LIFE'S BETTER IN THE MOUNTAINS

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's About More than a Turkey

Every now and then something happens that fills you with such joy you have to share the story with others. This is one such story.

Beginning November 1, all food purchases at our local grocery store accumulate "turkey points." If you have sufficient points by Thanksgiving, you receive a free 12-14 pound Butterball Turkey. I always receive the points, but I never need the turkey. Since we aren't having guests, we will grill a fresh turkey breast. Nonetheless, I pick out my free turkey and give it to a neighbor or to the church.

On Monday, I did some grocery shopping, picked out my turkey and got in the queue to pay. A woman in her mid-forties was in line in front of me. She was in jeans and sweatshirt (like most of us) and was well-groomed. There was nothing in her demeanor to suggest she was in need.


But some inner voice prompted me to speak. "Pardon me, but do you know anyone who might be able to use a turkey? I have one of the free Butterballs, and I won't be able to use it."


The woman looked at me with such surprise that at first I feared I might have offended her. Then she asked, "Are you serious?" I responded that I was, and a tear slowly came down her cheek. While we waited in line, she told me her story. She is a single mother with three children and had recently come on hard times.

"You have been sent by an angel! I told my three children this morning that we didn't have enough points for a turkey, and I didn't have the money to buy one, so we wouldn't be having turkey this Thanksgiving.

You see...my mother had cancer and this summer I had to quit my job to take care of her. I had to apply for food stamps for the first time in my life. I've never taken charity in my life."

The story poured out of her as if she had been needing to tell it for a long time. She went on,

"Mom died last month and it has been really hard. I haven't been able to find another job and this has been so hard for my kids. They try to keep a stiff upper lip, but I overhead my son telling his sister that it just won't be Thanksgiving without a turkey. I told him we could go to the Methodist Church for a turkey dinner. He told me Thanksgiving was for families and we are a family and we should have Thanksgiving dinner together at home, turkey or no turkey. Then he said, 'That's what Grandma would have wanted.'

Now you have miraculously filled my dream...to have a turkey for our very own Thanksgiving dinner. May God bless you over and over for what you have done for me and my family."

By now, everyone in the checkout line was listening intently to the story even though she had been speaking softly. The man behind me in line pulled out his wallet, handed her a large bill and told her to get anything else she might need for the Thanksgiving dinner. Several other people (including myself) did the same. The cashier told her, "Don't worry, honey. I'll put your turkey aside. You go get what you need."

When she protested that this was too much money and she couldn't accept it, the cashier said, "You're gonna need some for Christmas."

The woman was sobbing by this time, and hugging everyone in the checkout line. She looked at me through the tears and said, "You may not know it, but you are an angel. I know God sent you here today. I promise that when I get back on my feet, I'll do something like this for someone else."

Such a simple thing. A free turkey that I did not need suddenly brought a group of strangers together to help a woman temporarily down on her luck. I left the store feeling quite humbled and with a much lighter step. For this family, on this Thanksgiving Day, life will be back to normal. Those three children will enjoy a real Thanksgiving feast, together as a family.




And so, it really is about more than a turkey. This turkey represented hope for this woman, in a time of grief and pain. I feel blessed to have played a small role.

HAVE A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING!!!

29 comments:

Dog_geek said...

Caroline, what an amazing story! I have tears in my eyes just reading it. (Luckily no one else is at work today!) I have no doubt that she will remember this Thanksgiving miracle for the rest of her life, and that she will pay it forward. Probably everyone in that line has been changed for the better. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Ruth said...

What a wonderful experience for all who were there at the store. All because you obeyed God's inner prompting.
I shall keep this story in my file of best blog reads (along with a box of tissues.)
You already have had a blessed Thanksgiving.

fishing guy said...

Carolyn: What an amazing story, I am so glad touch you to choose the right person to share your free turkey. What had meant so little to you proved a blessing to this family that will never be forgotten. It also touched me deeply.

Twisted Fencepost said...

How sweet of you to share this story with us.
It touched my heart.
At some time or another we are all in "need" of something.
And God will send an angel to tend to what it is that we need.

Cheryl said...

I have tears in my eyes....you are a warm and generous being.....and how kind that so many in the store helped......

