A Time to Give Thanks

by Leighton Cubbage

I have a friend whom I've known for most of life. We met in junior high, went through Clemson together, worked together, and remain friends to this day. A conversation with him is like visiting the past and, at the same time, laughing at the present.

Lately, when we eat lunch, we talk about every nuance of the football season. Today we had lunch together at our favorite meat-and-three. The restaurant serves food like our mothers in Sumter fed us, and we love it. Coming in, we both greeted our favorite waitress. When I asked her how she was doing she said, ”O.K.”

My friend and I were seated, and we were soon lost in one of our rambling discussions, full of dreams of Clemson’s near possibilities. It was just one of those lazy, Southern sunny days in the restaurant, with everyone smiling, speaking to each other, and looking forward to Thanksgiving. The world was happy.

Then the bombshell hit. Our waitress appeared at our table and said, simply, “I lost my husband on the 15th.”

My friend and I stood up. He hugged her as she told us the details. We found out that they had been married for 40 years. Comforting her seemed impossible, but we sure tried.

As we left, I watched my friend quietly slip a twenty dollar bill under his plate. We just looked at each other and were totally out of words. What could you do or say?

On my drive home, I began to think of the great Thanksgiving that we have planned. Our family will have a huge celebration this year. They don't know it yet, but I’m going to look each of them in the eye this year and specifically tell them I love them. Although the holiday will be joyful this year, I will not take for granted that my family and friends will always be there, and I will remember that others in our city are struggling during this joyful season.

Thanksgiving is named just right this year for me.

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