Thanksgiving was always a special time in our family. Early in the morning we would pack up the car and drive about two hours south to my aunt and uncle’s house. And there we would spend hours playing ping-pong while patiently waiting for dinner to be ready.
Eventually we would gather around a table filled with food. The olives that somehow disappeared before we ever sat down for dinner. The cranberry sauce (from a can). The sweet potatoes full of butter, brown sugar, and marshmallows. The mashed potatoes and gravy. The stuffing. The turkey. And, in our family, no Thanksgiving was ever complete without blue Jell-O.
Thanksgiving traditions have changed through the years. I think it’s been a full decade since I’ve spent Thanksgiving at home (you can imagine how it went the first time I told my parents I was going to Texas for Thanksgiving to meet my boyfriend’s parents…at least that worked out well for me). But while I haven’t been with my own family, I have always been surrounded by family. Sometimes it has been my in-laws, but most often we’ve been welcomed around someone else’s family table.
It's a picture of the Church at its best.
From its earliest days, one of the distinctive practices of the Church was that it created a new community, a new family, that was unlike anything else in the Roman Empire. Because the community, called the Church, included everyone, slave and free, rich and poor, man and woman, Jew and Gentile. And in that community, it wasn’t every person for themselves, it wasn’t a race to see who could be the best and the greatest, but instead, they cared for one another, they shared with one another, they looked out for one another.
Generations later, the Church is still called to one another.
P.S. No matter where we’ve been, or who we’ve been with, the sweet potatoes, full of butter, brown sugar, and marshmallows, have always made it onto the table.