I was 22 years old and away from home on Thanksgiving.
It was during graduate school and I was studying in Mainz, West Germany.
On the actual day of Thanksgiving I was traveling with a group of international students to Berlin.
The German university employee who was leading our group knew it was Thanksgiving and knew that – for the Americans in the group – it was a special holiday.
She arranged for some snacks to help us mark the occasion.
To be clear, it wasn’t turkey and stuffing and cranberries and pumpkin pie.
It was more along the lines of pretzels and nuts.
But she tried.
This evening, as my family and I watched the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special, that scene came flooding back to my mind.
Poor Charlie Brown, strong-armed into inviting several friends to his house for Thanksgiving, was doing the best he could.
He wasn’t even going to be home for Thanksgiving dinner. He and his family were going to his grandmother’s.
So he, with the trusty assistance of Linus, Snoopy and Woodstock, prepared what he could – pretzels, popcorn, and toast.
It wasn’t what was expected.
At first, it wasn’t even appreciated.
But then, reason won out.
It wasn’t about the food after all.
It was about friends showing hospitality.
It was about gracious acceptance of honest efforts to show that hospitality.
As I prepare to share this year’s meal with my family, I am reminded of those pretzel sticks and nuts, laid out on a table in a hotel hallway in Berlin nearly thirty years ago.
Tomorrow we will partake of a more traditional fare.
But it won’t really be the food that makes the day.
It will be the gracious hospitality and fellowship offered and received.
For that, I am truly thankful.