Why Thanksgiving Matters – by Lisa M. Scuderi-Burkimsher

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the abundant amount of food we eat on Thanksgiving. In fact, I look forward to it every year. It’s one of my favorite holidays. But it’s more than just the food.

There are two reasons why Thanksgiving matters to me. The first reason begins when I was a child, we spent every Thanksgiving at my grandparents house in Brooklyn. My Sicilian grandmother barely spoke English and my grandfather had always been a quiet man; however, once the whole family with cousins, Aunts and Uncles were in the room, it had been a festive event of chortling and great food in a tiny apartment with one bathroom and approximately twenty-five of us. 

My grandmother would start with the Italian dishes. She cooked fresh tomato sauce and the delicious aroma filled the room. The meatballs were made with garlic and Romano cheese accompanied with Sweet Italian sausage, Italian meats and let me not forget the freshly baked Italian bread. That’s just the first course. Next, we’d have the Thanksgiving course with all the trimmings, and my favorite, raisin rice stuffing. Oh, how I still taste the sweetness of raisins on my tongue.

Wait, I’m not finished. After the dishes were done, the demitasse coffee was brewed, and the pastries placed nicely on the table displayed on fine china. I always enjoyed a nice sweet crunchy cannoli. What Italian doesn’t like cannoli. All that being said, that’s not the reason the holiday is so important to me. The reason is simple. Everyone gets tied up in everyday life, that we don’t get a chance to spend time together. Thanksgiving had been the first holiday of the year that we’d all be together. Family is what matters to me more than having a grand meal. But it’s when I became an adult that my second reason why Thanksgiving matters came about.

Every year the donations for the needy become more apparent. Sure, we receive constant mail asking “Feed the Hungry” or “Donate Now”. But it’s more urgent during the holiday season. One November I saw a canned food donation box in my library during the holiday season and decided to pitch in. I brought a can of tomato soup with me and dropped it in the box. Now, you’re probably saying to yourself or even out loud, that’s all. But it was the reaction from the librarian at the welcome desk that made my day. She gave me the warmest thank you and I thought to myself, “It was only one can”

Then I really took notice and there had been very few items in the bin. That day I realized what giving thanks was all about. I went home feeling content, knowing that the can of soup helped a hungry person or persons.

Throughout the year I mail in donations sporadically, but it’s Thanksgiving season when I do more. Even if my donation is a minimal amount, it still makes a difference. I recently started sending in small donations to Operation Smile. Hopefully by Thanksgiving a child will have went from a cleft lip to a radiant smile.

I’m looking forward to spending time with family and thinking about how I’m helping someone out there have a happy day. Thanksgiving isn’t just about turkey and stuffing, it’s about family and helping those in need, knowing you made a difference.

I sincerely hope I did make a difference for someone.
Happy Thanksgiving.

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