We were in Orlando for Thanksgiving this year so there was no turkey, no dressing, no dining table filled to capacity with casserole dishes. Our “let’s buy groceries as we need them” plan backfired, as we lost track of the days and didn’t realize until Thanksgiving evening that we had no yummy food to make for our meal.
So while I read friends’ Facebook posts of the homemade macaroni and cheese, pumpkin pies, and yeast rolls, my own dinner consisted of some slices of salami, cheese, and apples. And then spoonfuls of peanut butter to supplement, since my belly was still empty. Everyone else got Eggo waffles.
But even though we missed a bountiful Thanksgiving feast, I did get a Thanksgiving blessing a few days later.
It was on the drive back to Little Rock, when we stopped in at a hotel in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The next morning, we all headed down to the lobby for the free breakfast. I let the girls eat at a table by themselves while I drank my coffee and ate my cereal.
I was just about done when an older gentleman one table over looked over at me and said in a thick Mississippi drawl, “Children are a gift. Tell them every day you love them.” I nodded in agreement, thinking this was just casual grandpa talk.
The man continued. He teared up and told me that his own son had died just 6 weeks earlier. He was 39 and was killed in a motorcycle accident. “You think they’re precious now. Well, I gotta tell you, they get more precious each day.” And he repeated his admonition to tell them every day that I love them.
He told me how he often clashed with his son, becoming frustrated with him when he wouldn’t tow the line and do things the way his father said. “You know, I’m thinking, I’m the father. He should just do what I say, right??” And then he told me of some unsolicited advice he received years ago from an acquaintance, telling him to step back and allow his son to walk his own path. He said he thought it was meddling at the time, but had come to see the wisdom of the words.
And then he repeated them to me as we sat in the hotel lobby, two strangers having met by chance on a Thanksgiving weekend.
“They might not always do things the way you think they ought to, but that don’t mean it’s not the right way. There’s more than one right way.”
A beautiful Thanksgiving blessing.