posted in: Family 7
Women getting ready to serve the barbeque dinner at the Pie Town, New Mexico Fair, c. 1940. Image: Wikipedia.


We had a good Thanksgiving Day here in Iowa.

It started this morning. Each Thanksgiving, my family helps prepare the free holiday meal at the Methodist Church. We’ve done this for a few years, now, and I love it. It feels good to be around other people, it feels good to help those less fortunate, it feels good to work in a kitchen. (I know my way around one, remember?)

This big holiday meal, which includes all the staples (i.e., turkey, pie, cran sauce, etc.), is served at noon in the basement of the church. But the food is also available for delivery for those who are homebound for medical reasons or who can’t drive for one reason or another. With the exception of Jack, who often helps with the gravy in the kitchen — and my step-dad, Mark, who makes the deviled eggs, grody — my family is usually put on delivery meals. We post up in the back room and get our little assembly line going: pie, roll, broccoli salad, cran sauce, egg, close the box. Stack. Repeat dozens and dozens of times.

Last year, I was on baked apple duty and even though it was a very sticky job, scooping all those hundreds of baked apples into cupcake foils, I secretly loved it. I really perfected my wrist maneuver by the end of the shift, made sure the cups didn’t squish and each apple had a good amount of sauce. The church organizers didn’t put baked apples on the menu this year, but I’d like to think I did a pretty good job with the rolls. I go with the flow.

My sister Rebecca and my cousin Greg and I went out to deliver some meals as it got closer to noon. The doors we knocked on were shabby, worn. One lady opened the door and frightened us: She had some serious sores all over her face and arms, and the apartment absolutely reeked of cigarette smoke. But she was so nice.

“Happy Thanksgiving!” we said to her, and she said, “Happy Thanksgiving!”

We went to another house where a lady sat watching TV all alone. A large doll had been placed on a chair in her living room, facing the TV, with a tea set spread out next to her. Yeah, it was spooky. It was also sad. Everyone needs friends.

Last year, there were more meals to box and more deliveries to make. I’m not sure why this year was lighter. But even if one hungry person was fed today by that church, I reckon that’s a victory for humanity, and I was glad to be there for it.

After our time with the meal, we came back home to get our own underway. My brother-in-law Jack outdid himself with the turkey this year; that is high praise, indeed.

We did the whole “go around the dinner table and say what you’re grateful for” thing.

When it got to me, I didn’t know where to start.