Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Another Mother’s Nathan

If you haven’t yet read yesterday's post, you might want to do that first because reading this entry won’t make much sense without it.

So.  I’m assuming you would love for me to tell you just who our Very Special Thanksgiving Mystery Dinner Guests were?

Our Guests were eight men from Outer Banks Dare Challenge,  a local drug and alcohol rehab center housing guys who have been off alcohol or drugs for just a few days or weeks. We figured that on Thanksgiving, those men would not only be missing their families but also missing a homey setting in which to celebrate Thanksgiving.

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And so when we extended the invitation, we were thrilled when the Director of the Center (the guy standing in the white jacket) said the guys could come and spend the afternoon with us.  (Note:  We got permission from all the guys to  take—and post--these photos.)

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Our goal was to pull out all the stops and make these men feel extra valued; hence, the table done up in a lovely fashion with a lot of extra special touches. I can’t begin to tell you how incredibly appreciative, well mannered and fun they were to be with.

When we went around the table and asked what each of them was thankful for, one of them said how nice it was to be treated like a regular person and not like a drug addict.

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Another man said that even though they’d had several Thanksgiving meals at churches during the week, this one was the best because they were in a real home and they all missed that. 

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And later on, another man told us that he would never, ever forget this day.

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And this woman?  She didn’t seem to have a lot to say.   I guess maybe she’s just not used to being around cameras a lot. (Yeah, right.)

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The menu featured turkey, ham, sweet potato casserole, marinated green beans with Romano cheese, broccoli salad, yeast rolls, homemade stuffing, homemade chunky applesauce,  potatoes and gravy, a huge relish tray and four kinds of dessert.  And boy oh boy, could those guys ever eat!  It made my mama heart happy to see them enjoy every single bite.

After the meal was over, we took ourselves out into the beautiful Carolina sunshine for some horseshoes and badminton.   Sarah was right in the thick of it—friendly, cheery and a temporarily adopted little sister for all these guys who were far from their homes and far from their own families.

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We saw some pretty amazing sporty/dance moves take place throughout the afternoon.

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Sarah got some coaching from one of the guys . . .

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. . .  and left the badminton game with a lot more badminton knowledge than she’d had going in.

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From badminton playing, she moved over to stand with her grandpa and watch the guys play horseshoes.

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The day was filled with good conversation . . .

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. . . and good “hanging out” time.

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And when our eight new friends had driven away,they left behind a glow that filled our home.

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They also left behind a pile of place cards, with each of their names representing a special person who touched our hearts and made our Thanksgiving memorable.  (And to help them remember the day even better, I’m going to put all the pictures I took that day on a CD and make copies to give to each of the fellas.  Since Steve goes out there every Thursday to teach--and also takes a guy to lunch each week--he can be the Memories On CD delivery person.)

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I want to close by providing a little extra background as to why we decided to host this meal. While I can’t speak for Steve, the meal was important for me because it gave me a chance to do something at Thanksgiving for someone else’s son.

I knew that most of those men at our table had a mother somewhere in this country who had set a Thanksgiving table, even as a part of her heart had mourned the fact that the son she loved wasn’t able to be there, that he wasn’t going to get to be in a real home for a real family Thanksgiving. 

And so, since I didn’t have my own son to cook for this Thanksgiving, this was my year to pay it forward, to pay it back, to pay it in whatever direction I could find.  In short, this was my Thanksgiving to cook for another mother’s Nathan, in the hopes that when she heard the story of where her son had spent Thanksgiving, she would feel her load lighten a little and she could breathe a prayer of thanks that the son she loved so much had received the love she wasn’t able to give in person.

There all sorts of reasons that mothers sat at Thanksgiving tables this year without the presence of the children they loved.  Some kids have faraway jobs, some have insufficient finances to travel, some have no time off work, some are away in the military, and some might even possibly be in a drug and alcohol rehab center.  And since I’m a long time member of the cancer community, I also know that some of the seats at Thanksgiving tables were empty this year because of the saddest reason of all--a son or daughter didn’t survive their battle with cancer.

There are so very many reasons that people we love go missing from our holiday tables.  And that gives us so many more reasons to show acceptance and love to the people we have nearby.  Because somewhere, they are being missed.  Somewhere, another mother’s Nathan is wishing that her child could be home. 

And last Friday, at 1 pm?   Her son was at home.  At our home.

And for that, I am thankful. 



44 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Gail Puckett said...

Becky, what a wonderful and giving way to celebrate Thanksgiving. I feel sure that you got blessed as much as they did. God bless you, your family and your wonderful giving heart.

LeeAnne said...

That's awesome, Becky! Way to go Smith clan!!!

