The Last Thanksgiving
By Kevin Fobbs - November 26, 2009
When we sit down at the Thanksgiving table this week I am quite certain there at least a few feelings that swoop up and tug at our conscience. However we intend to celebrate this ceremonial coming together of family and friends, there is the distinct possibility that something may be missing from the table. It could be the representation of the gift of thanks from our last Thanksgiving.
Just what is that gift of thanks that may be a distinctly distant memory? It could be the true meaning to what we are giving the credit for our thanks. Is it the thanks for the assembled family and friends who have traveled from both near and far? Well perhaps they were at the same table last year. Could we be forgetting a kind gesture that was shown to us at the airport or a warm smile from a doctor who gave us more time as he explained a truly remarkable recovery?
Yes we may have celebrated all of those wonderful events and more as we sat at the Last Thanksgiving table and selected the one incident we felt made the difference or had the greatest impact or taught us the best lesson. Did we thank God for any of that or was it because of our lucky stars? Or perhaps we thanked our quick wit, or just that stuff happens.
For me the lesson of the Last Thanksgiving, in part, is giving thanks to the God that had the compassion to lift up a family struggling with debt and save them from ruin. I turn my thanks to the God that saved a community from being destroyed when a river rushed over its banks and threatened countless lives. On Thanksgiving Day I reach into my heart to show God that with the 300 million American citizens in our nation, there are still those who need him to wipe away their grief, hold the hand of a young boy who suffers sorrow at the loss of his grandmother, or support a mother who wonders where her daughter is after one year missing.
The Last Thanksgiving Day never happened for me and my father because he went to a hospital bed that week 41 years ago just before Thanksgiving and never came home again. Yet I remember something he said: “Give thanks to God; be it our first or last Thanksgiving together; and just let him know that there are others who need him at their side and to make his job easier by not forgetting them because God never forgot us.”
I did not understand how my father could be asking me to think about other people and their problems on Thanksgiving Day when he was headed to the hospital. I did begin to see his true meaning years later when I watched my then five-year-old daughter Katherine motivate her elementary school to launch a coat and hats donation drive with an idea she came up with called “Warmth From Friends.” She said the needy were part of us and she showed me a spirit that had no hate, no selfishness, but a thankfulness that would last that Thanksgiving and more to come.
“One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed.” Proverbs 19:17
A few years passed and I understood it more clearly as I stood on Thanksgiving Day in 1992 in the middle of a Detroit housing project building that was abandoned and spoke to a CNN reporter about how Metro Detroit and the nation could truly not celebrate Thanksgiving without remembering that all of us, even the homeless and the forgotten, are our family. I told the reporter that all of the warmth we had coming later that day at our individual Thanksgiving meals had little meaning if we did not help those who had been driven away from their cold tent city that the police had taken down leaving dozens of homeless people truly on the streets. I stressed that this could most likely be the last Thanksgiving for those who had been abandoned by hope, faith, and, most importantly, love.
"But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:17
I see Thanksgiving Day as a continuous journey to find ourselves and give true meaning to “Thanks be to God” for such a wonderful year and to perhaps remember all that has been shared from the last Thanksgiving if we truly did share more than just a well-prepared meal.
A recent friend of mine shared something which I felt touches the spirit of this holiday. Lize Kruger, a true sister in Christ, lives inPretoria, South Africa. This week she posted her thoughts about finding God's love and sharing it. She said, “I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no more hurt, but only more LOVE.”
Let our voice be heard and our action be felt as Lize says. On Thanksgiving Day show God that we can love his work not just in our lives but in reaching and lifting up the lives of others. Love until it hurts until the only thing that remains is more love.
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." 1 John 4:7
So on this Thanksgiving Day I will give thanks to God for allowing me to treat each preceding day as my Last Thanksgiving Day and each one that follows as a gift to show God’s love. As my father said 41 Thanksgivings ago, “Give thanks to God be it our first or last Thanksgiving together and just let him know that there are others who need him at their side and to make his job easier by not forgetting them because God never forgot us.”
Kevin Fobbs is founder and president of a policy organization called National Urban Policy Action Council (NuPac
that supports conservative colorblind solutions to universal issues and domestic policies that impact urban America. Fobbs served as director of government and civic affairs for Soul Source, a Christian news magazine, and host of The Kevin Fobbs Show www.kevinfobbs.com.
Fobbs is predominantly known for his conservative views and values including his support for life and for championing Terri’s Day to honor Terri Schiavo with a day of national remembrance. Kevin has written his Community Concerns column for the Detroit News. He also discusses issues of faith, family and freedom in his columns for various conservative groups or websites, including Renew America (Alan Keyes' website), Commentary Today, Free Republic, and Liberty Post