Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Soup kitchen Thanksgiving

This year I enjoyed my Thanksgiving dinner at a soup kitchen.

I've spent holidays at soup kitchens before.  Being at a soup kitchen and serving those less fortunate than myself is a great way to stay grateful and to serve others.  I've had the blessing of serving, regularly, for the lunch serving at a soup kitchen in my neck of the woods.  Eventually, I came to know most of the folks that came there by their first names.  Some, I got to know better.  But there is nothing like serving a Thanksgiving meal at a soup kitchen.  People seem to come out of the woodwork to eat Thanksgiving dinner.  In fact, when I've worked a Thanksgiving soup kitchen, the time FLIES by.  Before you know it, it's done.  Then you can go home and eat your own Thanksgiving dinner.

This year, however, I did not serve at a soup kitchen.  This year I ate my Thanksgiving dinner at a soup kitchen.

This soup kitchen.  These folks put out this spread one time a year.  It's a school in Kankakee, IL.  This year three of their guests drove 810 miles to partake in the feast.

Servers rushed around and served us Family Style.  We sat with strangers around tables covered with white table clothes.  The family we sat with counted this Thanksgiving as their seventh at this soup kitchen.  They proudly told me how everything, except their underwear, had been purchased at thrift shops.  They couldn't understand why we had come so far to eat here.  I shared that this was something my mother and father wanted to do.  They had heard it was good and they didn't want the day to be too tiring for my mom.

I admit, I didn't go into this experience with the best attitude.  I was willing to cook and serve and clean-up at mom and dad's house.  I really didn't want to be served at a soup kitchen.  I tried very hard to be positive about this whole thing.  And then I ate the food.  It was not good.  Nothing was freshly prepared.  There were GFS boxes stacked around the room.  This was not what I considered a Thanksgiving dinner.

I have to admit, I'm a little ashamed of myself.  My father insisted that the meal was good.  He was happy there was no clean-up to do.  And, to assuage our reluctance to attend this Thanksgiving event, he planned to prepare a turkey breast just so we could have leftover turkey sandwiches.  And I complained about the pre-cooked; pre-sliced; and reheated in some kind of brownish salty liquid; turkey.  I tried to look around me at all the other guests and consider the situations they found themselves living in day after day.  Nope, couldn't do it.  I was too busy thinking about how bad the boxed mashed potatoes tasted and how bland the gravy was.  I tried to remind myself that Thanksgiving isn't about the meal, but about giving thanks for all our blessings.  It's about getting together with family.  It's a day to set aside a minute or two to be thankful.  But, I was too preoccupied with trying to figure out what that taste was in the stuffing, because it certainly wasn't sage.

So there I was, fully prepared to be thankful and enjoy some time with my parents and I failed.  I was completely in my flesh.  Thanksgiving dinner only comes around once a year.  I love the taste of my stuffing and my gravy is to DIE for.  I think it was Paul the Apostle who said, "I don't understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate."  Yep, that's me.  (I guess I should be a little happy.  I found something the Apostle Paul and I have in common.)

I planned to laugh at this situation and even laugh at my parents and their cheapness.  I mean, we could have gone to a restaurant and enjoyed a meal and had no clean-up, but my dad doesn't trust the servers in restaurants.  (Don't even let me go there)  My husband tried to hard to keep me on the straight and narrow.  He kept telling me to "stop talking" and "don't say anything else."  He was able to tell the lie with a poker face.  He just kept saying over and over, "everything is very good."  He's a great son-in-law.

By the way, I'm cooking a turkey this Saturday.  Why couldn't I just sit and chew and smile and think about that?

Thanks so much all you cooks and servers.  I know you gave up a good portion of your day to feed me.  God bless you all.

701.  I serve a God of second chances and Lord knows I need one today
702.  You can cook a turkey any day of the year
703.  A safe trip to and from my parents home
704.  The opportunity for my son to spend some time with his grandparents
705.  Time together for my family (even if it was being trapped in a car together for 14 hours)
706.  Mom's delicious home-made pumpkin pie
707.  I didn't gain any weight from that dinner
708.  The housekeeper from my building is well enough to go home from the hospital today.  AND, she is retiring from working here and moving to Florida to live with her sister.  God is certainly good.


  1. Hehe.  Why doesn't a single word in your post surprise me?!?!  I can so picture the meal :)  I just got off the phone with G&G and heard how lovely everything was.  When we heard on Friday that you ate there we thought my dad had the story wrong.  He heard that you ate at a soup kitchen and we all just assumed that you went and volunteered at the soup kitchen and ate too.  Guess he had the story right :)  Glad you're home

  2. smiles...it humbling...esp to think of those that had no other options to eat what was prepared for them there that day...

    i miss being able to serve the soup kitchen here...

    i think this was a very cool way to spend thanksgiving...

  3. Weirdest thing: I have a friend in Louisville, KY who used to travel, often, to Kankakee.  Had people there. I know I'm right b/c I love that word, Kankakee.

  4.  P.S. Glad about the housekeeper.

  5. At least you got an interesting experience.  

  6. We too often forget to celebrate with gratitude.

  7. Thanks sweetie.  I know you know exactly what I'm talking about.  And I know you know I was being very kind in this post.  :)

  8. Yes....I can only imagine how bad it could have been :)
    So many issues, so many issues, where to even begin...

  9. oh bother. being human is so hard at times.. hugs my friend. 

  10. I've often thought of serving at a soup kitchen on t-giving.  I've not considered eating there, though, just forfeiting my own meal for serving...maybe having pb and j for myself that day.  I'm sure it's an eye-opener.  I think it's understandable that you missed your own food.  We really are spoiled in this country.  We have such abundance!  That scripture from Paul is one I think of often.  It is to true - our flesh IS weak!


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