun. Enjoy every moment. It is good that none of you moved so far that you can’t gather for these occasions.
It is good for Jesse to know all of his family on both sides. That connection is needed even more when life throws us curves.
I am grateful for you, too. The years here have been a blessing. I am glad to know you as friend.
Hi Anne, what a beautiful blog, so full of Grace and yet so direct with truth. Thank you, my friend for writing this for all of us. Love, Maria
How wonderful to hear from you and know you are following the blog. I miss your sweet face so much! May you have a blessed and joy-filled Thanksgiving. Glad you liked it. Maybe you would like to guest blog sometime. It would be awesome to hear from you on that level. You would bless many, I am sure.