An Extra Chair at My Thanksgiving Table

During the season of family gatherings, make room for those who can’t go home.

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Posted in , Nov 16, 2017

Thanksgiving family

I don’t have a huge extended family so in years past, holiday gatherings tended to be on the smaller side. But after our son entered the military that changed. We quickly learned how military families band together to look after each other’s loved ones. 

We discovered that many of those in the military aren’t able to travel home, especially in the first few years of service. Money is tight, and leave time isn’t long. So those of us who live close by get the blessing of precious new faces at family gatherings.

As that first Thanksgiving approached, I found myself filled with apprehension–not about having guests but whether those new additions would feel welcome and at home. I wanted the time they spent with us to be almost as good as if they’d been able to make it home. 

Our son brought home two young men that year. At first, they were extremely polite and respectful (like all Marines). But they soon loosened up and began to join in the silliness of games and story-telling that always enlivens our family get-togethers.

These two young men added so much to that family time. Our old stories took on new life, and we got to hear tales of their years growing up in a different place and different culture. They taught us new games, and we even added a couple of traditions. By the time we sat down to the meal and joined hands around the table to pray, it felt like they’d always been part of our family. 

Since then, even though our son no longer brings home displaced friends, we try to open our gathering to those who aren’t able to spend the holiday with family. God has shown us over and over again that our family encompasses so many more than just those related by blood and marriage.

So as this season of family gatherings begins, I encourage you to draw up an extra chair or two around the table and reach out to those who might otherwise be alone.

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