We celebrated Thanksgiving this past Sunday at Kip and Becky’s. It gets harder every year to find a time when the family can all be together. With two firefighter schedules plus others in the family who work, it becomes a juggling act to come up with a date. And we’ve already chosen January 3 and 4 for our Christmas.
But we were together, and for that I am most grateful. Yes, we miss those that are gone. But that has nothing to do with the fire department. All across this nation there will be empty chairs around the Thanksgiving table no matter when or where it is celebrated.
Some chairs are empty because duty prevents the presence of one who would normally fill the spot. Soldiers, Firefighters, Policemen, doctors, nurses, farmers, ranchers, waitresses, cooks, housekeeping personnel, and the list goes on.
Some are empty and will never again be filled because they’ve given their lives to protect others.
Some are empty because of old age, or illnesses, or accidents, etc..
And some are empty because they were never filled, those who were lost before they were born.
Thanksgiving is not just one day of celebration. It is a choice we make, regardless of the circumstances. It is a lifestyle—Thanks-living!
But may we never forget that while we rejoice with those who rejoice, we are also to mourn with those who mourn.
Some people have a custom of setting a plate on the table for the unseen guest.
This year, why not place an empty chair in the room.
Thank God if the chair you place is only a symbol.
Pray for those for whom it represents so much more.
Life at the Bottom!!
Nothing quite so mundane as spending one’s life at the bottom of a sink.!! But I don’t have a dishwasher ( gasp!), so this is who greets me after each meal I actually cook. I say ‘who’, and give her a gender, because to me she’s much more than a kitchen gadget. She’s taught me so much. Really, she has:
1. She’s there every day to fulfill the job for which she was created.
2. She doesn’t whine about being on the bottom.
3. No matter what sharp thing is thrown against her, she remains steadfast.
4. Steadfast, even though someone else’s garbage is placed on her shoulders
5. Steadfast, no matter how hot the water.
6. Never tries to overthrow that which is placed on her, in order to rise to the top.
7. She allows the abuse because she knows when it is over, she will be cleansed.
8. Yet, even after the cleansing, she’s willing to go back to her position at the bottom
9. Because she knows that’s where she’s needed most.
10. All this, without one word of complaint that she is ONLY …
I can’t fail to mention she was a gift. See the connection?
I should be so willing.
Her shoulders slumped. “Oh, Storm—the same kind a son ya been since the day ya was borned. Stubborn. Hot-headed. Always lookin’ for what was beyond the next hill. Ya walked away from here ten years ago and ya ain’t never come back ‘til now. Then ya come ridin’ in with that gang of hoodlums tellin’ me I gotta get off this here land.”
It’s Not All Work!
Because they live together 24 hours at a time, firefighters become very much family. And in each family there is a certain amount of tomfoolery that occurs. Imagine a household of four or five boys, and then multiply the mischief by lots of ten because these are no longer boys, but grown men.
Like family, most of the rowdiness occurred when the Chiefs weren’t there. So Bob questioned the fact his Chief hung around one evening, and even sat down at the table with them for their evening meal, which happened to be pancakes.
Bob’s first bite of pancake was uneventful. But when he tried to cut a second bite his question was answered. The chef for the evening had put a milk strainer in Bob’s pancake. Of course, his attempt to cut the second bite was thwarted…but it took a bit of ‘sawing’ for him to realize what they’d done.
I don’t know how many of you know what a milk strainer is. It’s not unlike a coffee filter, though more fiber dense. That’s how Bob felt–a bit dense. But it was good for a laugh–and still is.
For the past several years, the Newton Fire Department has hosted a special luncheon for the retired firefighters and ambulance personnel. It’s a great time of reflection, of remembering members who have gone before them, exclaiming over how things have changed.
Most of all, it’s a grand time of recounting stories like this over and over again, and laughing as though they were hearing them for the first time.
It’s the brotherhood.
And it’s what got them through the times they don’t want to to remember.