What is Thanksgiving without friends or family?  SADNESS.  Sorry to be so dramatic.  I knew that no matter WHAT we did for Thanksgiving- in the kids’ eyes, it would never, ever live up to our normal celebration (we usually host).  At least I planned ahead.  I figured that instead of trying to compete with their expectations, it would be better do something entirely different, something we wouldn’t normally do because we’re busy hosting.

I had looked around to see if there was any way we could serve the homeless on Thanksgiving Day, and found Operation Turkey.  It’s run entirely by volunteers, without a single paid staff member.  The idea is that all food is donated by local restaurants/people/organizations, and then meals are packaged assembly-line style Thanksgiving Day and delivered around the city to homeless folks.  They even have a “Turkey Tailgate” the day before, where volunteers get together and smoke all the turkeys in preparation for the big day!

Up early and ready to help

There were a lot of different stations to choose from, so the kids and I started by decorating the boxes that the meals would go in.  This was a popular station with kids, and it was really sweet to see them all working so hard!

Billy wanted to deliver meals once they were packaged, so he joined the line of cars, and soon Ellie completely disappeared.  After a while I left to search for her, and I wasn’t surprised to find her stationed and ready to roll.  She’s all action when it comes to getting things done, especially if it involves helping other people.

When it came time to start the assembly line, Finn jumped in the car to deliver with Billy, and Deacon and I got in line to start packing.  We walked along gathering all of the parts to the meal, and then passed our boxes off to the waiting cars, who loaded up and whisked them away to be delivered.  Billy and Finn really enjoyed handing out meals.  There was a list of places where homeless people usually were, which was good because without knowing the town, they had no idea where to go!  They were able to find plenty of folks to hand out the meals to, and the recipients were so, so thankful.  After the last meals were packed and sent off, we helped clean up and waited for Billy and Finn to come back.  We were amazed at how smoothly the whole thing went for being entirely volunteer-based!  So many people showed up willing to help!  We drove away feeling thankful and thoughtful.

Back at home we made a few of our Thanksgiving Day favorites.

After eating way too much, we walked down to the fields and found the most adorable donkeys!

We also found some longhorn cattle!

The cattle made for some great pictures – when the donkeys weren’t photobombing!

So the day was certainly different, and even though we still missed our family, we had each other.