I am most blessed. If you could close your eyes and imagine the best Thanksgiving ever, that’s what I had each year as a child. Each Thanksgiving we traveled to my grandparents stately home in Ballardvale, Massachusetts to feast on the most mouth watering foods you could ever imagine. Tables would be teeming with roast turkey, all types of vegetables, mashed potatoes, pies, Italian cookies, and cheesecake. My grandfather was Italian, his wish despite all the other trimmings was the table must offer a pasta dish like spaghetti and meatballs. It was an international feast! Even today I close my eyes and imagine myself sitting at that large dining room table surrounded by everything and everyone I love.
My grandmother was an amazing cook. The best! I can still see her sitting in her preferred high-legged stool by the stove cooking. Her favorite pressure cooker making more the sounds of an automatic sprinkler head than a cooking appliance. The smell of fresh baked rolls wafting throughout the house. She was the Thanksgiving Master and she held court in her kitchen.
I was all of seven years old in 1968. The family, uncles, aunts, had gathered together for the annual feast. We all congregated in adjoining rooms talking loudly, laughing, children playing, while my grandmother was busy doing her cuisine magic.
Suddenly from the kitchen a tremendous bang followed by distressing screams pierced the air. Instantly we all rushed to the kitchen to find my grandmother crumpled on the floor. Her faithful pressure cooker had betrayed her this day and had exploded. The hot water scalding her from head to toe. My uncle Tom, my father and grandfather carried her to her bed and began the task of bandaging her burns. For the first time, Thanksgiving ceased to be Thanksgiving; someone was missing from the table.
My grandmother recovered and once again the following year she assumed her favorite place by the stove at Thanksgiving. As I recollect on that particular holiday I dwell on who else is missing from my table. Since 1968, numerous loved ones and friends have left too many empty chairs to count at my table and I miss them all. However one chair I can never leave empty is the one reserved for Jesus. He must remain the ever present guest in my home. After all, is it not His love and benevolence that makes every Thanksgiving possible?
Some tables are empty this season, but if God is your guest, your table is more full than you’ll ever know.