Thanksgiving Dinner With Perfect Strangers

24 Nov

Today I had thanksgiving with a family I don’t even know. I was unsure about it before hand. I text my friend Mere and said it was going to be awkward. She said “Awkward makes for the best stories!” She is wise. So I decided to write about it.

It’s not like I didn’t know anyone. I know the grandma, my temporary next-door neighbor, a spunky lady with red wire-rimmed glasses nicknamed by her kids and grandkids “Ba-poo.”

I walked in and was immediately welcomed with hands, drinks, open arms, questions, jokes, a tour of the beautiful home and introductions and explanations of “who’s who” in the tangled family tree.

“TEXAS?! You’re from TEXAS!? Honey, come here!”

I was hugged tightly by a (Texan) daughter-in-law, finally feeling ok with saying that’s where I am “from.”

As usual, it’s not always simple to explain who I am and what I am doing here.

“Technically, I was born in California but I grew up in New Hampshire but I’ve lived in Texas eight years.”

“What part??”

“East… near Tyler… then near Dallas…”

“So what are you doing here?”

“Working on a book project…blah blah blah explain, explain  la la la.”

“Oh like ghostwriting?”

“Umm sort of… kind of like a collaboration…”

This repeated many times throughout the evening.

I could barely keep track of  who I was meeting,  but I can’t keep track of my own life either and somehow it all works out.

A few drinks in and it didn’t matter. Then the food came.

Sitting at a table together, barriers come down.

It didn’t matter I didn’t know anyones dreams and desires, or even the favorite band of the twenty-one year old next to me or whether he believes in God. We both thought it is damn good cheesy corn casserole and in the moment, that’s what mattered.

It didn’t matter they had been through weddings, births, deaths, divorces, years and miles with each other and I came into their world thirty minutes ago, they accepted me as a human being.

And don’t forget football. Nothing brings people together (especially in the South) like football. Though I feel estranged from that world, like a bored alien observing a foreign planet where men in spandex run around with a ball and people scream,  I could at least relate to the fact the venue they played in was ten minutes down the road from where my old apartment was.

The conversation continued over touch-downs and three types of stuffing and two types of turkey and too much gravy.

“So what’s your book about?”

“Ummm…. well, it’s like… blah blah blah and then sort of like blah blah ‘loosely based’ on The Wizard of Oz.’ Mumble, mumble, na na. Yes.”

Or something like that.

Ok, so maybe I ate and drank too much to make sense, or maybe I never do anyway. Maybe I love the fact it doesn’t take a simple sentence to explain my life.

I  got a bit misty-eyed when I looked around at the love this family had for each other, laughed hysterically at the anecdotes about other years when the cat’s tail caught on fire, and I stifled a giggle when the seven-year old said the blessing,

“And I pray for the pilgrims…. even though they are dead…”

Though I was far from people who really know me (besides my dear friend Becca) it didn’t matter. Because there is something raw and real and beautiful and maybe a little messy about sitting down at a table to eat with perfect strangers on a holiday that is all about friends and family, only to walk away feeling completely satisfied in my stomach and in my heart.

And finally, here are some points of gratitude as of lately…. 

Soundtrack of my life lately: Katie Herzig & Josh Garrells.

Watching Hulu with Becca after a long day.

Memoirs. Brennan Manning’s in particular.

Spinach. (I put it in everything, can’t get enough)

The miracle of writing one more chapter.

Spontaneous Sushi lunches with Steve.

Modge-Podge.

Watching the leaves fall off the trees as I walk around the neighborhood.

Laying on the swing-bench just to look up at the sky and breathe.

Yoga to wake up.

Jean-Thomas randomly calling throughout the day.

That I get to see The Civil Wars finally in two weeks.

That I get to go (home) to Texas in two and a half weeks.

Knowing this book will be completed.

Jesus… all He is… the beauty all around me He is continually opening my sleepy eyes to see….

What if Grace was so thick it hung in the air like a dense fog? With every breath you breathe in pure Grace, there is no distance, no lack, no barrier. You couldn’t take in a breath without filling your lungs with Pure Life. 

This is exactly the way it is…

(Steve Roy)

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One Response to “Thanksgiving Dinner With Perfect Strangers”

  1. Juniper Christgau November 24, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    One of my most cherished memories
    finds me sitting at a forgotten diner in
    the midwest with my newlywed husband
    and a kindly old couple, ordering the
    “Turkey Day Special” with extra cranberry.

    Love your post!

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