Last Thanksgiving, my wife and I spent Thanksgiving Day near Hillsborough, North Carolina at the home of my cousin David and his wife Rhonda.
This was a Pike family gathering, and the first time in many years that we had been away from Richmond for Thanksgiving.
In my youth, the Pikes always gathered in Greensboro. The family of eleven children started by my grandparents is now down to one 80 year old uncle.
Sustaining these family gatherings has fallen on the shoulders of my cousins. So far, no one has wavered.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and the Fourth of July are still on our yearly calendars. I guess our parents instilled in us the importance of gathering, sharing food, and fellowship.
At those Greensboro Thanksgivings, all of the food was homemade. Repeat, all of the food was homemade. That doesn’t always hold true today.
My taste buds still recall that homemade goodness along with all of the tempting aromas in Aunt Evelyn’s kitchen.
And while I always enjoy pumpkin pie, my favorite Thanksgiving dessert was persimmon pudding.
It is made with wild, frost bitten, sun ripe persimmons, not the large oriental persimmons found in grocery stores. In the South, any wild fruit can satisfy the taste buds when mixed with large amounts of sugar, eggs, sweet milk, cinnamon, and flour.
But a word of caution about wild grown persimmons, never eat an unripe one. Even Huckleberry Finn knew this. It is an experience your mouth will never forget. Eating an unripe persimmon probably would cure anyone who consistently utters foul language.
Last year, as our Thanksgiving gathering came to a close, my wife and I did something we have never done before—we went shopping.
Never in my 66 years of living have I been shopping on Thanksgiving afternoon, and I have never been shopping on what we now call Black Friday.
Let me confirm for you, I will never, and I know I should never say never, but I’m going to say it— I will never go shopping again on Thanksgiving.
Perhaps, you are wondering, Bill, why will you never go shopping again on Thanksgiving?
My answer is very simple—the cashier who checked us out.
In a very pleasant conversation with him, we learned that his Thanksgiving meal would not take place until after the store had closed, and that was still hours away.
It hit me that every employee in the store was probably in the same set of circumstances, and for that matter the same was true for every retail worker across America on Thanksgiving.
This cashier and his fellow employees should be at home, and so should I.
What was I thinking?
How did I lose my way?
How did I lose my focus?
It was way back in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln established a federal holiday proclaiming: “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” (Wiki)
I’m pretty sure there is no way Honest Abe could have predicted that his simple day for giving thanks would become dominated by retailers.
But, I sadly concede it has.
I wonder if God has conceded this too?
I’m sure God has a team of data miners up in the blue yonder who could chart for him the starting point and the history of this surge in retail madness.
But, God doesn’t need his data miners to affirm what he can already see.
I would think paradigm shifts like this make God a restless sleeper.
New wrinkles crop up on his time worn face.
Probably his antacid intake is at an all time high.
His random headaches have become migraines.
Staff meetings with his leadership team are tense.
And conversations with his only son require a box of Kleenex.
In those conversations, God beats himself up—why didn’t I see this trend coming, how could I let this happen, I must be losing my touch, why wasn’t I proactive, why was I so blind?
Enough God—stop beating yourself up— enough.
It is our question to ask, when are we going to say enough to all of those ways that distract us at Thanksgiving, and for that matter Christmas too?
Proverbs 5:21 states: “For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths.”
Perhaps last Thanksgiving, through the cashier God was nudging me to examine my ways, my paths.
That cashier’s story changed my perspective.
Maybe that tiny conversation with the cashier can change the Thanksgiving thinking of others too.