It’s Thanksgiving Day, and during this month our home has undergone the transformation from scary Halloween ghosts and witches, to the earthy displays of leaves glowing in autumn red, pumpkins greeting friends from the front porch, and the smells of morning pastry floating from the kitchen. The sun has only graced us for two hours, but the hustle of cooking for multiple meals, final touches on table decorations, and last minute cleaning is well underway. We love Thanksgiving Day because we get to host the event – which means family will be arriving soon, bringing with them the laughter, love and fun that defines the day.
The kids arrive early, an unusual phenomenon under ordinary circumstances, but common for the holidays. The dogs go crazy, jumping in circles and barking as if they had not seen our children in decades, while in reality it has only been a few days. Dogs know when fun is at hand – that’s why they are referred to as, “our best friend.” I am in the kitchen preparing the turkey, checking on appetizers, cutting vegetables while my wife finalizes which side dish will go into which bowl or platter. The uncles arrive, a brother-in-law, several cousins and a friend of my daughter I have only met once. The day is in full swing: board games in the living room, football in the family room, food everywhere; croquet in the back yard, and an eight-ball pool game in the sun room. Laughter erupts spontaneously and every room downstairs is filled with family, friends and joyful noise. I am in the kitchen preparing three dishes at a time, and feeling truly thankful and very happy that I can.
Looking through the bay windows from our kitchen into the cul-de-sac butting up to our backyard, I can see people leaving the Jackson’s house. Bill and Barb Jackson are nice enough people, but they seem to be only skin deep when you talk to them. If we see them at the grocery store we might get a quick hello, but not usually. I know why their Thanksgiving celebration is breaking up at 4:00 pm. It’s because the kids have been playing hand held video games in the living room, Bill was watching football games in the family room, (he does not like to be disturbed while watching football), Barb is talking with her sister in the kitchen about Bill, and Jack (barb’s brother-in-law) is smoking alone in the backyard. The Jackson’s may have gathered for a meal, but they were never together. Everyone in the house was bored and wanting to leave, except for Bill and Barb, they wanted to be alone. They have squandered the lessons of family and Thanksgiving: you cannot have a Thanksgiving celebration in a house; it can only take place in a home.
A house is made of wood, stucco, or steel; a home is a mixture of family and friends who want to be together, who will enjoy each other’s company, and who will join with a mindset of love, honor and respect. A home is someplace that you want to be, because it brings you and your loved ones joy. Our home could be in the parking lot of a department store, it is only a coincidence that we are in a house, because it is the people and the love they share that make a home – not the walls and roof.
The people who are part of the home must pledge to be an arbiter of peace, and incubator for love, and to create the safest place on earth. In the home we forgive eagerly and completely, and we insist others should be ahead of ourselves, knowing that to truly lead we must first follow. And most importantly, we are not delusional in thinking that making and keeping a home is easy; it is not. It requires dedication and willpower. Fortunately, when I am getting burned out and in need – I know where to turn……
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Welcome somebody home today.
Thanks for reading.