As Scouts and Scouters during Thanksgiving time we naturally direct our thoughts to things we are thankful for—things like friends, family, liberty, our churches, schools, good food, activities we can do, and places we have been or can go to.

It is great to have things that we are thankful for. In this world, not everyone gets what they want the way they want it, but everyone can be thankful for what they have.

As an example let’s listen to (or read below) Scott Macaulay’s story from StoryCorps recorded on October 21, 2010.  Especially pay attention to the part about the lady with Parkinson’s Disease.

In September of 1985, when I was 24, my folks decided to get divorced. I was taught that to be a good son, I needed to be supportive and loving to each parent and to my siblings. But nobody was talking to anybody.

If you were nice to one parent, the other one would get mad at you. So when October came, I thought, What’s going to happen at Thanksgiving? And I just did not like the thought of being home alone—or anywhere alone—on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is not about gifts or fireworks or hoopla. It’s a meal around a table where you give thanks for the blessings you have, and you really can’t do that by yourself and have much fun.

I decided to put an ad in the local paper: If people thought they would find themselves alone, they could give me a call, and I would make a Thanksgiving dinner. That first year, a few people came, and they had a good time. I was nervous about making a mess out of the food and disappointing people. But the food was OK, and I didn’t burn anything.

I’ve held the dinner every year since. Last Thanksgiving, 84 people showed up. Sometimes they’re new to town; sometimes they’re recently divorced or widowed. I’ve had people who were new to the country and didn’t speak any English, but they enjoyed my Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve had poor people, people who come from AA, old people. Also, not counted within that number: I always feed the police. The firefighters and EMTs are in buildings with kitchens and can have their own Thanksgiving dinner among themselves, but the police officers are in their cars, driving around town on call.

Two years ago, a woman with Parkinson’s disease came, and she was not good on her feet. She had been in a nursing home for seven years and had never been out. Somebody told her about the dinner, and she hired an ambulance to bring her, at $200 plus mileage. She had a great time, and she cried when the ambulance returned to get her. She didn’t want to go home.

Most of the people who come don’t know who I am. They know that there’s some skinny guy in the kitchen, but they don’t know my name. I think the theme of my life, and everything I do, could be summed up with the name of an old hymn called “Brighten the Corner Where You Are.” I hope my legacy will be that I came into the world, I brightened the corner, and then I quietly left the world unnoticed.

According to the Reader’s Digest, this year, “Scott will host his 30th Thanksgiving dinner, which will be held at the First Baptist Church in Melrose, Massachusetts. He’ll spend the day before the feast decorating the room, and on Thanksgiving, he’ll arrive at 4 a.m. to put the turkeys in the oven.”

Scouts, you can see that thankfulness is not always having what you want, but wanting what you have. Mr. Macaulay didn’t want his parents to divorce and he didn’t want be alone for Thanksgiving, so he got happy about what he had and gave to others. So  what about the lady with Parkinson Disease? What could she be happy about?

Remember another part of Thanksgiving is the giving part. Not everyone can give money, but everyone can give time, like Scott Macaulay, but he gave both. As Scouts, you can give by doing a Good Turn every day.

To do a Good Turn, you can’t expect to be rewarded (or paid). Maybe you can help shovel a neighbor’s sidewalk, offer to get groceries for an elderly person, or just do a favor for someone. It can be as simple as holding a door for someone. Whatever kind of Good Turn you do, don’t take more than a thank-you for doing it.

Now is a good time for you to begin being a good Scout and follow the Scout slogan, “Do a Good Turn Daily” and to be thankful for what you do have.

Darryl Alder
Darryl is a retired career Scouter with more than 30 years of service. These days he is a Scouting Ambassador and serves on the Council Membership and Marketing Committee. However, his pride in Scouting is his volunteer service as an Associate Advisor, Varsity Scout Coach, Scoutmaster, Cubmaster, Chartered Organization Representative, and Commissioner.

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