Years ago when my husband Charles was on dialysis and having so many health-related, life-threatening medical complications, it seemed that we careened along from crisis to crisis. One of those years he was hospitalized as an in-patient at St. Joseph Hospital following an emergency surgery and was not going to be discharged until sometime after Thanksgiving.
I arrived home from the hospital late one night just a couple of days before Thanksgiving and there was a phone message from a stranger on our answering machine (we didn’t have voicemail or Caller ID then).
The young woman and her siblings wanted to come over – right then. She insisted it was urgent and would only take a few minutes. She wanted me to call back as soon as I arrived home, no matter what time it was. I was both exhausted and hesitant, but she sounded so sweet and upbeat, I returned her call.
She explained that their family anonymously adopts a family each year for Thanksgiving. She seemed to know that Charles was hospitalized and we were having a difficult time. She said they could be at our apartment in a matter of minutes and indeed they were. It was four or five young adults who were all brothers and sisters; this tradition of theirs is something they had grown up doing.
They arrived in several vehicles and formed a bucket brigade to haul in bag after bag, and box after box of every type of grocery item anyone could ever imagine including a turkey to roast and all of the trimmings to go with it.
Additionally, they presented me with a wreath for our door as an expression of hope and encouragement that things would get better. It was so humbling and overwhelming to be on the receiving end of so much love and generosity, I will never forget it.
They filled our refrigerator, freezer, and pantry so full we didn’t need to buy groceries for months afterward.
When Charles was able to come home from the hospital the week after Thanksgiving, we had one of the most memorable Thanksgiving celebrations ever.
We vowed then that in the years ahead when we were able to do so, we would adopt their family’s tradition as our own and bestow those blessings on another family anonymously as they had done for us.
We will never forget Thanksgiving from that year.
Please know that whether you give a jar of peanut butter to a food bank or a whole shopping cart full of groceries to a family in need, they will always remember it and be grateful that you cared. Those needs exist daily, not just during the holidays and 'season of giving.'