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Over the River and Through the Woods

Last Sunday evening, our church hosted turkey bingo. One of my favorite childhood memories is playing church bingo when my Grandpa Allen was the caller. So I wanted to go and to take my two older kids with, to share in the fun of the evening. Only my son elected to go.

On the way there, I told him that if we happened to win a turkey, we’d give it to our neighbor, Kathy, who volunteers at a local food pantry. He happily agreed.

We played our way through the evening and hoped for good luck. But as the games kept ending with folks who weren’t us, bingoing, and winning turkeys, my son grew restless and antsy. When they announced there were only three turkeys left, he seemed downright desperate. And when the final “Biinngooo” rang out, he hung his head and started crying.

Knowing just how much young kids always want to win at everything, I assumed he was bummed. And it was Sunday night, so he was tired, too.

But he was really upset. And then he let it out, “But we needed to win a turkey to give it to Kathy. To donate.”

My friend Scott and his wife, Alisha, were the bingo callers that night. As I said goodbye, I told Alisha about the failed attempt to donate a turkey and she thought it was really sweet.

As we got in the car, he was still lamenting our losses, so I told him we’d call Kathy and ask her what her organization needed, and we’d buy it. He thought that sounded like a good plan.

I called Kathy on Monday, and she told me they needed socks and gloves. In Bismarck, North Dakota, those are essential for the winter months. So I bought men’s wool socks, comfy women’s socks, and kids’ gloves. When I picked up my kids from school, I told him that we could take the items to Kathy and she’d take them to the pantry. He thought that was great, but immediately said, “But I sure wish we had a turkey.”

(This child is my middle child and he is his mother. If we get something in our head, there’s no turning back.)

And then today, Wednesday, my friend Alisha (and her daughter), so moved by his heart’s little desire to donate a turkey to those in need, brought him a turkey. I told him when he got home from school and he was pumped.

So he and I loaded up the sleigh and took the turkey to the food bank. The very kind man working there let him help move it through the warehouse and into the freezer. And he assured us it would go to the emergency food pantry this evening.

We now have a very happy boy, in this little place in the world. On the night before Thanksgiving.

In the past few years, I feel like life has given me quite a few reminders to stay in my own lane. To do the little things I can, to help myself and others. But my son reminded me this week to never doubt that a simple act of kindness can have a great impact.

Wherever you are and however this finds you. From me and my family to yours. Happy Thanksgiving.



Over the river and through the woods, To have a first-rate play; Oh, hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling-ling!” Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river and through the woods, Trot fast, my dapple gray! Spring over the ground, Like a hunting hound! For this is Thanksgiving Day.


/ / The JM Stebbins blog is an autoimmune encephalitis blog from former lawyer and autoimmune encephalitis survivor, Jackie M. Stebbins.

Jackie M. Stebbins is also the author of Unwillable: A Journey to Reclaim my Brain, a book about autoimmune encephalitis, resilience, hope, and survival. / /


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