One of my responsibilities at home is to carry boxes of books up and down from the basement of our apartment building. It is a regular thing — a seasonal chore.
My bride, you see, has organized our family’s extensive collection of children’s books according to the holidays. So, when instructed, I head downstairs to find “the Christmas book box” or “the Easter book box.” A couple of days ago, I hauled out the Halloween-and-Thanksgiving box.
On top was one of my favorite picture books, Thanksgiving at the Tappletons. The Tappletons are a family of wolves. They are gathering for a traditional Thanksgiving feast, and each member of the family (from Grandfather Tappleton to little Jenny Tappleton) is responsible for some part of the family meal.
To great comic effect (I have a low laughter threshold) each Tappleton has some sort of major mishap in preparing his or her assigned food. Jenny’s mashed potatoes go flying around the kitchen when she turns the mixer on too high. The bakery is sold out when Mr. Tappleton goes to pick up the apple pies. The turkey slips from Mrs. Tappleton’s grip, slides out the back door, down a hill and into a pond. Blub. Blub. It vanishes from sight.
As the mishaps occur, each person decides not to tell the rest of the family, assuming their contribution will not be missed when the rest of the feast is on the table.
So of course, when they all sit down to eat, it is a bare table. One after another, they confess the various calamities. No food. No feast! Uncle Fritz’s stomach growls, and little Kenny sighs, “There’s nothing to say a prayer for.”
“Nonsense,” responds Grandmother Tappleton, “there’s always something to say a prayer for.”
And so she prays:
Turkeys come and turkeys go
And trimmings can be lost, we know.
But we’re together; that’s what matters
Not what’s served upon the platters.
Then they dine on cheese sandwiches and pickles and canned applesauce. They feast on the bounty of family and laughter and life itself. It is a most amazing banquet.
This Sunday, we are going to turn our attention to a Psalm of Thanksgiving — Psalm 116. Together, we are going to explore the possibility that Grandmother Tappleton was right: “There’s always something to say a prayer for.”