The Thanksgiving tradition of most Americans involves a day of fine dining and holiday activities shared with members of our own families. But for those who celebrated the first Thanksgiving in the “New World,” Thanksgiving was a time when the year’s harvest was shared with others beyond their immediate families — people as different in culture and background as the immigrant Pilgrims and the Native Americans already here.

In Brown County, the annual Feast of Thanksgiving observance approaches that concept. People of all walks of life — rich, poor, young and old — find themselves making new friends and renewing old acquaintances over a Thanksgiving table at which all are welcome and none is charged admission.

This year’s observance will be the 24th for the county, and the generosity of many residents means funds are sufficient to continue this grand tradition. While the community fellowship the dinner provides is important, the service it provides to hundreds of homebound residents cannot be ignored. Last year, of the 1,925 meals were served on the Howard Payne University campus and through the home delivery program in Brownwood and Early, 1,305 were delivered. The food no doubt is important to those households. Just as important to them, however, is the warm greeting provided by the volunteer who arrives at the door with the holiday meal.

The dinner always is supported by an army of more than 100 volunteers, and more are always welcome. The dinner itself has become a Thanksgiving tradition for many families who, instead of celebrating among themselves, decide to work to ensure that others have a good holiday.

Even though donations are not needed to make certain this year’s event goes on as planned, the feast’s organizers are always looking ahead to next year. And any donations received either in the mail to Bill Fishback’s office at Howard Payne or on Thanksgiving Day will go toward future year’s events.

The way the calendar falls means Thanksgiving arrives earlier in the month than it does in many other years, and the mild weather has certainly not done its part to prepare Texans for these holidays. But this special season so important to us all will begin next week. And for the past 24 years in Brown County, the season has begun with a Thanksgiving dinner enjoyed with friends and neighbors.

The tradition remains intact.

Brownwood Bulletin