My Pandemic Thanksgiving Dinner

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Norman Rockwell

It spread so fast, no one could stop it. By the time I left everyone had it. Some of the volunteers were already infected before I arrived, but I still engaged in as much physical contact as possible before I left to make sure everyone was exposed.

I sat down at the table and I immediately noticed the African-American gentleman who sat directly across from me. His head was practically buried in his plate as he ate from within his protective shell of anonymity. I could tell as I settled into my chair by the way he quickly turned his head to the left that he wanted to make sure the white lady did not feel compelled to speak to him. I immediately leaned forwarding and said, “Happy Thanksgiving, sir.”

He looked up at me and smiled briefly, tipping his head toward me in a polite gesture as he returned to eating his food. I knew then that he was starved and no amount of food would satisfy his hunger. Because of my own experience as a homeless person, I quickly assessed that the two men in front of me, the man to my right and the women to my left were all homeless people. I was the most fortunate person at the table, facing default on my mortgage on December 17. I got their attention one by one and said happy Thanksgiving to each one. I then noted aloud how wonderful the food is here because it is not only home cooked, but it has that special ingredient of love. Several shook their heads in agreement.

I was presented with a heaping plate of turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and corn with a large piece of cornbread on top. I had helped myself to several slices of jellied cranberry sauce while several volunteers fussed over me, making sure I had plenty of everything I wanted, and they were ready to bring me beverages and dessert, as much as I wanted after my second helping of dressing and gravy. The lady who brought me pumpkin pie very lovingly informed me she made sure I got the biggest piece. I sent a message to the wonderful person who made the stuffing to make sure he or she knew how especially delicious it was.

I talked to the lady to my left. She could have gone to Daddy’s house in east Texas, but it would have been several hours drive out and back and she just didn’t have the gas money. She was grateful that she recently finally got a job and a place to live, but it would be slow getting back on her feet. I assured her it would be an upward spiral from now on.

The fellow to my right had a serious problem with his esophagus that caused him to whistle from deep inside his throat when he attempted to speak, so outside of imparting how much he enjoyed the pumpkin pie, he didn’t have much to say. I let him know I understood as I patted his back. I let the man next to the gentleman directly across from me know that I envied he had gotten the last of the asparagus. Someone had been exceptionally generous preparing such an expensive dish for this gathering.

I got the man across from me to finally start talking. He was from Detroit. With GM’s failure, there appears to be 20%-25% unemployment up there, so he had no choice but to go somewhere else. Got to Texas six weeks ago and still no job, but he’s not giving up. Often, those who’ve never been so down on their luck tend to think only people who don’t try are out in the street, but that’s not true. Most of them try. They try real hard, but sometimes there’s just nothing left to try for. I told him how I can’t get a job delivering pizzas anymore, when only a couple of years ago it was hard for them to find enough people to deliver pizzas.

A volunteer sat next to him and I got to talking with her about how I discovered love honestly and truly is the answer to all the terror that is surrounding us. I told her how I recently discovered that our emotions directly affect our DNA and apparently the DNA of all that is alive, including the earth itself. She shared with me something I never knew before:

F False
E Events
A Appearing
R Real

She was absolutely right. That alone explained why love is so much more powerful than fear. Fear is an illusion. Love is real. Before the meal was over, I announced they would all have to put up with my Thanksgiving tradition of hugging everyone with whom I shared my meal.

The lady to my left was ready to leave first. We stood up and I hugged her with the same love I would have hugged my own daughter. While we hugged, I told her I just know it will all get better soon and great happiness is in store for her. I could see the light on her face as we parted. The fellow to my right left next and when I gave him a great big hug, I told him he would find prosperity soon and he smiled a genuine smile of pleasure. His smile said he believed what I told him.

I was already glowing inside when one of the volunteers announced she had to go home and cook, so I jumped up and went over to her to make sure I got a great big hug from her. She trumped me. Her love overwhelmed me.

By the time I got to hug the gentleman from Detroit, I knew it was spreading fast. I could feel it everywhere in the room. When we released each other I saw his face was beaming, his held his head high, and he had a broad smile from ear to ear that stayed there. He was truly happy.

I then hugged the guy next to him and the fellow who just started eating in the place next to my left where the young lady had sat. As I was ready to leave with a plate full of food for tonight, the volunteer who shared conversation with us at the table and I hugged. We shared for a bit about our knowledge of what we’re accomplishing. We agreed this is the key to overcoming everything that is about to occur during the next three years. We both knew how important it is to teach people not to succumb to the terror around them and to focus on love instead. This is truly the answer. It is not an illusion. It is the reality we must choose to make.

As I walked out the door, I shared several more hugs and I left knowing the entire place had been infected. I left with a swell of joy rising in my chest. I knew it was working, not just for them, but very much for me as well.

And now I am sharing it with you, so you can spread it too. Don’t be afraid to do so. Don’t be bashful. Never mind how some may act because they’re still reacting to the fear that is imposed upon them. They just don’t know what to do yet. As more people catch it, then more people will respond appropriately. It is very important we infect everyone we know. Borrow this story if you want. I don’t mind.

There is nothing more powerful in the world than to love your neighbor. I may have had cross words with some of you last week. Maybe some of you gave a person the finger on the highway the other day. It doesn’t matter. None of that matters. We forgive ourselves. We forgive each other. We come to present time. Yes, please come to present time. It is here, right now, this very moment that we begin to create the tomorrow we all want to share. Regardless of how we may falter along the way, just keep our eyes on the prize because love is the most powerful weapon of all.
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Copyright © 2009-2015 by Jane Doe Smith Rogers. All rights reserved

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