God willing, 4:21pm today I’ll turn 59.

My beloved roommate shares my birthday, entering his seventh year on four legs and our traditional Thanksbirthday weekend celebration is at a holiday peak.

Across town Thursday, hundreds of selfless Thanksgiving workers will be sweating the stuffing that matters as St. Thomas More Catholic Community carries out the final turkey leg of our 20 year tradition together delivering full Thanksgiving meals to 1,000 shut-in and uninvited senior citizens having neither family, food, nor somewhere better to be. Other partner non-profits will be ministering within more desolate parts of town and elsewhere making sure no one goes hungry.  Indeed, all across America, prompted by the abundances in their ovens and on their tables, kitchen cooks everywhere are finding themselves suddenly inspired to extend spontaneous invitations to complete strangers and forgotten others, sending them home afterwards both with leftovers and a homespun experience many never had and some never will again.

Every breath we take is a moment growing older.

I hyperventilated once and lost count but still calculate 59 years more alive today than ever before. This past year, some lost that gift and those of us who remain will spend some part of the day and much of the ensuing season swimming in teardrops and memories that will decorate our faces, Christmas trees and into the New Year.  Older now, I know living is much less a celebration of another year or holiday and more the simple thankfulness to still be very much alive, even if only to write this short story for your Thanksgiving Day.

Writing stories for and about people is my passion. Today’s marks the 247th  on my website and a baker’s dozen more brewing in my head for followers to catch a laugh, a cry or a deeper thought in the coming new year.  Like many of you, I will also be thinking about my own parents and many others who today are enjoying breathless feasts in a faraway place at a table which will soon hold a place setting bearing my name. An all-you-can-eat fat-free buffet! Yet while I’m still alive, I write stories to breathe a little life into a dying world and about  those around us who are selfless servants across the nation.

Stories sparked by inspiration are my gifts to those who need reminding that someone cares and that the season for making memories is now in high gear.  For Butch and me it’s neither because it’s our birthday nor because it’s Thanksgiving around the corner.  It’s because we’re not yet corpses of turkeys after the meal, and that’s pretty remarkable considering the life I once lived.

So as servants all over and the many heeding quiet summons as early morning cooks in country kitchens everywhere, my wish is that we all extend invitations to the uninvited, and write an unforgettable chapter in the lonely life of someone who needs a good friend and a hot meal.