I hit the jackpot.
At 4:21pm this Thanksgiving day, I officially join the ranks of a population I’ve served for the last two years at a job I love. It’s a cohort which has inspired more stories on my website than any other life experience to date. And I’ve had my share.
Butch (my dog and resolute Facebook icon) shares my birthday, entering his third year on four legs. Our “Thanksbirthday” celebration (I tried “Birthgiving,” but it sounds like a bloody placenta–which is kinda gross–though I understand there are some cultural traditions known for eating one now and then, and if I don’t stop here, I’m gonna barf a pumpkin pie) will be with family and friends…and festivities most will enjoy and appreciate this holiday.
Across town, generous Thanksgiving workers will be sweating the stuffing that matters. St. Thomas More Catholic Community is carrying out their part of a huge mutual tradition we began together 20 years ago delivering meals to 800 senior citizens who have neither family, food nor invitations elsewhere. Casa de Luz is feeding 600 families, ministering deep within the district of the desolate Naked City. Indeed, across America, prompted by the abundances in their ovens and on their tables, kitchen cooks will find themselves inspired to extend spontaneous invitations to strangers and almost forgotten others, and will send them off with leftovers and homespun experiences most never had and many never will again.
Every breath I take is a moment growing older. I hyperventilated once in February and lost count but I still calculate 55 years breathing and I am more alive today than ever before. This past year, some have lost that gift and the many who remain will spend some part of the day and much of the ensuing season lost in fond memories and teardrops that will decorate their brittle little Christmas trees. Older now, I find life is a lot less a celebration of another year or another holiday than the simple thankfulness that I’m still very much alive to write this short story for your Thanksgiving day.
Writing stories for people is my passion. Today, this one marks the 150th on my website. And as usual, I’ll be posting shorter ones on Facebook for followers to catch a laugh or two. I will also be thinking about my dad and others who will enjoy breathless feasts in a faraway place somewhere at a table which will soon hold a place setting bearing my name, and indeed, will take my own breath away and not make me fat.
But while I’m alive, I write my stories and breathe life into those around me just as are those servants across town at this very moment.
Stories sparked by inspirations are gifts to those who need reminded that someone cares. The season for making memories is now in high gear. For me, it’s not because it’s our birthday, my official entry into senior citizenship and the dreamy discounts at restaurants, nor is it because it’s Thanksgiving. It’s because I’m not yet a corpse. And that’s pretty remarkable if you ask me considering the life I once lived.
So, as the parishioners of St. Thomas, the servants at Casa de Luz, and the many quiet summons from early morning cooks in country kitchens everywhere, I will extend an invitation to the uninvited, hoping to breathe life into someone and to write a truly unforgettable chapter in their lonely life.
Indeed, bigger things are happening in our world today. Much bigger than birthdays or birds on dinner tables. Yet in the midst of the daily news, the best human kindness begins with an invitation and a pen to author generosity in the life of someone who really needs some. That’s how love works.
I tell my stories using words as tools to warm breathing hearts.
Yours can easily be with a place setting a hot meal.
Happy Thanksbirthday to my dog and me, and happy human kindness to all who still have breath and life and a hot meal to share with someone.