In praise of the piano bench
There exists a little-known hero of Thanksgiving Day. The turkey gets all the accolades it needs. Presidents are even required to take a break from their busy days to pardon one. Even canned cranberries have their loyal fans. Then, of course, there’s the Macy’s Day Parade and the day’s football games. But to me, the real hero of Thanksgiving is not on television. The thing that demonstrates the beauty of the day cannot be eaten. It’s not even on the table, but sitting right next to it. The best thing about Thanksgiving is a piano bench.
I grew up states away from our extended family, so we’d celebrate holidays with dear family friends and an assortment of strangers. We’d show up to their small home, carrying our contributions to the meal, and they’d put us to work setting the table. Every year I’d look at their table doubting we could all fit around it. With Erin and Megan, the daughters of the house, my brother and I would be sent to collect chairs but we could never find enough. So, in order to squeeze more bodies around the table, we’d pull up the piano bench.
It wasn’t the most comfortable of seats. I know this because, as the youngest among us, I’d be assigned to sharing it with Erin or Megan, or sometimes both of them. But I didn’t mind because that bench ensured that I had a place. The piano bench made the table just a little bit bigger.
For me, the Thanksgiving piano bench can teach us about living our lives with a spirit of abundance, gratitude, and hospitality. We can easily convince ourselves that there is not enough. There’s not enough room at the table. We don’t have enough. We aren’t good enough. But the piano bench reminds me that it’s not about how big the table is, but how we set it. It’s not really about an amount at all – but it’s about how we respond to whatever it is we have. We could either spend our lives convinced we need more or we could spend our lives celebrating and sharing what we’ve got.
Gratitude is just what we need to counter our culture of scarcity. Instead of being fearful of losing what we have or worrying that we don’t have enough, we can instead look with joy at what is in front of us and simply be grateful. Instead of worrying about all those “what ifs” we can simply delight in “what is.” We can declare that even if it’s not a lot, there’s enough and more to share. We can pull up a piano bench and invite someone else into our lives, into our hearts, and around our tables.
Pastor Sara Olson-Smith, associate pastor