This Thanksgiving: Empty places at a table

Being grateful for those who are here, and remembering those who aren’t.

This Thanksgiving, there will be approximately 55 million empty seats at family tables across the nation.

That is roughly 7,857,143 turkeys not eaten, 23 million pounds of mashed potatoes not mashed, and 2,750,000 quarts of gravy not poured. That is 6,875,000 pumpkin pies not served by fussing grandmothers, and 110 million tablespoons of whipped cream not relished.

Those 55 million empty seats mean probably some 36,666,666 pairs of in-laws not politely greeted. They mean somewhere around 275 million hugs not exchanged – maybe more. Of those 55 million empty seats, close to 4,125,000 will be high chairs. That equates to 4,125,000 rags not dirtied with wiping pumpkin off little faces, plus 4,125,000 bibs not soiled, all of which adds up to very many loads of laundry.

This Thanksgiving, there will be roughly 22.5 million men and boys not watching football games in the living room this Thanksgiving, and 22.5 million girls and women not gossiping in the kitchen. That means at least 67.5 million dumb jokes will not be told in living rooms and nearly 225 million gossipy secrets will not be repeated in the kitchen.

Fifty-five million seats is enough to fill at least 5.5 million Thanksgiving tables, which is then enough to ask at least as many blessings. Fewer blessings asked means fewer blessings received. Assuming that there is one table per house, this means there will be at least 5.5 million houses empty on Thanksgiving – but because not all tables have ten people, and because people travel, there will in reality be many more.

The one number I can’t compute off a baseline of 55 million is the number of hearts broken because of that empty seat, because of that plate left in the cupboard. It’s not just the number of mothers who turn their faces from those vacant places; it’s the number of fathers, the number of siblings, and the number of friends. Nearly all of America feels it, however vaguely; I guess it must be some pilgrim instinct in us that tells us that these empty places are somehow wrong.

So what are these empty places, these empty tables, houses, refrigerators, these empty hearts?

They are the long shadow that abortion casts even over a lighthearted family holiday.

Let us pray on this Thanksgiving for all those wounded by abortion. And let us pray that soon, there will be no more oppression from this dark shadow, no more empty seats, no more empty hearts.

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