Years ago our Thanksgiving tradition involved having the extended family at our home.  I would get up in the wee hours to prepare the turkey for baking.  I am not a “morning person” but I loved the early morning reverie as I basted the turkey:  covering it inside and out with a dry mustard rub, tucking butter pats in between the joints, putting onion and celery in the cavity, placing bacon across the top, laying cheesecloth soaked in olive oil over it to bake it.  Ah!  So moist, so delicious! 

The entertaining was always rather exhausting but rewarding. One year our daughters and their spouses and my nephew and his family were all there.   I remember they were visiting around the table.  I was lying on the couch, all energy expended, too tired to move, but enjoying the sound of their conversation and the sense of all being right in my world.  Nothing better than having our children with us.

Another year, when my parents were no longer driving, my brother drove them out to Tennessee from Oklahoma.  Sadly, our dog died that Thanksgiving morning.  My brother discovered me crying and just folded me into the most tender hug he had ever given me.  My brother’s efforts to get my parents to Tennessee and his sensitivity to my loss were both great gifts.

We have had to adapt over the years as circumstances have changed.  When the extended family gatherings ceased after my mother-in-law died, and our children were often living elsewhere, we began to always do the Grateful Gobbler walk, a fundraiser for homeless services.  Sometimes we celebrated with friends after.  Sometimes we celebrated alone, savoring the day just the two of us.

This Thanksgiving we had an invitation to a church member’s home.  Afterwards, we went to the  Palladium, a local pub which was hosting a community Thanksgiving.  I noticed a woman alone at the bar and decided to reach out, knowing I would want someone to reach out to me if I were alone on a holiday.  I discovered she has been widowed 12 years.  The friends who had invited her to join them had become ill and had to rescind the invitation.  Our conversation led to the discovery that we had both lived in Waco, Texas, and that she is the neighbor of some of our church members.  A serendipity!

Traditions are lovely.  But life evolves. Flexibility is essential to our well-being.

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  The recipe to which I refer is “Marie Louise’s Turkey and Gravy” from the Cotton Country Collection cookbook. 

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