“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)
It would be my first Thanksgiving since my father moved to heaven, and it would also be my first Thanksgiving ever being apart from my mama and my sister.
After Dad’s passing in May 2004, my sister and her family moved from Texas back to our hometown in Southern Indiana, and my mom went with them, leaving behind Jeff, me, and our girls in Fort Worth.
It was strange having no family around to celebrate birthdays, go to our girls’ cheer competitions, attend honor days at school, etc. I missed my family and Jeff’s family, too, but we made the best of living so far away from our loved ones. And, we really did love Texas.
Still, holidays are tough when you can’t be with family, and I was mourning the loss of my Dad and feeling sad about being separated from our extended family in Indiana. But, that sadness turned into pure panic when it hit me: I am going to have to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner all by myself!
Later that night at Dubya’s Train Car Restaurant, which had become one of our favorite places to dine in all of Fort Worth, I began discussing the dilemma with Jeff.
“Too bad this place won’t be open on Thanksgiving or we could just come here,” I said, taking another bite of Dubya’s tasty taco salad.
Dubya himself, whose actual name was Wayne Wallace, just happened to be passing by our table at the very time I said those words.
“You mean you expect me to cook for you on Thanksgiving, too?” he teased. “Well, I guess you’ll just have to come to our house for dinner since the restaurant will be closed that day. I’ll tell Krystn that the Adams Family will be joining us.”
With that, he was off to tease some other regulars.
We’d become pretty chummy with Wayne and his lovely wife, as we ate at Dubya’s at least twice a week and had been doing so for the past couple of years; however, I didn’t think we were close enough to share Thanksgiving dinner with his family. I was sure he was joking, which he did all the time.
“So, we eat at 1,” Wayne hollered to us as we headed toward the door, handing Jeff a piece of paper with directions to their house and their phone number in case we got lost.
“You’re serious?” I asked, so humbled that he would include us.
“Of course,” he said. “And don’t try to bring anything. Jeff’s told me about your cooking.”
“Ha ha,” I said, punching Jeff in the arm. “Well, thank you so much. We will be there!”
And, two days later, we did go to Dubya’s house for Thanksgiving.
Ringing the doorbell of their absolutely breathtakingly beautiful home, I was nervous the rest of the Dubya clan would secretly wonder why we were crashing their family dinner, but the minute the door opened and two giant poodles greeted us with kisses and tail wags, I felt right at home.
Abby and Ally played with the adorable doggies while Jeff and I met the entire Dubya family, and every single person welcomed us. As expected, the food was marvelous but the company was even better.
We truly felt like we belonged, and that was because they made sure we did.
Of course, I wrote them a lovely handwritten thank-you note the next week, but I couldn’t really put into words what that Thanksgiving dinner invitation had meant to us. It felt like God had just wrapped His arms around us and given us the biggest, most needed hug ever.
I’ve never forgotten their kindness (or their taco salad!), and I’ve never forgotten that very special Thanksgiving.
So here’s my challenge to you this year. Because of COVID, you may not be able to travel to see your extended family, and you may not be able to volunteer at a local soup kitchen, but you can take a few extra moments this Thanksgiving and thank God for His love and provision. Encourage those around your table to share about what they are most grateful for this Thanksgiving, and maybe even spend some time doing something special for someone outside of your family, such as:
- Write a thank you note to your pastor and his family for their encouragement throughout the year
- Call that widow at church and offer to drop off dinner or run any needed errands
- Write a heartfelt thank you letter to a member of our great military via amillionthanks.org
Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours.