Food for the Soul
A Heaping Helping of Community Spirit
There are many reasons I particularly like November. Itís
time to dig out the warm, fuzzy socks. Itís time to don cozy fleece shirts.
Itís time to lay in a supply of cocoa and bake some bread. Itís time for a
delightful glow to emanate once again from the fireplace.
Best of all, itís time for Thanksgiving.
I am especially thankful for Thanks≠giving this year,
because I missed it last year. Iím sure they served me something special for
dinner in the hospital; I just donít remember what it was. I do remember
that I somehow managed to win the door prize at Bathís community
Thanksgiving dinner, even though I was in my hospital bed at the time.
Thatís one of the many wonderful things about rural
living. If youíre missed at a particular event, first they pray for you, and
then someone brings you something.
Our community Thanksgiving feast is a marvelous,
miraculous thing. It started years ago, with one family leading the charge.
The firehouse in Hot Springs was offered as a site for the celebration. The
call went out far and wide for folks to come, and to please bring a dish of
something ó anything ó to share with everyone else. Tables were dressed with
happy little turkey-type decorations. Generous folks donated turkeys. A team
spent half the night and most of the next day cooking them. Then, a couple
of the more expert knife-wielders came in and carved for hours.
As time passed, so did many of those who spearheaded
things in the early days. For a short period, it looked as if the feast
might fall by the wayside. But miraculously, other good-hearted organizers
stepped up to the plate, so to speak. And the feast continued.
The dinner starts at noon. Anyone can come, and lots of
people do. Though itís not required, most everyone brings something ó
potatoes, dressing, ham, rolls, relishes, green beans, squash, countless
desserts. Some send food, even if they canít join in the feast. It is all
One year, we ended up with just one bowl of mashed
potatoes. They went fast. The next year, we had about a dozen bowls heaped
with hot potatoes. One woman, famed for her excellent homemade rolls, hauls
in about 17 dozen of the tasty things just before the dinner bell rings. Me?
Well, I make sure thereís plenty of real butter.
Even when Mom was alive, Iíd stop by the firehouse to at
least take a picture for the paper and maybe snatch a piece of turkey and a
hot roll before heading home to Momís incomparable dinner.
Now, Iím there in Momís apron every year. She died in
September 2005. That year, I was dismayed to burst into tears right before
the feast began. A caring crowd surrounded me and soon enough, I was feeling
happy and hungry again. Rural living is like that.
Thereís much thatís miraculous about our community
Thanksgiving. Even though no one makes a list of whoís bringing what, we end
up with everything we need and much, much more. We do make a list of the
old, infirm dears who need a ride; then, a team goes to pick them up and
bring them to us.
It is a perfect mix of people ó a cross-sampling of
society. A millionaire in a cashmere jacket has a great time conversing with
the stranger next to him, who probably hasnít had a hearty, decent meal in
days. People from far-flung corners plan to sit beside one another during
their annual get-together, and pick up their conversations yet again.
When weíre done, a self-appointed team gets busy making
to-go plates for shut-ins and hunting husbands and anyone who might need a
yummy supper later. An attorney and a county supervisor roll up their
sleeves and wash hundreds of dishes. Someone thinks about a poor hermitís
dogs, heaps up several plates with meat, and drops it off on her way home.
It is all supremely heart-warming.
This year, our feast might not happen. The organizer, who
has more pressing obligations, put an ad in the paper, asking someone else
to step into her hard-to-fill shoes. So far, no one has jumped in to take on
the responsibility. Maybe, like me, theyíre thinking, ďIíd do it, but ÖĒ
As I sit here, though, my mind is changing. I know itís
the Spirit of Mom, compelling me from beyond to take on good deeds.
Happy holidays, everyone!