One week ago we shared Thanksgiving Day. My husband and I usually drive to California and spend the time with his kids and our grandkids but this year they had other plans with the other side of the family. So we had to make our own holiday plans.
“How ’bout going to a nice buffet?” Ernie offered.
I replied, “Y’know hon, at the end of our lives together someday, I don’t want to think the years we didn’t make the trek from Las Vegas to California, we never enjoyed our own traditions. All we did was wait in line for two hours in a casino with the bells ding-dinging and the lights flashing, only to overeat sub-standard, factory-made food.” You consider these things when you get married later in life.
I told him I wanted to do a Thanksgiving dinner for “orphans. Not real orphans. People who don’t have family here or a place to go for turkey dinner and pumpkin pie. There are lots of them in Las Vegas. Many have a job, a warm home and a dependable car. But no one to bow their head and share grace with. No one to be with the fourth Thursday in November.
When I lived in San Diego before meeting my husband I was grateful to the people who invited me to their holiday dinners. I’d bring a big salad or a nice dessert. Being in the company of others on a holiday is important. This year I wanted to share what I’ve been so generously given Thanksgivings past.
So, I planned. Me, Ernie and four others. Six people, most in our 50s. Still wanting to experience a holiday connection even if we aren’t related.
A man going through a difficult divorce and the loss of his business due to the economy.
A woman whose elderly husband is in the hospital with dementia. She’s been his tireless caretaker for a decade.
A man whose lost almost everything. Struggling to pay for a rented room and a cell phone to stay in contact with others. Trying with every breath left to recreate his life.
A woman who owned a successful hair salon and rental properties who now has a little booth in the back of someone else’s salon to cut hair.
After Ernie said grace we went around the table and spoke about what we’re grateful for: health, inquisitive minds, family across the country, hope in the future, faith and the will to fight back from adversity.
Ernie and I own our small home. But we don’t have a proper dining room. We have a dining nook that barely seats four. So, I moved things around in my office. I rented a table that seemed the right size to fit six comfortably, dusted everything with Pledge and packed away my laptop, the printer and the file piles.
It was a lot of fun. We enjoyed dinner and later ate dessert in the living room. We also played a spirited, competitive round of Trivial Pursuit. Afterward each person said something like, “I didn’t think it would bother me being at home myself for the holiday – but I’m so glad you invited me.”
This is the start of another holiday season. There might be someone you work with, a neighbor or even a friend of a friend. They might be too proud to say it – but they honestly don’t have a family to share their holiday with. They can bring the asparagus, or a bottle of wine. Or, they may offer to do the dishes so you can relax.
Why not invite them to join your festivities?