Anonymous said...

Amazing becky, steve, sarah, grandma and grandpa, and snowy, what an amazing day you provided for these young men. To be a part of such a loving household is surely more than they could have hoped for. What a wonderful thanksgiving.

Nancy Irving
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Anonymous said...

Great post, Bec. As usual.


Anonymous said...

Wow, what a wonderful way to celebrate THANKSgiving. Thanks for sharing your family and home and with us.

Anonymous said...

You are awesome. I am proud to say I know you throught this site. May God continue to shower you and your family with many blessings.
Hugs from Iowa,

TiffanyH said...

That is such a great idea!! I love that they were able to come to your home, and share with you... so many times, around here, we are only allowed to go and help, not to have the people who need it at our house... Awesome!!

Anonymous said...

Awesome! What a generous and touching thing you did for these men! Blessings to you! :)

Anonymous said...

Your family never ceases to amaze me. What an amazing thing to for eight other mothers.

Mel - Canada

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow! that had to be the "bestest" Thanksgiving ever!!!

How wonderful for those young men to have your fantastic family showing them that you believe in them and their ability to overcome their addictions.

mrs pam

Anonymous said...

Becky, this was a truly wonderful thing that you and your family worked so hard to do for these men. We had tried for years to get our son to go into a recovery program and he finally did in August. When he found out that he would not be able to have company on Thanksgiving Day he started pressuring us to let him come back home. Being the softies that we are he is now back home and quickly on his way back to living his life just like he did before. Maybe if we had known he would have a wonderful family such as yours to spend time and fellowship with we would have been able to stand firm and not let him back home until he completed the program. I believe God placed you in these men's lives right when they needed you.

Anonymous said...

** to do for

Mel - Canada

Colleen said...

I was really touched by this. What an amazing thing to open your home to those 8 men and welcome them for a Thanksgiving meal.
Thanks for sharing the story & the photos.

The Pennington Point said...

Oh Becky, this post has me weeping. Showing the love of Christ on any day is beautiful. But taking the pressure off for these guys on a holiday is such a wonderful blessing and goes beyond anything I would have thought of. I don't know why I can't stop crying....I guess it was the part where you talk about their mothers and those that have lost a child this year. I have a friend that lost her son to drugs last spring and it breaks my heart to think of her at the table without him. Blessings my friend! Lisa~

Anonymous said...

Lovely post - my favorite in a while! Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing your Thanksgiving with us.


Deb said...

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. There is no pressure of gifts or expectations. When my son was in the Marine Corps, I felt that void at the table and one by one each of my six children had to miss a Thanksgiving...my heart was sad. We always welcome someone who has no place to go, but I knew there were others out there and my heart rests now that I know at least 8 others were blessed this year! Thanks for your giving but you and I both know, we are the blessed ones!

Anonymous said...

well, you just made ME cry. Yep, there are a lot of grateful mamas out there because of you and others like you, who always make sure to set an extra spot or eight at the table on Thanksgiving Day. I feel sure that none of those men will forget it. And you, in hosting "the least of these", most certainly entertained a King unawares.... xoxox...

Angie said...

One of the best things I've read and seen in a long time - thanks!

Anonymous said...

What I will remember most from this post is the smiles I see in the photos. What I expect these men will remember is the warmth and acceptance, along with a wonderful meal. Thank you for making my heart so happy!

Cindy from Sonoma

Karo said...

I have to say, this is one of my favorite posts ever.

Marshmallow Woman said...

Thank you Becky, this wonderful post will make me go to bed with a smile tonight. :)


Lib (WS) said...

Bless Your Hearts!!!!!

Karen said...

This gave me goose bumps! Wonderful Thanksgiving story!

Jan R. said...


You are the kind of mother that I hope to be.

In the Jewish faith we talk of a good man being a "Mensch" which is a person of integrity or honor. A mensch is a person like you Becky. Even though you aren't a man ... you are a person of integrity and honor and I am honored to know you ... even if it's not IRL.

You and Steve and the rest of the Smith family are incredible. Thank you for sharing yourselves with the men who needed you ... the sons of the moms who needed you and thank you for letting all of us know about it.

I hope you know how much you mean to all of us!


Jenna said...

Reply |Jenna Hoff
show details 5:32 PM (0 minutes ago)

Wow- that made me cry. What a moving post- and what an incredibly
kind and loving thing for your family to do. I am continuously amazed and impressed by how your family so often thinks of others and reaches out to people who might be hurting. I really believe that your family is a wonderful example of sharing Christ's love by looking
outside of your own comfort zones to truly make a difference in
other's lives.

becky m said...

