Early this morning my stomach started growling. Loudly. I was lying on the couch pseudo-snoozing while a turkey was roasting away in the oven, and the aroma wasn’t exactly helping.
The thought that hit me was, “Get over yourself.”
Yes, my stomach was growling, but a plethora of healthy food options – enough to last at least a week – were only a few feet away. There was a slight chill in the air, but I flipped a switch to turn on a gas fireplace, cozied up on on the couch, and pulled an over-sized fleece blanket under my chin. Drifting in and out of that Wizard-of-Oz-like place between awake and asleep, I started counting my blessings.
The turkey in the oven wasn’t for us. My church has several huge food programs to help feed the needy and the homeless in the greater Portland metro area. Six days a week they give lunch to roughly 250 to 300 people. On Thanksgiving and Easter about a thousand people come to be fed. If that number is as staggering to you as it is to me, feel free to take a minute to process. Astonishing, isn’t it? Obviously a church kitchen can’t roast enough turkeys for a Thanksgiving feed that size, so parishioners sign up to bring them in. There are volunteers who remove the meat from the bones, separating light from dark, then putting it on platters for serving. The assembly line process is truly a wonder to behold. There’s even a giant urn for the broth a lot of us bring in.
Taking a turkey to our church is a new tradition for us. Up until a few years ago, my husband and I either went to visit family or they came to see us for Thanksgiving. I rarely had the opportunity to prepare a full Thanksgiving dinner for more than just my husband and me. I probably only did it two or three times. A couple of times we stayed put and no one came to visit, so I made a turkey. I love doing it. There’s something about preparing a big holiday dinner in your own home that reminds you that you’re an actual adult, and nothing is better than enjoying the fruits of your own labor. But even the smallest ones are too much for just two people. We love leftovers, but for days on end? Yikes. And then there’s the after dinner cleanup, which includes picking a carcass clean. Just thinking about the word carcass is pretty gross. And besides, I’m a southern gal. We’re big on cooking for people. Your brother passed away? Here’s a casserole. Won a local spelling bee? Here’s a cake. So making a big turkey for someone else works out really well for me. I don’t know if that counts as a blessing on my end, but it’s definitely a nice thing.
What I do know I’m incredibly thankful for, the things I count as blessings make a ridiculously long list, so I’ll just go with the first handful that popped into my hazy head this morning.
- I can afford to buy a 16-pound turkey, give it away, and then buy a turkey breast for myself and my husband.
- I not only have a roof over my head, it’s attached to the kind of home I never dreamed of living in.
- I have plenty of ways to stay warm.
- I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from.
- I am able to provide better care for my dogs than some people are for their children. While this is definitely a blessing for me, it also makes me terribly, terribly sad.
- As a woman, I have never feared physical harm or death as a consequence of my desire to learn. Because of this, I am well-educated.
- I have health insurance and access to good healthcare. This means I didn’t have to think twice about heading over to the emergency room after two solid weeks with a fever of nearly 103°. Although it didn’t get that high again, I was sick with fever and a viral upper respiratory infection for an entire month, and I’m just fine. I didn’t die for lack of money or insurance.
- There are people in my life who have supported me and walked down paths with me, especially in the last 12 months, that I’m not sure I’d be able to walk with others.
Finally, I am grateful that I don’t have a growling stomach constantly nagging me about how broken I am and how little I have. Instead, I had a slight hunger pang to show me just how much I have to be truly thankful for.