Has anyone else noticed that Thanksgiving comes around faster and faster each year? While most businesses skip right from Halloween to Christmas, I think that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is in the fall, my favorite season and it is about family, my favorite people. I have been anticipating having all four kids home for weeks, and I plan to take full advantage of the noise, laughter and time together. But this year, I have had some opportunities present themselves that have caused me to cherish the treasure that has been showered upon me even more than usual. I try to live the golden rule of doing unto others, as I would have them do unto me, in all my relationships. Not always an easy command to follow. This year God has put a few people in my path that have captured my heart…or maybe his. A homeless man who lived with us for a few days is now in a hotel… alone. Some families we delivered Thanksgiving food to need much more than one meal in order to survive. Ms. V who makes my week each time I teach her, lives in great need of more than a few sight words can give. Poverty abounds. It seems this year it surrounds me. The needs are huge. The bucket is empty for so many. My heart overflows with compassion, but compassion alone is only fuel. It does not, in and of itself, supply the gaping holes of lack that these families experience. I cannot fill those holes, nor can they. I am not a rescuer, or a carrier of burdens, I only extend hope. All I can do is share my abundance, the grace I have been given, and pray that God himself will rescue the needy ones.
Beyond poverty, there are health issues. Cancer is on a rampage. Those in my community or in my own family who it has wreaked havoc upon can tell you how important good health is to wellbeing. Today Hannah and I went to deliver a gift to one of her friends. It was a chemo bag full of all the things she will need as she faces leukemia this holiday season. I went to a special store I know about to get her a soft sleeping hat. It is where I got my wig when I was sick. As I exited the elevator, my stomach became nauseous as I realized their new location is on the chemo floor. All the painful memories flooded my mind, and I was surprised at how strong my feelings were in a place that wasn’t even my lab. I guess the smells and sights are the same everywhere that people are waiting for poison. I walked through a waiting room full of sick people of which I used to be one. I walked and I did not have to stop to rest to finish my trek across the room. I did not have to wear a hat today to cover my bald head. I could leave as fast I finished my purchases because I am healthy.
This year, I am thankful. For provision. For health. For a support system of friends, new and old. For family, immediate and extended. For coworkers who are like family and the privilege of teaching the most wonderful kids. My heart overflows, even as it breaks for those around me who have significantly less or are facing unknown futures. It is a bittersweet holiday for me because I SEE the needs, and they stay in my head. The next few days, I will go with my family to relatives’ houses and eat too much. I will relish my children who surround me on these few days. We will cut our Christmas tree to usher in the season of Christ. I will celebrate life and love even more grateful than usual, but I will also remember my last couple of weeks and pray for those God has put in front of me. Abundance and grace. But most of all hope…for all.

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