Nov. 28: Sharing the joy of Thanksgiving A Free Community Thanksgiving Dinner is offered at St. Leo’s Hall in Hibbing

HIBBING — As I reminisce on all the Thanksgivings I have enjoyed through the years, I realize why Thanksgiving is such a special holiday to me. Thanksgiving dinner was always at our house growing up. My mother was an amazing cook, and her meals were a work of art. She would cook most of it in her large, old wood stove down in the basement, and the aromas saturated the house for many hours. We always had a lot of people over for Thanksgiving, many of whom were out-of-town relatives. There would be so much fellowship, laughter, and great times, and it usually was a feast that started on Wednesday and went all the way through Sunday. There was no shortage of mouthwatering food on Thanksgiving, and I enjoyed all the leftovers we had for days just as much. My mother’s refrigerator was always a bonanza of goodies, and there were always fresh homemade breads, pies, and cookies all over the counters.

The talks and fellowship we had with everybody that wandered in our house for a meal or stayed for many days were treasures that greatly blessed my life and helped shape me into the person that I am today. My mother was not only an artist at cooking, but her ability to love people and be hospitable was an inspiration to me that permeated my life. My father was an equally amazing person.

Those are some of the seeds that grew in my life and why Thanksgiving is such a treasured holiday to me. That is why our Free Community Thanksgiving Dinner is so important to me. It is held on Thanksgiving Day, and we feed about 1,000 people. The food is so scrumptious and the fellowship and conversation so deep and meaningful that it brings me back to my childhood. We deliver dinners, and the appreciation and joy of the recipients is a blessing that flows into my life every time I do it. We also have transportation to pick up people, and they are so appreciative.

We have a wonderful, traditional meal with freshly-cooked turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and all of the trimmings. The portions are so generous that we have to use young people so they have the strength to carry and deliver the plates, as we serve everyone who comes in. Everyone there is a big, happy family. There are probably about 150 volunteers who help in some part of the process (Tuesday through Thursday) plus so many donations of resources, food, or help from many community businesses. Everyone who helps in any way is so blessed by being part of it, and throughout the whole year, people are talking about it and thanking us for doing it. Anyone from anywhere is welcome to come join us to eat, and if someone wanted to volunteer, or donate, the door is always open, and the coffee pot is always on.

We hold the dinner from 12:15 – 2 p.m. in St. Leo’s Hall at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hibbing, which is a large, beautiful, handicapped-accessible facility, and the people from that church are incredible. For deliveries or a ride, call 218-263-5764 no later than Nov. 27. St. James’ Episcopal Church has been a driving force for this dinner for almost 30 years now, and I cannot put into words how wonderful they are. Maybe you want to come over to Hibbing to join us this year. Whether you are a single, a couple, or a hungry family, there will be plenty of food waiting, and plenty of conversation to be had. Just tell them Rod sent you.

Rod Tuomi lives in Hibbing, MN. He is the pastor at Hibbing Christian Assembly.

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