Aside from my church family, you’ve probably noticed from my blog postings that I don’t have any real family at this point in my life. I lost my only sibling at 6 years old and my father and mother by the time I was 36 - no nieces, nephews, or cousins that I know of; my former husband’s family has chosen not to stay in touch.
On the up side, planning for the holidays for me is pretty easy. I don’t have to choose between parents and in-laws, or try to figure out how to get plane connections through Chicago. I don’t have to take time off work for an extended out-of-state trip and I don’t have anywhere to go or anyone to be with.
Thanksgiving this year was different. As I listened to others at church talk about their Thanksgiving plans, I realized that some in the group were silent. Asking them directly, I heard, “Not sure yet” or “Haven’t firmed up plans.” Another week went by and I wondered if they, too, didn’t have family, or couldn’t be with friends or relatives. Two guys are recently divorced, with kids; their first Thanksgiving alone. How were they going to celebrate Thanksgiving, by going to Cracker Barrel and eating in a corner booth?
I got a call from a friend of mine who was heading up a new ministry at church. “Would you be willing to take an international college student or two from a local university who can’t go home for Thanksgiving?”
“Sure,” I said, without hesitation. I re-traced my conversations of the past few weeks and started calling the others who had said they weren’t sure what they would be doing or who couldn’t “go home” for Thanksgiving.
There were eleven people as my guest on Thanksgiving Day. One friend came over the night before and helped me deep fried two turkeys. Another drove down from Kentucky to help me cook. There were twelve who celebrated the holiday at my house including students from Japan and Saudi Arabia, a Chinese researcher and even a Mom from Japan who was visiting for the week!
Prior to our meal, we introduced ourselves; I spoke last. “I welcome you to my home to celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving. It is traditional that families gather to celebrate, but since I have no family, today, you all are my family. I hope that you will enjoy this celebration and you have honored me by coming to my home and eating a meal with me.”
We learned so much about each other, our countries, and our cultures. One guest remarked, “Giving thanks for old and new friends is intrinsic in all languages and cultures.”
Do you know someone who has no plans or place to go for Christmas dinner? Is there one person who doesn’t have any family, is experiencing the loneliness of losing a loved one this year, or struggling from a painful divorce or a cancer diagnosis?
Why don’t you invite them to join you on Christmas to share a meal or go to church with you? If done with the love of Christ, they will in turn see Christ in you. Don’t hesitate - invite them today. People are already starting to feel lonely if they don’t have a “home” for Christmas.
Share your Christmas experiences with me by posting comments on my blog.
Blessings for you to have, and to share, a wonderful Advent season,