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11-23-17: “What If” for Thanksgiving

This is my 60th Thanksgiving, probably my favorite holiday. Why? I love the fellowship of family and I love the tradition of the family meal. All those happy, familiar faces swirled together with all those delectable smells just make my heart sing. Our family meal includes baked turkey, oyster dressing, mac-n-cheese, greens, green beans, sweet potatoes with those little marshmallows, pigtails and sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, iced tea (with lemon, mint, and 7-up), the relish tray (with pickles and green olives), sweet potato pie, peach cobbler, vanilla ice cream, and MONKEY BREAD. Other traditional happenings for Thanksgiving include lots of laughter as we share old stories about each other, and the obligatory game of Spoon. We also go around the table before we eat and say something for which we are thankful.

I have never known a Thanksgiving without family, someplace to be for this scrumptious meal, and the other traditions. I am indeed blessed and thankful. We have faced Thanksgivings welcoming new family members and missing those who have either moved away on earth or who have moved away to Heaven, but the traditions have survived. My mother’s monkey bread recipe was passed down to us, but Meloni, one of her granddaughters, has taken up the mantel to bake tons of it every holiday. I have no idea why my mother added the pigtails and sauerkraut to our African-American meal, but it’s here to stay as far as we’re concerned. Daddy was the one who always made his special iced tea and now my sister grows mint in her backyard so the tea never goes without it. And we’re ruthless around the card table playing Spoon, and would have it no other way.

What if I had never known these traditions? I probably would not miss what I had never known, but I also would not know the joy of what I had missed. This is why we reach out to others at this time of year. Some people criticize the fact that people don’t think to reach out to others throughout the year; however, it is a blessing to give holiday cheer to others at holiday time. Let’s not belittle hearts that want to reach out, be it all year long or just once a year.

What if we started a new Thanksgiving tradition? What if we were to pay attention to our loved ones and do something for them that would make their lives more comfortable? Then what if we fulfilled those needs, not because they deserved it or earned it, but because we were able to bless them? Think about extending grace this year (grace is getting what we don’t deserve). Here are some ideas:

  • Cover gas for their car for six months. Either load a gas card with six months worth of money or send a gas card once a month.
  • Pay 3 – 6 months of certain bills.
  • Baby-sit for free for those who have little kids so the parents can have some alone time.
  • Act as a cleaning service for them one Saturday.
  • Wash their car.
  • Give a woman a spa day or pay for her next hair and/or nail appointment.
  • Take on the other person’s normal household chores.
  • Do their ironing.
  • Set up a social media account for an older family member and show him or her how to connect with family members.
  • Fly loved ones home for the holidays.
  • Etc. (Be creative.)

The Golden Rule says for us to do unto others what we would have done unto us. Experience a closer walk with God by obeying that on this Thanksgiving?


©2017 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at Also, periodically check in at to see what’s going on in the ministry.

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