That made me teary, you guys do such amazing things. I hope that the dinner was a thing these men can take and use to keep their progress moving forward. It is hard to overcome addictions no matter what they are. What you did was not only amazing for those guys but also for you.

Margie said...

What a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving. When the naval base was open here some of us took turns inviting a few sailors for Thanksgiving & Christmas dinner. It really helped make the days extra special.

Anonymous said...

Proud of you all--great job!

Love deb

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Just beautiful. You are one of the few people I "know" that truly inspires me to be a better person. A better wife, mother and friend. A better stranger. For this, I thank you.

So many people decide to serve meal on a soup kitchen for Thanksgiving or a similar act. While it is nice to give any way you can what you have done is just so open and from the heart. I hope one day I get to really meet the Smiths. I think people that do are richer for the experience.

Lisa from NJ

Debbie said...

Back when we lived in Charleston SC, before the government closed down the Charleston Naval Base, we would invite some of the navy men, who couldn't get back home for Thanksgiving. I got more out of it than they did, I am sure. It's a nice thing you did Becky, and reminded me of past years, when I had better health and wealth. I am sure those men so appreciated a wonderful meal in your home. It made me shed a few tears. My son and his wife and lil boy, was here with me, at my table, and I was so grateful. Thank you so much for sharing this post with us. It too was a favorite for me.

God Bless~

Linda said...

What a beautiful post. The Smith's not only teach the good word; they actually live it each day. Such a touching example of fellowship and the true meaning of Thanksgiving!

This post was worth waiting for. Sorry I raised my voice (in print)yesterday!

Much love from Ohio,

Jen said...

I am in tears reading this post. My sister was not home for Thanksgiving this year because she is in treatment. Although we know this is the best place for her, I spent the morning in tears and just miss her so much. We hold on to the fact that there will be many more thanksgivings to come and we are very fortunate that their is hope in our family. Giving hope to those who are struggling is quite a blessing. Happy Thanksgiving.

Unknown said...

This made me cry! It is a great idea and something I hope to do for someone!

Anonymous said...

I am a loyal reader but I am choosing to post anonymous today. I spent six weeks in a fabulous rehab program and am so happy to be healthy, whole and in recovery. I hope one day to be able to share as you did with someone at the beginning of their new life.

Sam said...

What a wonderful thing your family did for these guys! My husband was in Teen Challenge 12 years ago on Thanksgiving day. I am happy to say that he is 12 years clean now! It was the hardest thing in the world for us when he was gone...but God did a tremendous thing for both of us while he was there! My brother in law was at Dare challenge around the same time.

Thank you for posting this!

Sam Gleason
Julian, NC

LizW said...

Becky, you truly embodied the spirit of Thanksgiving. What memories the young men will have, and hopefully, they will stay strong in their determination to be clean. I loved reading about your day.

Karen C said...

I have chill bumps like crazy, not to mention misty eyes. What a sweet, loving thing to do. It's another example that no matter our denominational differences, it all comes down to believing in Jesus Christ and going out and doing as Jesus would do. This ministry by Steve, and your ministry at Thanksgiving, to this special group, just makes my holiday season!

Anonymous said...

How wonderful! Grabbing tissues now.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful thing to do! Your family is such a blessing to so many.

Debbie Taylor

Ann Martin said...

What a wonderful day you gave those guys and your family, too. God has used you and Steve in so many wonderful ways. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

Rachel said...

I just finished reading about your special Thanksgiving dinner and had to wipe the tears from my eyes. As human beings I'm sure that every single one of us have had moments in our lives when things were not going perferctly. When we've wished our lives could be different in some way. I know it had to have taken an incredible amount of courage for those men to step up and admit that they needed help. So happy that they're taking the step to make their lives, and in turn the lives of those around them, better. And I'm so thankful that there are people in the world like your family who are willing to share love and comfort through the journey.

My prayers with each and every one of them!

MaryH said...

Becky, I finally had a chance to read this post - absolutely amazing and beautiful - there are tears in my eyes - there were some empty chairs at our table this year but some were filled with new people also - you expressed the message I had in my heart perfectly. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

How beautiful. This has inspired me to want to find a way to do something similar in my town next year. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has been in a rehab/treatment program for major holidays, reading this brought me to tears! It is SO hard to be alone for the holidays, especially when you're working through a bunch of stuff, too, and knowing that there are people like you guys out there who are willing to show Christ's love to those people is amazing. I have been blessed to not sit alone on 2 Thanksgivings and going on 2 Christmases, and it's because of how generous and caring people are to those who are hurting and alone. Thank you so much for doing this! I KNOW that they will never, EVER forget this.