Jolly Holiday

I’ve always loved Thanksgiving. The whole concept of family together, helping prepare a feast, sharing our day with people we love, really appealed to me.

One of the most memorable Thanksgivings I’ve had was when my son and I helped at Dutchess Outreach, a food bank/soup kitchen program, in Poughkeepsie, New York. Instead of traveling, I opted to stay at home and share the day with my son and people who needed something – and someone – to be thankful for.

When we arrived, they had us serve food to people, putting food on their plates and wishing them a happy holiday. The food was appetizing and plentiful. People smiled and were in good spirits. Both my son and I joined the throng and enjoyed the food, as well, once we’d served everyone.

Then, knowing I had a car, the manager asked me to make a delivery to a family that couldn’t get to the feast. Of course, I agreed. We loaded the car with a feast fit for a large family. As it turned out, it was a large family we were serving.

Thanksgiving in Poughkeepsie is typically a below freezing time of year and that year was no different. When we pulled up in front of the house, a young boy of about ten hurried out to greet us and help us bring in the food. He was barefoot.

I winced, hurrying even more to get the food inside before the boy froze in his inadequately warm clothing.

As we entered the living room, I saw that the radiator had a frozen puddle on the floor beneath it. The room was cold.

We brought the feast in and headed to the kitchen. The mom thanked us profusely and we wished them the happiest holiday. I also asked about the heating situation. She said she’d called the landlord, but it didn’t sound like he cared to interrupt his holiday festivities to help the family stay warm.

During this whole interaction, my son was extremely quiet. His eyes registered what he was seeing. Normally a talkative child, he didn’t make a single comment, other than to smile at the family and wish them happy holidays, too.

We returned to the soup kitchen and reported what we’d seen. I asked them if they could follow up, hoping they knew which agency to remedy the situation and help the family.

I did not find out what happened. What I do know is that the day influenced my son greatly. He now knew what he had to be thankful for – and so did I even more than before.

This season has been an eventful one for my family and me. My father died, which served as a backdrop to examine life from a new perspective. Appreciating the people I know and life has been high on my list.

While wishing all of you who read this a healthy and happy holiday, I hope that you have not experienced the loss of a loved one as a perspective from which to examine your life.

Cherish your life and those who share it with you.

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