Thursday, November 22, 2012

Different Thanksgivings

This was a different Thanksgiving, as most of my Thanksgivings have been over the past few decades.  I'm remembering Thanksgivings with friends in Washington, DC and at outdoor cafes on 17th Street; with friends in St. Petersburg, Florida, where it was balmy and we ended the day with a walk on the beach at sunset.  I traveled to Toledo and Tallahassee, from wherever I happened to be, to spend Thanksgivings with my kids, my mom and Loren, Andy and her family. I remember Thanksgivings in Ukraine with host moms, Peace Corps friends, and members of the English Club (explaining the meaning of the day), as well as in other far away places. My first year in Starobelsk Luba made borscht, verenaky and a fresh pumpkin pie, just for her Amerikanka.  Last year we had a traditional family Thanksgiving at Michelle's, in her new home, decorated for the season, with all the grandkids around. Shel cooked up a storm: Turkey and all the trimmings, and then some.  We gave thanks and felt blessed to share time together.  

This year? Different yet again. All the grandkids are with their dads and other extended family and Michelle is working the holiday and through the weekend, 12 to 16-hour shifts at the hospital.  Women are having difficult pregnancies or going into labor too soon; babies are being born.  

So, it was just me and daughter Elissa this year. We decided to have our meal at the Dragonfly cafe, down the Street.  She walked a block north, I walked a block south, and we met in the middle. 

It felt just right.  It was a calm, sunny, blue-sky day. Christmas decorations graced Main Street.  Elissa looked beautiful.  The "Fly's" great cook, manager and owner, Jennifer Miller Blakeman, and her crew of dedicated helpers, in and out of the kitchen, presented a delicious meal.  We filled up on roasted gluton-free chicken and cornish hen, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans and other vegetables, great salad and fruit, nice desserts.  The place filled up; the guests were friendly, the atmosphere homey and warm.   We greeted each other, smiled, chatted a bit, and agreed that this was a great way to spend Thanksgiving, with whomever we were with--spouses, moms, children, grandchildren, strangers--letting someone else do the cooking and play host.  I was happy to be with Elissa.

Then Jennifer announced that dinner was on her! My treat, she told us; she wanted to give back to those who had given to her. Her grateful guests left money, whatever we could, in a glass donation jar, grateful that the spirit of Thanksgiving was alive and well. That's why the Dragonfly is special. 

A graceful spirit hovered, maybe an angel, maybe my brother Loren, for sure an aura of gratitude and harmony.      

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