I can remember my words. I spoke as if I was sober and of sound mind. “We’d like to have you all come to our house for Thanksgiving.”
It sounded like a good idea in July.
Every time I turned the wall calendar to the next month I felt a bit of panic. Could I even do this?
Right after I hid the rest of the Halloween candy in the piano bench, I started making lists. Excluding babes in arms, there would be 28.
I knew I could extend the big old round Oak table to seat 15. I could squeeze six of the children in the kitchen, put four in the living room at a card table, one at the desk and two could kneel at the coffee table.
As the day fast approached, I spent a whole day collecting extra plates from Sylvia, silverware from Mrs. Pike, a large coffee pot from the church and folding chairs from the undertaker.
At the grocery store I cleaned the shelves of canned pumpkin and cranberry sauce. I went crazy on stuffing bread. I carried home a turkey that outweighed my three-year-old daughter.
At midnight on the night before Thanksgiving, I popped the stuffed big bird in the oven. I basted at 2 am, 4 am, 6 am then started peeling potatoes.
I stood at the sink and looked out the window. It was snowing, not anything so unusual or shocking in the Midwest. But this was not a light dusting, this looked like a full-blown blizzard. Within the hour the phone rang and the first question the caller asked, “Is it snowing at your house?”
Did I mention that all of the invited guests would have to drive a minimum of forty miles from their house to ours?
And they all called to cancel.
My husband and children tried to comfort me. I was tired, frustrated, sad, and not at all thankful!! But they had an idea. We packed up turkey, dressing, potatoes, gravy, rolls and pumpkin and mincemeat pies and drove to the Salvation Army location. We asked if they could use more food.
The lady in charge smiled a broad smile and nodded. We unloaded the car and set the food out on the long tables.
The folks all encouraged us to fill our plates and sit down with the men and women enjoying the meal.
My husband has passed and three of my children have families of their own and live miles away. They are making their own memories.
Now, my daughter and I share a home and we invite those friends, neighbors and her co-workers who either have no family or they are far away. She is a wonderful cook.
We pull out our best dishes, use a table cloth that will have to be ironed before it drapes over our extended table.
Everyone brings something, a special salad or dessert. The house is full of wonderful aromas, and laughter.
All are encouraged to bring a container and take-home left overs; memories of the good food and friendship lasts. Late in the afternoon, our guests take their leftovers, hug everyone, even though they may not have known that person before we all shared good food and fine wine,
It has become a tradition and the guest list has grown, but we always make room, they are not above kneeling at the coffee table.
No one should be alone at Thanksgiving.
– Isobel from Hot Springs, Arkansas, a FAR customer who is finding purpose in this new stage of her life.
* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Finance of America Reverse (LLC).