I don't know if I can come up with the right words to describe Thanksgiving, a day that was just all kinds of perfect from beginning to end. To begin with, it started after a full night of sleep -- so really, our nine month track record of sleep gives me more than a person has a right to be thankful for! Then, when the roasted turkey gave our house the smell of Thanksgiving, I packed up the bird and headed to our local community center for the meal that has become the center of our holiday.
We are very lucky to live in a smallish city where service to others is a core value to so many. The place where we share a meal at Thanksgiving time was started by a group of people who, once a week, cooked a meal for "anybody in the world." Three years ago, with a committed cast of supporters and volunteers, the group was able to buy a building, renovate it, and create a place where people in need can now eat three meals a day, every day of the week. On Thanksgiving the building is overflowing with friends, food and fun. And each year I cannot imagine a place where I would rather share a meal and give thanks.
This year, Sami asked if he could go with me and help prepare for the meal. I hesitated only because the place is thick with activity and I worried that he would be too much underfoot. But despite his small size, Sami knows how to get things done and together we set the table for 150 of our friends and then made the biggest vat of whipped cream you ever saw. And it made me very proud to see how determined Sami was to be of help.
Nik and Oliver joined us in time to eat, finding a space in the middle of a long, crowed table, in the middle of a very crowded room. Tradition dictates that each person present call out, in turn, one thing for which he or she is grateful. With about 180 people in the room, this takes some time -- but Oliver sat smiling through it all. Even during the moment of silent prayer (can you believe how long a minute is??), Oliver was, well, silent. But after the meal, when a whole group of kids and adults went outside to play soccer, Oliver made it clear that he was done, done, done. We left Nik and Sami to walk home after the game and snuggled up at home with a cup of hot chocolate.
Later, I made a giant pot of pumpkin-ginger-cranberry soup and we walked five blocks to a neighbor's house for our second communal turkey meal of the day. Oliver and I, not much for traditional T'giving fare, were extremely thankful to see that our neighbors from El Salvador had contributed a massive bowl of beans and rice with an amazing chili sauce! And then I was content to sit back and listen to the flow of Spanish-to-English conversation, trying to sense of it as I could.
The day ended perfectly when all the kids ran outside to jump on the trampoline and exhausted themselves! And all of us went to sleep fat and happy!
So yes, I'm thankful. I'm thankful that we are part of this community. I'm thankful that my kids are growing up surrounded by people who see value in every human being. And, as in years past, I'm simply happy for each of us to have a spot at the table.