Standing side by side holding hands, over 32 family members and friends formed an oblong, imperfect circle. The makeshift circle extended from the family room across the hall, jutted into the living room to the front door entrance. Charles, my brother in-law, tells all present to share a brief statement of what they are thankful for before he blesses the food we will soon be feasting upon. My sister, Evelyn, standing beside me quietly whispers to her husband there are a lot of people here and the sharing of thanks could take a long time. I smile … but I want to laugh out loud in agreement. I, like everyone present am thankful to be present with family and friends, young and old once again.
Yes, this is the season of connection for many. It is a time to give and receive thanks. It is also a time that many will give and receive gifts inspired from a sense of love and caring for others. It is that love and caring for others that inspires one to respond as they do and search for the right gift for the family and friends that are carried in their heart throughout the year and in the holiday season.
As a child I watched my parents model the gift of hospitality to those we knew but had no family near to them. Out of the blue, my parents would mention we would be having guest join us for dinner … usually on a Sunday after church or during the holidays. My brothers and I would not be happy to hear this bit of news because that meant we would have extra dishes to wash after the meal. Not liking the idea of washing even more place settings, we always groaned. My parents would look at us and smile because our response was so predictable.
My mother would frequently remind us that we were blessed as a family to have each other and love each other, because that is not true for everyone. I found that sobering because enjoying the connection with family and friends is a treasured gift and one I’d always known.
I believe, “We have more than enough to share,” was my parents’ favorite motto. I have to admit, the guests we invited over were always so appreciative to have received the invitation. The conversations we held were also quite interesting. Some of our guests became lifelong family friends. As time prevailed the connections blossomed.
It was only as an adult that I found myself alone at one time during a holiday. I was sad, but I was making adjustments and determined to “be strong and do it alone.” How I appreciated it when a neighbor, out the blue, reached out and invited me to join their family for a holiday meal so I would not have to be alone. She insisted as I initially declined the offer. I was treated as if I were a special guest in their home. Had I spent the time alone, I would have been okay … but I would have felt all alone knowing I did not really want to be alone.
I was blessed to be able to share a day with people that were, at the time, distant acquaintances. That day, I understood why my parents reached out to others at times so that they could experience the caring that prevails when breaking bread with family and friends.
Is there room for one more at your table?
Regina Gale is a Singer, Poet and Speaker. The author of “Sometimes He Buys Me Grapes” a touching and candid perspective of life from a seasoned woman’s heart. www.reginagale.com.