November 22, 2017

Room at the table

Chaplain (Maj.) Kelvin Francis
Nellis AFB, Nev.

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is coming together around the dinner table and enjoying good food.

I will never forget my first Thanksgiving at Grandma Ethel’s house. Grandma Ethel is my wife’s grandmother and no one prepared me for my first taste of her food.

After we sat down, gave thanks and I got my first taste, I didn’t make another intelligible sound for at least 40 minutes. The flavors were so delicious, so full of love and the secret to all great food is butter.

The baked mac-n-cheese, the greens, the sweet potatoes, the dressing, the juicy turkey, fried chicken, ham, mashed potatoes, cornbread dressing and gravy, sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie, 7-up cake, million dollar pie, and red velvet cake were so delicious that I just couldn’t stop eating. It was a good two hours before I could even think about having another slice of sweet potato pie.

Coming together around the table is something I look forward to whether it is for a huge Thanksgiving feast, nightly dinner with my family, lunch with my co-workers or for a cup of coffee. And, although I hate to admit it, even for meetings. To have a spot at the table makes a person feel accepted and a part of the whole with something to contribute.

I remember Thanksgiving as a kid and not having a place at the table. Most of the time, the best we got was a folding chair in another room or a spot on the couch. We took comfort in the fact that at least we were near the football game on the television even if there was no room at the table.

I also remember how good it felt anytime someone said to me, “There is room at the table for you. Come and sit down.”

Now, I know that many times it is physically impossible for everyone to have room at the table, but the point I am trying to make is to be intentional about taking the time and making the effort to include those around you as you make room at the table, especially for those who would not normally be sitting at the table. Give them the space and a voice to be a part of the team with the ability to speak up and give their opinion.

It is not always the oldest and highest ranking who needs to be speaking all the time. Our Airmen from every background and every rank are amazing and add great value to our lives, work and mission every day. Give them a voice and make room at the table for those you normally would not, and you just might be surprised. Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and enjoy your space at the table.

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