Peanut… Peanut Butter…(Jelly)

Psalm 107:1

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday; it always has been, and I suspect it always will be. Please, Christmas lovers, I mean no disrespect. I know as soon as Halloween is done, you love to start hanging tinsel and humming “Oh Tannenbaum.” I just can’t steamroll over the day that highlights humility in favor of elaborate excess.  Perhaps my prejudice is based in the memory of Christmas being a bit stressful.  Children don’t always understand why there just isn’t enough money for a bicycle, even though all your other friends have one.  Often at Christmas, the parents grieve over what they can’t do for their children, as much as they wish they could.  The children learn not to ask, as much as they wish they could.  But Thanksgiving…Thanksgiving is laid back and happy….Family, food, and football, and lots of each.

My childhood recollections bring mental pictures of “the kids table,” casseroles galore, cans of red-gelatinous cranberry something-or-other, Mamaw’s pecan pie (made with ribbon-cane syrup), and at least one moderately scorched dish that we agreed to set out anyway because you never ever waste food.  After the meal, we all sprawled around the living room television, moaning and groaning and rubbing our bellies, waiting for the Dallas Cowboys to start.  For the next couple of hours, various ones in turn dozed off, yelled at the referee, or went back to the kitchen for “just one more bite of…” (fill in the blank). After the Cowboys beat their foe for the year, it was time for us boys to go outside and re-enact the game.  We chose up sides and played another football game for another hour.  All these memories make me wane nostalgic, but I think my favorite Thanksgiving memory is much more recent.


A few years ago, our family was in some challenging circumstances.  I had lost my job and was working at minimum wage as a security guard until our situation improved. Our daughters were in college, and our son was in junior high school.  There was a prevailing heaviness at that time that just kind of hung in the air.  My middle child, Alyssa, decided the remedy for this would be to change our focus.  We needed to serve those with less than we had.  I asked her what she had in mind, and she said she wanted to make up a load of sack lunches and take them down by the river, where the homeless crowd congregated.  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches should be used because it’s cheap and nutritious. Within an hour, she had organized an assembly line. We were constructing sack lunches, complete with PBJs, granola bars, fruit, and water bottles.  I don’t remember just how many we made up, but they filled the back seat of the car.

As a family, we drove down to the river, unloaded, and strategized; two teams, meet back here in an hour.  The approach was simple. We walked up with our box, asked people if they were hungry, offered them free food, and told them Jesus loved them.  Being a researcher and a people watcher, I took mental note of the varied reactions we received. Most  recipients were pleasant and courteous.  Some politely declined. Some asked if they could take an extra for a friend.  A couple of folks were rather miffed. “Just peanut butter?” One lady started crying because she hadn’t eaten that day and she didn’t have enough teeth to chew much of anything.  PBJs were just right for her.

As I write this conclusion, I find myself getting a bit misty-eyed.  I am thankful that in spite of all the bone-headed mistakes we as parents make (and you know you do), our children somehow survive and even thrive.  That Thanksgiving, I saw my children not caring what we had or did not have.  They were re-enacting the first Thanksgiving by approaching hungry strangers and sharing their food.  I am, indeed, a blessed man.


Published in: on November 21, 2017 at 4:17 am  Leave a Comment  

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