An orphan Thanksgiving, and other traditions

Column Post by Aj Luck

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays just around the corner, I am curious: Are you finding yourself busy? Maybe even a bit  overwhelmed? At the end of the day, are you falling asleep mid-prayer from the exhaustion of all there is still left to do, in preparation for the holidays?

Are you frantically:
Making shopping lists?
Searching for family recipes?
Making travel plans to visit out-of-town relatives?
Scurrying to clean and decorate your home to receive holiday guests?

Maybe you’re participating in the social media thanksgiving challenges, posting the things for which you are grateful each day?

Are you drowning in the noise of it all?

What if we took a moment out today and paused. What if we looked beyond our schedules and traditions  and chose to look through the eyes of grace.

What would we REALLY see?

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
James 1:27

What about those who have nothing, no one?

What about those who have lost their loved ones and are now alone?

What about those who can’t afford a simple meal, let alone an extravagant traditional one?

The lonely.
The hurting.
The hungry.
The broken.

A few years ago my family did just that. We paused. Out of that a new tradition was born.

We call it an Orphan Thanksgiving.

Each year we purposefully seek out (by asking within our community, church, etc.) anyone who may be facing the holidays alone.

No one deserves to be alone during the holidays. No one.

We are always given a name.

An invitation to dinner is sent. We never ask anything of them, but to come as they are.

We welcome them into our home as family. As we begin sharing laughter, love, and a meal, we marvel at how God begins working on all of our hearts in greater measure than we can imagine.

Since starting this tradition, we have come to meet some amazing people. Once strangers, they are now lifelong friends.

We now go beyond Thanksgiving and extend into other holidays as well.

My challenge to you is this:
Will you dare to be a little adventurous this year?
Would you be willing to start a tradition of your own?
Will you pause and REMEMBER those who seem forgotten?
Will you pray for them?
Will you be the hands and feet of Jesus this holiday season?
We may be all the Jesus they will see.

“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.”
1 Thes: 1-2

From my heart to yours, please know I AM TRULY grateful for each and every one of you. Wishing you a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Here’s to new traditions!

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Aj is a blogger, bookworm, wife and mommy, and an author of children’s books, spiritual thrillers, and inspirational works. Aj’s blog, Shattered Perspectives, is dedicated to encouraging and helping women who have suffered and/or are struggling with abuse. In her spare time Aj can be found nursing cold Diet Cokes and searching for awesome bargains in nearby thrift stores. She resides in Florida with her husband, son, two dogs and the biggest diva of a Siamese cat ever, and can be reached by email at For media requests pertaining to Write Where It Hurts, please contact Aj at

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4 thoughts on “An orphan Thanksgiving, and other traditions

  1. AJ, our best family celebrations have been the years we have been able to embrace this experience. We have ‘everyday orphans’ as well. My husband’s work often puts him in touch with folks living in our town on a short term basis. So, we try to ‘adopt’ them for the season they are here and will invite them over even if it is not a holiday. Since they live in hotels while here, it is a nice change of pace to sit with a family in a home and eat a home cooked meal.

    Knowing you’ve brightened someone else’s day sure helps lift yours especially when life is challenging.

    • That is such a great, inspiring reminder… “everyday orphans.”
      Just knowing how deeply it touches the lives of the giver and reciever…think how it must truly touch the heart of our Father! 🙂
      Thank you for being such a gift to others!!
      God bless you!!

  2. AJ…this came at just the right time…I am getting ready to go out of town to visit children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren…and I’m excited to see them, but exhausted from trying to get everything done FIRST. A moment to pause helps to center me, and to remember that not everyone has family to go to. Thanks for the prompting of the Holy Spirit, AJ.

  3. Linda,
    I am so glad that you were able to stop and pause. <3

    I hope and pray you have safe travels over the holiday; and that you richly enjoy the company of your family!
    God bless you!!

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