You have restored my faith in human nature and for that I thank you......

Kallen305 said...

I too have tears in my eyes as I read this. What a wonderful story and goes to show the real meaning of what Thanksgiving should be. By sharing we show our gratitude.

Lynne said...

Ah, Carolyn, you have touched not only that woman and her family, but all of us out here who have read this. Your kindness had a ripple effect at the store- and beyond.

God bless you.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Carolyn, What an incredible story. It made me cry also. We ALL need to follow these hunches or feelings that pop into our heads.. Lots of times we just blow them off --but when we act on them, look what happens. You blessed someone today, and 'giving' people like you will always go out of your way to help others. God Bless You --Happy Thanksgiving.

Tina said...

Caroline,
Glad you chose to share this story with us. That was so nice of you and undoubtedly you have made another's world much brighter.

Toni said...

Carolyn bless you. I have tears running down my cheek right now. Beautiful story and one that needs to be told. thank you for this gift.

Cicero Sings said...

This is one of those things you read that happens to other people ... people you don't know. But to know someone ... wow. What a blessing for you, for her, for the others that were there and participated, for us who read!

George said...

What a beautiful story. We all have so much to be thankful for, but we usually don't give thanks for what we have. How great to be able to share what we have with those who have a need.

Happy Thanksgiving.

MicheleRF said...

Now I've read two wonderfully inspirational blog posts this evening. Thank you for sharing this moving experience and bless you for your infectious kindness.

LauraHinNJ said...

Good for you and lucky for this lady that you listened to your heart and reached out!

Stories like this fill my days as a social worker, but I still had tears to think of total strangers being so kind. I think any of us would be, if given the chance.

Helen said...

Thank-you for sharing that wonderful story. Often we have no idea how one small act of kindness can have such a huge impact on someone's life, and also on the people around you.

Cedar ... said...

Well I now I've got tears in my eyes too. What a wonderful story, I wish I'd been in that line to have given something too.

Jayne said...

Oh Carolyn... here I sit Thanksgiving morning with tears in my eyes. Indeed, it's about more than a turkey. What a wonderful story. God bless you for reminding us powerfully how much one person can make a difference.

Karen said...

Well, now you made me cry. Loved your story... really loved it. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Pam at Antique or Not said...

What a wonderful story! Thanks so much for sharing it...so appropriate for today!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rambling Woods said...

Oh my..you gave me chills...Wonderful and what good instincts you have. It was meant to be..

Mary said...

Caroline,

I came here from Ruth's blog and am so glad I did. I have tears in my eyes thinking of how your love and generosity provided this single mother with a blessings. I was a single mother for 17 years and was also blessed by an angel one Christmas.

May God bless you for following His voice and helping out the lady in the checkout line. She will remember your kindness and loving gesture all of her life.

What a blessing your post was to me today.

Mary

Hendersonville Epicurean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hendersonville Epicurean said...

This is such a great story, Carolyn. I've talked about it on my blog, Hendersonville Epicurean and included links back to the story.

Mary said...

Carolyn, you ARE an angel. I read this with a knot in my throat because so many people need angels like you today...

We should all be so generous when we can. If I were in that line, I would have joined you...

Hugs to you,
Mary

And, Happy Thanksgiving

NCmountainwoman said...

Thank you all for your comments. I hope this story makes us all commit to working harder to help those in need.

Laura said it so well, stories like this one fill her days as a social worker. So many people are on a desperate line of solvency and one crisis can push them into considerable need. We need to think of these people and help them.

Denise said...

And that is what Thanksgiving is all about, bless you a thousand times for sharing this story.

Arija said...

Thanks for a good cry so early in the morning.
God surely works in mysterious ways.

Kerri said...

Wow! It's taken me a few minutes to compose myself after reading this. What a touching story! Thank you for sharing this and for being so kind!! You have helped create a memory for that family that they will never forget!

Larry said...

Carolyn, I too am sitting here with tears in my eyes. I think we can all learn to follow our hearts and help others as we go through our day to day lives. I salute you for following yours and lifting our hearts in the process.

I feel that we will all be given more opportunities for these kinds of encounters in the months to come. I know that acts of kindness like yours are infectious to all those who witness them.

Have a wonderful holiday season.