If I haven’t told you before, I’m a coupon clipper. I like deals. I often travel from one grocery store to another in order to purchase the items on my list at the least expensive price. If apples are cheaper in the adjacent neighborhood, I’ll go there. If cereal is on sale this week, I stock up. If it takes me all day to go from store to store so that I get the best price, that’s alright with me.
I learned this from my mother. And yep, I’m becoming her.
On Thanksgiving, I had an opportunity to remind myself how thankful I am for that. As I’ve told you before, my mother isn’t perfect. But I think she’s pretty close. And once, 10 years ago now, when the two of us were doing our Thanksgiving meal shopping at our local Fred Meyer, we took advantage of the store’s special: spend $100 and get a free bird. We loved the deal so much we ended up going home with four turkeys.
What did we do with all those extra birds, since we were only preparing dinner for our family of four? At my mother’s suggestion, we cooked them all and made sandwiches. Lots of sandwiches. And then we spent Thanksgiving afternoon walking up and down the streets of Seattle handing them out to those who were hungry.
It has now become a Thanksgiving tradition.
Every year my wife and I turn our kitchen countertops into sandwich-making central, and then hit the streets with boxes full of food. This year, both of our families joined in on the giving, so two cars took to the streets. We jumped out at stoplights, pulled over into loading zones, and collectively walked the parks until all sandwiches were in the hands of people who needed them.
Truly needed them.
One woman turned to face my sister-in-law, hand outstretched with a sandwich and banana, as she approached… ‘Oh, I’ve just been so hungry,’ she said.
They both cried.
We return home every Thanksgiving afternoon with empty boxes and full hearts. All traditions, whether grand, or simple like this one, are differentiated by the fact that they are executed with purpose, requiring intentionality in our actions. A deliberate task, done with heightened attentiveness, provides us with an opportunity to strengthen the family bond while imparting values across the generations. Not only do we connect more intimately, we are also able to serve collectively.
This tradition, handing out sandwiches, is our holiday. It is our calling, and our humbling, filling, manifestation of love. It is our thanksgiving, our teacher, our nourishment, and our mother.
It is, undoubtedly, the best gift we receive all season long.