This time last year we were spending Thanksgiving in Ethiopia with the friends we’d made through Cherokee Gives Back. We had all the traditional foods, except for turkey, which had to be replaced with a couple roasted chickens since getting a turkey in Ethiopia is pretty much impossible. We all sat down at a big table, told stories and our family learned more about the lives of the people we would soon be leaving when we flew out for South Africa just a couple days later.
We didn’t have big mob of friends to celebrate with for our first holiday at our new house in Colorado, but we still got to spend Thanksgiving Day with a group of people all sitting around big tables telling their stories. Our family volunteered at the annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner in Silverthorne. The event is spearheaded each year by Wendy Myers, a local woman who’s taken it upon herself to make sure everyone gets to enjoy a good meal on our country’s day of thanks. She collects donations, makes the drive down to Denver to purchase supplies, organizes volunteers and even wraps the silverware. The result is a community gathering of hundreds. As the line wove its way out the door of the event center, people were talking, laughing and preparing to sit down to a good meal.
Emily and I took turns dishing up the cranberry sauce and rolls. Alison passed out cutlery and smiles at the end of the buffet line. Brian and Liv bussed tables. I had some great conversations with folks in attendence. One guy even gave me some funny Thanksgiving one-liners:
Why can’t you take a turkey to church?
They use FOWL language.
What do you get when you cross a turkey with a banjo?
A turkey that can pluck itself!
If the Pilgrims were alive today, what would they be most famous for?
Why do pilgrims pants keep falling down?
Because their belt buckles are on their hats!
Hardy har har! Gotta love clean jokes you can share with your 6-year-old. Even though we could have eaten at the event, we decided to go home and make our own Thanksgiving dinner with the stuffing recipe Brian and the girls like so much and the spiced cranberry sauce I’d been craving ever since I saw the first Thanksgiving display go up in our local grocery store. We had a small turkey and the directions indicated it would take about 3 hours in the oven. Little did I know, turkey takes a lot longer to cook up here at 9,000 feet altitude. The bird went in at 3:00pm but we didn’t get to eat until 8:00pm. It was a fun, filling and very long day of gratitude for our crew.
The thankfulness we all focus on this time of year feels a lot different now that we’re back from our trip. I talk about this gratitude shift I’ve experienced in another post as well, but it can’t be overstated. We have so many things to be thankful for in this country, many we give little thought to since we’re so accustomed to them. Safe roads, consistent electricity, well-stocked grocery stores, running water. The focus we put giving thanks during this 4th Thursday in November is really the focus we should be putting on it every single day of the year. Being thankful for everything in our lives, both big and small, is the true recipe for happiness.