A Lesson In Thanksgiving



     Sally and Sam had always had fun on Thanksgiving.  It had been a time when the whole family got together at Grandma and Grandpa Miller’s house.  There was lots of good food to eat, and Sally and Sam got to play with their cousins.

     They were disappointed when their mother told them that they would not be able to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s for Thanksgiving this year.  “I am afraid we live too far away now, and your father cannot take the time off work,” their mother explained.

     Seeing their disappointment, their father said, “I have an idea!  Why don’t you invite some of your friends over for Thanksgiving?”

     “Everyone is going to have Thanksgiving with their own family!” Sally pointed out with a sigh.

     “How about Roger?” Sam asked.  “He only has a mother, and she doesn’t make much money.  I’ll bet they’d like a nice Thanksgiving dinner.”

     “I’ve met Roger’s mother at school,” Sally and Sam’s mother said.  “She seems like a very nice woman, but I’m not sure she would like it if she thought we were inviting her because she and her son are poor.  I will write her an invitation, explaining that you children are not able to be with your cousins this year, and we would appreciate it if they could join us for dinner.  That is true; isn’t it?”

     “Is something wrong, Sally?” Sally’s father had seen his daughter’s change of expression.  ““The other kids make fun of him, Daddy!” Sally cried.  “When they find out he was over for Thanksgiving, they will tease me too!”

     “Why do they make fun of him?” her father asked.

     “I don’t know.  His ears are a little big, so some of the kids call him Roger Rabbit, but mostly, I guess, it is because of how he dresses.  He wears the same pants and shirt all week!  And his shoes have holes in them!”

     “Perhaps his mother cannot afford to buy him new clothes, Sally,” her mother pointed out gently.  “Not everyone’s job pays as much as your father’s does.”

     “Jesus tells us to do good to others without hoping to get any kind of reward,” Sally’s father reminded.  “If the boy is being teased at school, he can use some friends.  We will invite Roger and his mother over for Thanksgiving dinner.”

     Sally knew her father had made up his mind, but she was not really happy with his decision.

     The next day she watched as Sam gave Roger the note their mother had written, and told him that he and his mother were invited over for Thanksgiving.  The look of joy that came into Roger’s eyes made her feel slightly uncomfortable.

     “Hey, Sally, what is your brother doing with Roger Rabbit?”  One of the girls who had been playing nearby came up and asked.

“Father says it is wrong to call names,” Sally answered proudly and walked off before she could be questioned further.

     Don’t you like Roger?”

     Sally was happy when no one learned that they had invited Roger and his mother to their house.  Perhaps no one would ever know, she thought as school let out for the Thanksgiving holiday.  It was different with boys, she decided.  Boys did not care what they looked like.  But girls had to look nice to have friends, and their friends had to look nice too, or people noticed and made fun of you.

     On Thanksgiving day, Sally’s mother was glad to have her help.  There were potatoes to peel and rolls to make and oh so much more! 

     “You have done a wonderful job, my dear, and such delicious smells!” Father said approvingly as he lay the last piece of silverware on the table and stood back to inhale deeply.  Just then the doorbell sounded, and Father opened the door for their guests.

     “Hi, Roger!” Sam called out from his bedroom doorway.  “Come on in, and let’s play!”

     Roger looked toward his mother and she nodded her head, “Go have fun, dear, and I will get better acquainted with Sam’s parents.  And this little girl must be Sam’s sister, Sally?  I expect you have been a big help to your mother today.”

     “Indeed she has!” Sally’s mother flashed her daughter a smile.  “Why don’t you go play with the boys, Sally?  Dinner won’t be long.”

     Sally stood in the doorway watching the boys as they talked.  Approaching, her father asked, “Are there any games the three of you can play?”

     “I know a good Thanksgiving game!” Roger explained.  “It is easy too.  All you have to do is make a list of the things you are thankful for, and the person with the most things wins.”

    I don’t know,” father said hesitantly, but Roger added, “My mother and I play it every year.  I will ask her if she wants to play,” and he rushed from the room.

     “What can he have to be thankful for?” Sally asked.  “He does not even have a good pair of shoes to wear!”

     “Perhaps he knows there is more to life than new shoes,” Sally’s father said soberly.  “Come you two; let’s play Roger’s Thanksgiving game.”

     Paper and pencils were passed out, and the children sat down to list all the things for which they were thankful.  This is going to be easy, Sally thought, and wrote down a few items.  Then her brow puckered.  What else did she own?

     “Time is up,” Sally’s father announced as the buzzer in the kitchen went off. “While mother is putting the finishing touches on dinner, suppose we go over our lists and see who came up with the most things to be thankful for.”

     The lists were laid out on the table, and Roger’s list was the longest.  But as Sally looked at what he had written she felt puzzled.  “I don’t understand, Daddy,” she said to the man who stood looking over her shoulder.  “How can he be thankful for those things?”

     “How can anyone not be thankful for those things, Sally?” her father responded.  “Roger has remembered to be thankful for things that many of us take for granted.  That is one of the reasons he is so happy all the time.  I think we would all be a lot better off if we remembered to thank God every day for the wonderful things He has given us.”

     When Sally and Sam’s father gave the prayer of thanksgiving before dinner, he remembered to include many of the things Roger had written on his Thanksgiving list.

     Watching Roger as he sat at the table laughing and talking with his mother and the others, Sally began to feel ashamed of herself.  Roger knew better than she how to do things God’s way.  And that was why Roger, in spite of not having much in the way of physical possessions, was happy.

Joanne Rutis