In my thanks-and-giving tradition (now 3 years old!), I searched for a place where I could serve, where I could connect and where I could truly GIVE... as the celebration suggests. For the first two years, I served a meal at the Music City Mission and last year I spent the afternoon hanging with kids at the Oasis Center. Both gave me a sense of nice-attempt-single-day satisfaction, which wasn't the exact feeling I was looking for, but it beat self-pity and holiday blues, hands down.
This year's charity du jour was a no-brainer: my recent discovery and newfound community of the Magdalene Program. However, my secretly selfish plan to cook an entire meal for all the women was foiled when I found out everyone was spending the holiday with their families. Probably for the best since cooking is not my speciality (who am I fooling to think I'd cook a meal for 20+ women!?)... and what a real blessing that each woman HAD a place to go to.
Instead, newcomers Demetria, Tasha and I concocted delicious side dishes to be presented to newly graduated Gwen, who could share them with her family on Thanksgiving day. As I had mentioned before, Gwen's mother passed away two weeks ago and simply preparing a portion of the meal hopefully would help ease some of the typical-holiday-stress combined with the heavy heart of spending her first holiday without her mom.
These lovely women patiently walked me through cooking basics 101, laughed at me when I couldn't figure out why you would add MORE cheese to the already cheesy Kraft family pack of Shells & Cheese and taught me the secret of all great Southern cooking -- just add more sugar.
Tasha looking even sweeter with those sweet potatoes!
Demetria laughing NEAR me, not at me (right?!)
the glorious display of 5 homemade side dishes prepared by 3 new friends for 1 deserving lady.
And then came the gift of receiving... in the form of my very first Thanksgiving in my new home. M&D made the 12+ hour trip to spend the weekend with me and I gratefully took in Mom's gentle direction in the kitchen and Dad's unstoppable determination to fix up minor house repairs. A few things I've learned in this short amount of time:
- wearing an apron makes you believe you can cook anything (had I only known it was all about accessories years ago!)
- the valve to shut off my water is located near my washer & dryer, though once we figured that out, we still had to go to Lowes to buy a handle to attach to the unit for it to actually shut off... so that my shower leak could be fixed (where's my Aleve....)
- turkey sandwiches the next day are truly the best part of the meal
- deep breaths really help soften the blow of unintentional sideways comments
- Dad watching football while Mom and I shop still applies after all these years and despite location
me & my turkey: this is the closest thing my parents will get to me holding a baby in the near future.
M&D in the kitchen -- just like old times.
what a beautiful table in a beautiful home with beautiful people to share it with.
But there is nothing sweeter than curling up with Mom, receiving the love she has showered me with for the last 33 years and hopefully giving back as much to her as her truly thankful but slightly damaged daughter could ever do.