Many years ago, a co-worker invited me to her Thanksgiving celebration. I declined as I was spending the day with my family, but asked what she meant by a phrase in her invitation “Thanksgiving for people who don’t have any place to go for Thanksgiving.” Her answer has haunted me for almost thirty years.
Her Thanksgiving feast was large, with fifty or more people in attendance. Guests were invited to bring others along. The result was a fascinating cornucopia of humanity, all coming together for a feast. Laughter, conversation, and wine flowed until the wee hours of the morning. Reasons for attending varied. Some people could not get home for the holiday, either because they could not afford the travel or could not take the time off work. Others were no longer welcome because of who they chose to love and some people came from families so dysfunctional that it was not safe to go home.
Her answer shocked me to silence, then moved me to tears. I’ve never forgotten that conversation. Every Thanksgiving I begin the day with a prayer for “people who don’t have any place to go for Thanksgiving”.
Thrive Global recently published a blog that made me think of that conversation many years ago.
Katherine Schafler refers to four questions, attributed to Maya Angelou, that we all unconsciously ask:
Ms. Schafler suggests that we ask these questions during every human interaction. We unconsciously ask these questions with our loved ones, professional colleagues, even the barista who prepares our coffee. They ask these questions of us as well. We begin asking these silent questions at an early age and continue to ask throughout our lives.
What are your answers to these questions? These questions and their answers have the power to impact your life. Did you see your wife/husband this morning or were you distracted by the television? Did you see your son/daughter or were you distracted by a phone call? Did you see the grocery store cashier or were you mentally reviewing your chore list? What would you like to do differently on Thanksgiving Day to let others know that you see them, to let others know that you care?
This year I am overflowing with gratitude for family and friends. My hope is that they know that I see them, and they are special to me. My wish for you, dear reader, is that you see the people around you and that you are also seen.