With Thanksgiving just around the corner, read how President Thomas S. Monson made one Thanksgiving his most memorable. The following is an excerpt from Consider the Blessings: True Accounts of God's Hands in Our Lives.
Occasionally I ponder an experience from my boyhood. I grew up during the Depression. These were difficult times. My father was a craftsman, a printer, and he always had employment, although others were not so fortunate.
I remember the boys with whom I went to school. Many had clothing bought at rummage sales. The same size jacket was to fit four boys in one family. The father did not support the family. The mother worked nights as a telephone operator in Salt Lake City. The thing I remember most about this family was that when I would call upon the boys to go to school, they would be having breakfast—cornflakes with water. There was no milk, there was no cream, there was no sugar—only cornflakes and water.
One particular Thanksgiving Day there was, as usual, turkey dinner for our family, along with all the trimmings. As I waited for the feast to begin, I heard my name being called by one of my friends, Charlie. In those days we never knocked on the door; we would just stand outside in the back and yell. I heard Charlie call, “Tommy!” I went outside, and he said, “It sure smells good in there. What are you eating?”
I said, “We’re eating turkey.”
He said, “I’ve never eaten turkey. What does it taste like?”
I said, “Oh, something like chicken.”
“I’ve never eaten chicken,” he said. “What does that taste like?”
I told him to wait a minute, and I went in the house and got a piece of turkey for him to sample. He chewed it for a minute and then said, “Boy, that’s good.”
I said, “Charlie, what are you having for your Thanksgiving dinner?”
There was a silence, and then he said, “Nothing.”
I remembered at that moment my mother, who always fed the transients who came through, riding the rails from east to west. When Mother would welcome them, she’d open the back door and have them sit at the table. Then she’d make them boiled ham sandwiches, give them potato chips and glasses of milk, and ask them what they were doing riding the rails and why they didn’t go home and settle down somewhere. She was quite a philosopher and had absolutely no fear whatsoever. I thought of her when my friend Charlie said he was not having Thanksgiving dinner.
At that moment I remembered I had something. I had no money, but I had two white rabbits. They were the pride of my life, beautiful New Zealand whites. I said, “Charlie, you come with me, because I’ve got something for your Thanksgiving dinner.” We went into the backyard, and with tears in my eyes I opened the rabbit hutch, took a gunnysack, and put first one rabbit and then the other into the gunnysack. I said, “You take these home, and your mother will know what to do with them. They taste a whole lot like chicken.”
Charlie was up on the fence and over the backyard to his home as quick as a flash. He later said they had the best Thanksgiving dinner they had ever had.
I loved the rabbits, but the feeling that came into my heart on that occasion, when I had given all that I had, when I had followed the counsel and the training of my mother, was superior to any love for those rabbits. I thought of the poet’s expression: “The smile of God’s approval is the greatest of all gifts.”
Lead image retrieved from history.lds.org.
Read more stories from President Monson in Consider the Blessings: True Accounts of God's Hands in Our Lives, available at Deseret Book or deseretbook.com.
If you ask people what they love most about President Thomas S. Monson’s teaching style, chances are they’ll say something about the personal experiences he relates. Enjoy a compilation of his warm, memorable accounts in this beautiful book.