Every year, I’ve associated this charitable tradition – delivering turkey dinners on Thanksgiving Day for those in the Capital District who need them – as one of the most important and charitable functions I can undertake each year.
And as much as I feel good about this holiday every year…
Sometimes I get the feeling that there are people who actually think less of me for doing this.
Two years ago, someone commented that my blogging about participating in the Equinox Thanksgiving Day turkey deliveries was making me boastful and prideful, as if my doing this was less about the charity and more about myself. Nice to know that someone can quote Scripture to emphasize that I’m a worthless glory-hound. Thanks a pantload.
And last year, after I rescued a shivering dog from a frozen car, I was ripped to bits on the social media site reddit for my efforts. Remember how I’ve said in the past that I have a love-hate relationship with reddit? This example certainly does not fall under the category of “love.”
Maybe, instead of worrying about what other people think of me for doing this… I need to remind myself why I do this in the first place.
And I think that the seeds of participating in this tradition actually began in 1978. I blogged about that autumn, when I lived with my biological father and his third wife for about four months in the Chestnut Prison. I somehow got out of there, and before I went back to Albany, I spent Thanksgiving with my Grandma Betty before returning to the Capital District. She hadn’t planned to feed an extra mouth that evening, but somehow there was more than enough turkey and trimmings to go around.
And even in those terrible, lonely moments when I felt like nobody cared or nobody wanted me around… I was still able to find a way to share the holiday of “giving thanks” with someone. Anyone. Sometimes it involved spending the holidays by myself on the frozen wintry Hamilton College campus… sometimes I ended up sharing a pizza with the only other student on campus.
This is part of what I do. I get up at God-knows-what-time in the morning, and I traipse off to the Empire State Plaza. I wait in line until the turkey dinners are ready for shipping. And from that moment forward, I make sure that I deliver the dinners that I am assigned.
I do this in memory and in honor of those who provided kindnesses to me when I felt sad and lonely and useless. I don’t do this out of some grandiose chest-pounding “Hey look at me” endeavor. I do this for one reason and one reason only – because no one should spend Thanksgiving without family and friends and food and faith.
And the reward of doing this? A simple “thank you” from the recipient is more than enough for me. More than enough. And in the end, that’s all that truly matters.
If you see me at the Empire State Plaza in the waiting line, feel free to come over and say hi. I’ll be the paunchy guy with the goatee and the Albany Patroons jacket.