Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Open Door...

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I think it'll be the first Thanksgiving in years where I didn't have definitive plans. (We rescheduled our celebrations here to accommodate family coming in from out of town in a few weeks.) Although there will definitely be festivities at a later time, it seems weird doing nothing for the actual holiday.

When we were growing up, it was one of those holidays that I truly enjoyed. All the relatives would get together and we would cook and reminisce. We didn't have to worry about if people would like our humble gifts or not. We would eat until it hurt and then play games. And although there would be mild bickering in the background, it didn't seem to matter.

Later, when I was on my own in New York City and before I really knew anyone there, I would use it as a day of service and would volunteer at the soup kitchen. The line would often stretch down for many blocks, thousands of people long from early in the morning into late in the evening. It was hard work, but it was important for me that everyone got a good meal.

Then one year, the shelter said that they had over-booked volunteers and that they didn't need me to help. So, a new tradition was formed. For a lot of people in the City, they only get a day off for the holiday and it doesn't make sense to travel back to their far-flung homes. So I gathered up everyone I knew who didn't have plans. Many of them were friends who I knew from Florida, who had migrated North after I had. Some of them were college cronies. Some of them were roommates of friends. We had an open door policy. No one was turned away and everyone left with their bellies full!

I remember one year, it got so hot in my apartment from the oven and stove going that we had to prop the door open. My neighbor (who I had seen infrequently and did not know well) passed by holding a TV dinner. We invited him in and he joined in on the festivities. Coincidentally, he met one of my friends at the gathering and I believe are still together to this day.

Another year, after eating until we all felt like we were fit to burst, a friend from work leaned in and said, "That was the best meal of my life." The food we had that night wasn't anything particularly fancy or complicated, but it was prepared with love and the door was open.

18 comments:

Joan Tucker said...

Andrew, I will toast you and your generosity and open door at our gathering tomorrow. There is much to be grateful for and I hope you get to share some food with others.In this time of such wide spread hunger and poverty, we all need to use your example to bring in a neighbor or give food to the Food Bank.
Holiday wishes to you and yours,
Joan T and Lana

Spirited Earth said...

this was a really love post.

Spirited Earth said...

Lovely post..

kate mckinnon said...

That's beautiful, Andrew.

Regina said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Andrew. It does a heart good to read of your Thanksgivings past. Many blessings to you this holiday season.

SueBeads said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Xmichra said...

Although we have had our thanksgiving (Canadian) I understand the strangeness of doing nothing for that specific holiday. Seems that even in the unplanned, giving thanks can always be done.

Hope you have a happy thanksgiving :)

Indonesia Heritage said...

Happy Thanksgiving Sir ...

Janet said...

That was just wonderful reading Andrew! Really enjoyed that! Have a wonderful meal tomorrow and have a Blessed weekend!

SummersStudio said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Andrew. These sorts of thoughts are to me what this holiday is about. Gratitude for the connection we get from every day interaction with our fellow travelers through life.

Julianna Cannon said...

Yours is a brilliant light.

Loveness.

Patty said...

I think that some of the best and most memorable holidays are those that involve people who would have otherwise been alone. We have taken others into our fold from time to time, when camping on a cold riverbank, or even once when traveling to see family out of town. It's a wonderful thing, Andrew, and your generosity and kindness is wonderful.

I hope you and your loved ones have a peaceful holiday.

hello gorgeous said...

hey gorgeous, LOVED reading this post....giving and sharing....two GREAT qualities to have ;o)

Have a FAB Thanksgiving and enjoy the celebrations when they arrive....

hugs

hello gorgeous xxx

Imaginative Jewelry said...

Lovely post. Enjoy your day.

My Life Under the Bus said...

Yes - we love to have extra people so no one is alone.I agree is is nice not to have the stress of gifts - just pure enjoyment of each others company. Well Said! Happy Thanksgiving - may you find yourself among friends : )

Pretty Things said...

That's actually pretty awesome that the shelter was overbooked for volunteers!

Shaiha said...

We tried to gather up strays this year but only a few showed up. No matter, we will do the same next year and the year after.

Michelle said...

My best memories of the holidays were when I was a kid and my mom was married to a Navy man...we would have all of the single guys who couldn't travel to see their families over to our house. I had a bunch of big brothers for several years while they were all on the same submarine. Lots of food and laughter.
Thank you for sharing your memories.
Michelle