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Pumpkin Pie Shortage

by Nancy Canwell

I don’t feel so good,” Vanessa told her mom. Their family was traveling to another town about an hour away to have Thanksgiving dinner with her grandparents. A senior in high school, Vanessa still loved this holiday. But the pain in her stomach was ruining it for her.

When they arrived, Vanessa headed straight to the bathroom and fell to the floor in terrible pain. “It felt as if someone was stabbing me in the stomach with a knife—the pain was that sharp!” she later told me. When her mom came in and tried to help her stand up, her legs buckled. That’s when they decided to rush her to the emergency room.

Vanessa said, “At the hospital I traded the mashed potatoes and stuffing that waited on my grandparents’ table for an IV and ice chips. Even though that wasn’t my idea of how to spend Thanksgiving, I did find some things to be thankful for. I remember being thankful for my parents, who were there to hold my hand.  And I was thankful for the hospital staff. I kept telling them, ‘I’m sorry you have to work today, but thank you for being here on Thanksgiving!’ ”

After a few tests, they discovered that Vanessa had two kidney stones. “I felt very accomplished,” she said after the crisis was over. “The doctor said that I had endured pain equal to being in labor! And I survived!”

Not one pie

The next morning Vanessa’s dad, Dave, went searching for a pumpkin pie. Since they had missed their traditional Thanksgiving meal (hospital vending machine, anyone?), he wanted to surprise his family.

Dave drove to their usual grocery store, but they had sold out. He tried two other stores. No luck. There wasn’t a single pumpkin pie in town! Or so he thought.

Dave decided to try a local restaurant that was famous for its pies. He was surprised how many people were eating out the day after a big Thanksgiving meal. As he waited in line, people kept cutting in front of him. Even the waitress was too busy to help him.

Then he noticed a young man clearing tables and asked him, “Do you have any pumpkin pie left?”

“Let me go out back and check,” he said cheerfully.

“Thanks,” Dave said. “My family really didn’t get a Thanksgiving.”

Soon the young man returned, proudly carrying a pumpkin pie. Dave really scored on this one! It probably was the last pumpkin pie in town. But his feeling of victory lasted only a few seconds.

“You’re not supposed to bring that out!” yelled the manager as she grabbed the pie right out of Dave’s hands. “That’s the last pumpkin pie we have!” She made such a scene that the entire restaurant was now watching.

“But . . . his family didn’t get to have Thanksgiving,” the young man timidly said.
“Why didn’t you?” the manager snapped at Dave.

So Dave explained how they’d spent Thanksgiving in the hospital with Vanessa, and that he wanted to save at least a part of their Thanksgiving.

“Wait here,” she said.

When the manager returned, she had boxed up the pie and even added a can of whipping cream! “Have a wonderful Thanksgiving,” she said very warmly.
Dave tried to pay her, but she wouldn’t accept it. He offered a tip, but she said, “You can’t tip a gift.”

When he came home and told his family what had happened, he said, “That manager’s change of heart changed the feeling in the whole restaurant. They witnessed the spirit of giving.”

Giving all year

We don’t have to give up the spirit of giving after the holidays are over. We can give year-round. Giving is simple, and something we can all do.

It’s letting another person go in front of you in the cafeteria line.
It’s volunteering to stay after school to help your teacher.
It’s thanking your mom for dinner.
It’s washing your dad’s car without being asked.
It’s holding the door open for an elderly person.
It’s writing your grandparents a letter.
It’s talking to that person who always sits alone at lunch.
It’s acting like Jesus.

Nancy Canwell writes from College Place, Washington. She’s a writer, speaker, and former youth pastor. She has written the Review and Herald 2015 junior/earliteen devotional book, He’s Got Your Back. It’ll be available this fall.

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