Thursday, November 23, 2006

HOME for the Holiday: a memory

I was going to write about what I'm thankful for; you'll read dozens of those posts today. I don't need to add to that.

I was going to write about what we're doing today as a family of two. (we're going to the movies). How boring.

But I recalled the other day some of the non-traditional holidays I've spent, and thought instead I'd share those memories.

First, the backstory: the couple years before I married, I was working full-time, going to grad school in the evenings/ or going to grad school full-time. All the while I volunteered for Red Cross Disaster Services, covering shifts one weekend a month and all holidays. (yeah, where did I get the energy? And why don't I have it now?). I lived alone, my sibs were married (a couple with kids) and often spending the time with their other family. So we didn't have a big family activity planned. There were still people who would need our services, so I volunteered.

A day or two before Thanksgiving one year, we met a young woman with an infant who had lost the home they were crashing in to a fire. She also lost everything for the baby. For a reason that totally escapes me, we ended up placing her in a battered woman's shelter for a couple days. (yeah, did you know the Red Cross did all this?)

We had gathered some baby things from other volunteers and family members, and arranged to give it to her while we were working Thanksgiving day. Talking with the shelter manager, who knew our crew would not be spending the holiday with our families, she invited us come by at dinner-time and join their household in the celebration.

I won't go into the maneuvering, code-words and secret handshakes necessary for strangers to find a battered woman's shelter... I was impressed with their dedication to secrecy. I doubt the CIA could have found me that hour or so we spent there.

We visited with the women and children living there for a few moments, then enjoyed a very traditional meal: turkey and stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, green beans and pumpkin pie. Even coffee. The women had been cooking all day...trying to instill their lives and their childrens with some semblance of a normal holiday. They were warm and welcoming though a bit quiet and subdued. The kids, too. But they let me help with the dishes until we had to leave. Doing the dishes has been my adult holiday "responsibility".

Oh, and one simple thing I'm thankful for today? I've finally started rocking on my JayWalker socks (pictured)...

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractionslater today. I'll react to the new James Bond movie.

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