Words of Wisdom: Setting the Table

Contributing Editor Walt Pickut
Contributing Editor Walt Pickut

Setting a table, whether for a feast or a snack, requires certain things: plates, utensils, drinking glasses, napkins, and of course the food itself.

Whether your plates are paper or fine china, your utensils are plastic or sterling silver, whether you drink from red party cups or crystal goblets, and whether you dab your lips with paper napkins or fine linen, setting the table just right is essential.

But the food itself sets the tone. On Thanksgiving, traditional specialties and family favorites are always generously laid on with great care.

I happen to think, for example, that vegetables are a must for a Thanksgiving feast. That is why I suggest having enough carrot cake, lots of zucchini bread, and at least two nutritious pieces of pumpkin pie.

But all of that advice about the very best way to set a Thanksgiving table, still misses something. The very best setting is no good at all without the most important part of the feast: the people who will enjoy it.

And if the people at your feast are the most important table setting, they should enjoy each other as much as they enjoy the rest of the feast.

Thanksgiving, after all, is a celebration of people and community. The day originally came into being for the entire community to express thanks to one another, to God’s providence that kept them together and alive, and to the bonds between them that promised a better future.

The celebrants had little at their first Thanksgiving dinner. They had lost much to hardships of many kinds, yet they were still thankful.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough,” Oprah Winfrey once said on the importance of giving thanks on Thanksgiving and on every other day of the year.

W.T. Purkiser, a 20th century American preacher, scholar, and author, turns thanks into actions. “Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our Thanksgiving.”

In my own experience, I find the most thankful people are not the ones whose cup is half full instead of half empty, but the ones who are thankful they have a cup and something in it to share.

Thanksgiving is not a day to be thankful for what I have or what you have. That’s for birthdays and for children on Christmas morning. Thanksgiving is the day to be thankful for what we have.

Set your Thanksgiving table this year so people seated around it see that they are the most important table setting each one can be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Jamestown Gazette. Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.