Chappy’s corner “A Leftover Thanks Giving”

When Billy’s family had their priest over for the Thanksgiving dinner, the priest arrived wearing his normal outfit including the clerical collar. Billy stared at that priest for the longest time, so Father O Mallory asked him, “do you know why I wear this special collar?” Billy nodded his head and said, “Yes, it is to keep fleas and ticks away for three months.”   Now Billy was glad to have Father O Mallory come for supper that day but when his mother asked Father O Mallory to say a table prayer, Billy became worried.  On Sunday the prayers went on and on and on, but to Billy’s delight the priest’s table prayer was short and sweet and everyone began to eat. In his surprise Billy told the priest, “You pray a lot shorter when you’re hungry.”


Giving thanks before we eat is a great custom to have and we see it done often in the Bible.  Jesus took five small loaves of bread and two tiny fish gave thanks for this meager amount and then had his disciples distributed it to over 5,000 people and all of them had more than enough. 


I suspect this week many folks will sit down to a meal and there will be more than enough to eat which means leftovers will be available later while watching a football game or some holiday special on television.   But does one give thanks for leftovers?  After all we already prayed over this food once, do we need to do it again?  


During our deployment, there were no leftovers on Thanksgiving Day but it wasn’t because there wasn’t enough food. The dining hall personnel served a wonderful holiday meal with a variety of meats, and all the extras one could imagine. It was great.  I had the added joy of joining a delegation of British and Afghanistan military at a special dinner in our dining hall that day. My responsibility at the meal was to share why we celebrate Thanksgiving. It was an interesting experience and one I will remember.  But what I remember most is that one of our smaller South Dakota units on another camp had nothing special that day. No special thanksgiving meal had been delivered to them.  But when I visited them a few days later for worship services they gave thanks for the meager meal they had on that day.  They even complimented one of their Soldiers on the fine job of making a somewhat holiday meal out of the bare items they had to eat.  They knew how to be grateful.  (Thankfully for Christmas our command made sure this small unit had plenty to eat and enjoy on that day, and for me it will always be a special Christmas memory as we enjoyed a meal, played some games and sang sacred songs during our worship service on that small outpost).


Giving thanks is an option. For some it is a tradition and personally I believe it’s a great tradition as we remember to thank the Lord for all God has given to us.  I especially thank the Lord for the gift of His Son, Jesus who sacrificed His life on the cross to give us everlasting life with God.  That alone is reason to thank God now and always.  God is a generous God who gives and gives and gives, and so we can thank and praise Him for everything including those tasty leftovers. 


Making a turkey sandwich later in the day is one of my Thanksgiving joys  It was one I missed out on  being deployed but now I can, and when I do indulge in leftovers I shall thank the Lord for it.  But hopefully I will also add a prayer for those not able to enjoy leftovers due to deployment, and in that prayer I pray that someday soon they too will be home and enjoy some leftovers with the ones they love.


That’s just my thoughts from this thankful SE corner of South Dakota!

CH (COL) David Gunderson

State Chaplain for SDARNG