As we prepare for Thanksgiving’s arrival, I thought it would be nice to issue a challenge. There is a lot of distress occurring around our country and world. There are very good reasons why we should be concerned about the future. These are true statements, but I would implore you to shift your focus this upcoming week. Don’t disregard the happenings around you. Be vigilant, but please shift some of your focus as you prepare for Thanksgiving.

I am a political junkie. I read blog after blog and article after article about everything. Nothing is off limits as I seek to understand the world I am living in. I love discussing these topics at the dinner table and hearing from others about their opinions and their thoughts on certain topics. I love to do this, but this must not happen at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Many will tell you to sit around and use that family time to digest your food along with topics like the affordable care act, gun rights, the NRA, the environment, race relations, or any other politically charged topic. Please don’t do this. I beg you…DO NOT DO THIS!

Let Thanksgiving be a day, even if it is just one day, of rejoicing. Let this be a day where we laugh and talk about the old days with our cousins, in-laws, brothers, sisters, spouses, parents, grandparents, and friends. Please refrain from bringing the disunity of this country and world to your dinner table. If you are young, listen to some great stories from those more seasoned than you. If you are seasoned, then please, I am begging you, share your experiences and your stories with us. We want to hear what has shaped you…what experiences made you who you are.

This is not easy. This is very difficult for those of us that suffer from opinion-diarrhea. I get it…it is hard to control sometimes because you know, or assume, that you are right and everyone else is wrong. Well, I ask you, for just one day, to turn it off. For one day look around your dinner table and understand that loving your neighbor is more important than your opinion on a politically charged subject.

Thanksgiving should be a celebration, so embrace it! Also understand that this time of year is very difficult for many. Our dinner tables have added chairs because of new births or marriages, but some have lost chairs due to divorce or death. Thanksgiving, although a celebration, brings back memories that hurt. Recognize this in your own home and shower those that are hurting with love. You cannot change the past but you can certainly have an impact on their present…on those three hours that you are with them. Make it your mission to make their day the absolute best.

Young men and dads, I also have a specific challenge for you. I know that you are hungry. I know that you have waited all year for that turkey and dressing. I know that your love for food surpasses your love for a lot of other things. However, I am challenging you to be last. Encourage the ladies to go first. Encourage the grandparents and the more seasoned folks to be at the front of the line. Your desire for food should not trump your desire to see the women and the patriarchs of your family being honored on this day. Cherish these moments because someone may not be there next year; God may call them home. Stand back and just soak it in. Take a deep breath and thank God for the family he has given you. They may be crazy and they may annoy you at times, but they are family and deserve your love. This may be difficult for you to understand right now, but trust me; it will make your day and their day a better one.

Finally, I would simply encourage you to make next Thursday someone else’s best Thanksgiving ever. If we do this, if all of us do this, then all of us can say that November 26, 2015 was one of the best days of our lives. Others matter more than you. I know that it is tough to understand, but it is so true.

God bless and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at HOPE!

posted by Andrew Wood, Executive Director of Hope Resource Center