For many of us, we use Thanksgiving as a day to be thankful for a bountiful dinner complete with all the family side dishes that have been passed down through the generations. We are thankful for relatives who travel “over the river and through the woods” to join us, and we are thankful for long evenings spent digesting and reminiscing with our loved ones.
At A Kid’s Place we are thankful for donors who share monetary gifts so that we may provide programs for the children in our care. We are thankful for volunteers who give of their time so that our children may enjoy a library, pantry, and donation room stocked with gifts from community supporters. Most of all, we are thankful for the many people who do what they can to make a difference in the lives of foster children, shining their lights and giving hearts to make a child’s world a little brighter.
For children in foster care, thankfulness can mean a lot of different things. For eight year old Adam, his single mother had always worked on Thanksgiving day, waiting tables at a local cafe while Adam napped on a discarded booth seat in the back. “I am thankful for Mr. Barrone, who always brought me pasta from his restaurant on Thanksgiving. He would meet me at the back of the cafe and sneak in Italian food for my dinner, which he said was traditional but not in America. By the time my mom finished her shift, we would go home and she would fall asleep, but I was full because of Mr. Barrone.”
When we asked three year old Ewan what he was thankful for, he summed it up succinctly; “I am thankful that no one hits me anymore.”
This year, our children are part of the celebration from start to finish. Connie is in charge of dressing the turkeys, rubbing butter on the skin and placing sprigs of Rosemary and slices of lemon and orange into the bird. “I’ve never touched a raw turkey before!” she cringed as she rubbed the butter with her hands. For some reason, this sent her into fits of giggles and the other kids soon ambled into the kitchen to see what she was up to. Another group of kids moved tables, placed tablecloths and centerpieces, and arranged silverware onto the place settings. Many hands make for light work, and happy hearts make for celebrations that will be remembered long after the child moves on from A Kid’s Place.
Thankfulness is relative, and we all have the ability to be thankful for things both big and small. Feeling safe, or celebrating an unorthodox tradition that is nonetheless your own, is cause for great thankfulness. At A Kid’s Place, we are thankful for our donors and supporters, who know that “nobody hitting me” is why we come to work every day.