Garner: Opinion

Column: Sharing Thanksgiving with others

Johnny Whitfield, columntst The Eastern Wake News and the Garner-Cleveland Record.
Johnny Whitfield, columntst The Eastern Wake News and the Garner-Cleveland Record. tiwabu@newsobserver.com

On Thursday morning – Thanksgiving morning – hundreds of people will gather at the Lions Club building in the small Franklin County crossroads of Pilot. The field next door, which is normally empty the rest of the year, will be transformed into a giant parking lot. Inside the building, every table will be filled with people – families actually – eating a traditional North Carolina breakfast: sausage, grits, flapjacks, biscuits. Nothing fancy, but good food nonetheless.

Along one wall in the great room of the two-room building, there will be several tables lined up end to end and filled with the food those people served themselves. Along the other three walls there will be a long line of people waiting their turn at the food. In the other room in the Pilot Lions Club, there will be a handful of people making biscuits and other items on the morning menu.

Under a closed-in lean-to off the kitchen, there will be a bunch more people working on still more parts of the menu.

The project is bigger than a crossroads civic club can handle, but people enjoy it so much, they chip in their time to help the Lions out.

Two things capture my imagination about that scene every year. The first is that it is a family event.

Most everyone sees Thanksgiving as a time to gather with family and enjoy their company, catch up on the lives of brothers, sisters, neices, nephews, grandparents and grandchildren. It’s a remarkably social time.

But it is somehow oddly incongruous that such a gathering would take place in public. It ought not be. The social aspect of the gathering is clearly a highlight for those who attend. Conversations carry from one table to another. People at tables chat with those in line. It’s a time to catch up with their community wide family, not just their biological family.

The second thing that grabs my attention is the dedication of the Lions and their helpers who give up a part of their own personal holiday to serve others. The Pilot Lions aren’t the only ones in this area who give up part of their Thanksgiving holiday to serve others. But they are clearly in the minority.

I’m ashamed to admit that, other than going to places like the Pilot’s Lions Club to take pictures, I guard my time off during Thanksgiving so I can maximize the time I get to spend with my own family. Shame on me.

There’s nothing more gratifying – especially during a holiday – than serving other people.

If, like me, you already have this year’s Thanksgiving plans written down in stone, you may not be able to make room for serving others. But it’d be great if you took the time now to make a note to yourself to carve out some time next year to serve someone else next year. It doesn’t take all day. You can still budget the bulk of your holiday for family.

But I suspect we’d all be more thankful for what we have if we spend some time on Thanksgiving giving it away.

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