Celebrating and Sharing Abundance at Thanksgiving Tables and Worldwide!
My family tradition for Thanksgiving was, like many others, built around a spectacular communal meal. At least 15 members of my extended family would gather around the oval oak dining room table with the extra leafs inserted. Extra chairs and stools were pulled out from storage and the large blue tablecloth laid out.
My Dad always slipped us pieces of crisp turkey skin before dinner and I’d manage sneak a bite of my grandma’s homemade rolls. The smells and tastes still spark memories today
As we got older, my sisters and I would invite friends and colleagues over who didn’t have a place to go, many still talk about how grateful they were for the warm hospitality. There was always plenty of room at the table.
Before our meal, we’d all hold hands and stand in a circle and share what we were thankful for. Cheesy and awkward perhaps for a middle schooler, it was a reminder of the abundance in our lives and the need to be mindful of the needs of those not around our table.
We know the history of our first American Thanksgiving is not as idyllic as we were taught in school. Yet, the spirit of the holiday continues. For me, it’s built around a spirit of gratitude, gifts of love, and abundance to be shared with others.
In my work with Episcopal Relief & Development, my gratitude abounds for the talent, time, treasure and commitment of so many that are part of our rich, dynamic community. These include our local Anglican partners and their staff in nearly 40 countries who accompany our staff to transform communities, provide hope, and relieve suffering through our programming. They are our boots on the ground.
It includes our tens of thousands of volunteers globally who facilitate and support our programs as community health workers who provide training on disease prevention and other health messages, and our saving groups facilitators worldwide who help families lift themselves out of poverty and start small businesses.
In the US our community includes hundreds of volunteers as well. Our diocesan coordinators and parish representatives share the good work across The Episcopal Church and our Disaster Diocesan Coordinators serve as point persons on disaster preparedness and response in times of crisis. Our Episcopal Relief & Development staff members and board of directors contribute to sharing abundance through individual gifts and talents that help this organization operate.
And, last but not least, our community includes our thousand of generous supporters and donors: individuals, church based groups, foundations and corporations. Our work could not happen without the treasures that allow us to do our critical work to address global poverty, alleviate hunger, and fight disease. I’m always grateful for what these gifts do to transform lives globally, and in the process transform our own hearts.
If our entire community were at a Thanksgiving table, it would be overflowing and the circle would extend as far as the eye could see! I can hear laughter and stories and see a diversity of faces representing what makes our work and community unique and quite spectacular.
Thank you for being part of our rich, abundant community. Now, I’ll pass grandma’s rolls.
Joy Shigaki is Senior Director for Advancement at Episcopal Relief & Development
Images: Top, Families holding hands in Zambia. Middle 1, Mobile health clinic in El Salvador. Middle 2, Savings group in Kenya. Middle 3, Diocesan volunteers for Hurricane Sandy Relief. Last, Dinner rolls for sharing.
Healing the world starts with your story!
During the 75th Anniversary Celebration, we are sharing 75 stories over 75 weeks – illustrating how lives are transformed through the shared abundance of our partners and friends like you! We invite you to join us in inspiring our vibrant community by sharing your own story!