If your eyes had never rested upon a textbook story you would have believed that the first pilgrims and indians shared arroz con pollo and Capri Sun while singing to Justin Bieber.
One Little Pilgrim slips her hand under the table to find the grip of another Little Indian whose headdress is held up by plastic flower hair clips. They are a part of circle of 22 four-year-olds all taking turns proclaiming what they are most thankful for.
A parade of Mommies, Daddies, TiTis, and others, spill from their mouths as they listen intently to one another. It is the first moment of silence I have welcomed all year with these Little Ones.
I fit perfectly around the table with my preschoolers as we celebrated Thanksgiving on Tuesday. But my mind kept inching back to a different table that I will not be sitting around this year.
This will be the first year where I don't take my seat at a long familiar table that still carries my initials within its wooden spine. This Thanksgiving, instead of being home, I will celebrate the holiday with seven other volunteers in my program. Sharing Stories. Enjoying Community. Sharing Hot Coffee as We Make our Way to See the Big Balloons Come Sasheying Down 34th Street. I am sure that even in our unity we will still find our minds meandering to our own memories of being home for the holidays.
Home. Funny how most stories seem to drift back to this word these days.
I adore when my words are able to play tag with those of a dear friend. Just like Little Children who Run and Run, Ignoring the Street Lights as They Come On. Libby wrote about "home" recently and what compels an individual to allow a four-letter word to play piggy back upon a spot on a map.
If you had asked me a week ago I would have certainly told you that Home is a place that I miss greatly. Home is not the Bronx. Home is not Manhattan. Home is not New York City.
Perhaps just seven days ago I believed that Home was a place to be, a destination after three clicks of your red heels, a spot of comfort to fall into when you feel at odds with the world around you. More and more these days, I am beginning to see that home is not a place where we go but rather something that we can give to one another. Maybe I just choose this definition during this holiday season because it leaves me believing that I am never far from home. That I am Never Without Home.
Home is something you can find in a letter from a best friend. She Writes her Words Pumped with Love and Pride, her Syllables Bursting with Life. They fill you better than the Floats that gulp air in the Macy's Day Parade.
Home is in a single swipe of a gift card from a friend, a Push for you to Purchase a Pumpkin Spice Latte and Pretend as if a Coffee Date is Among You. You practically cry in taking the first sip, wishing you had accidentally just bumped knees with her from under the table.
Home is receiving a package in the mail from your mother, filled to the brim with organic food favorites wrapped within a Bright Yellow Towel. You puzzle at the Yellow Towel until you read the card from her, "When I was in New Mexico for some holiday I remember a package from my mother with a beautiful yellow towel in it so I will continue the comfort and color of this tradition."
Home is a gift. And also a Give.
We can give Home to someone else by holding their Tiny Brown Hands and wiping their tears, so as to make sure that the Indian Man Painted Upon Their Face does not get Washed Away in the Flood.
We give someone Home by brewing a cup of Hot Chocolate and Meeting Them Face-to -Face for a Skype Date. Sitting Cross-Legged on the Floor, Laughing as if Shoulders were Touching.
I guess it comes with the growing up, this realization that we may not always be "home for the holidays." While I am tempted to tackle people who drape clichés all over the world like Holly and Ivy, acting like they are next big thing, I am quite torn because those clichés are famous for a reason. We like to find Home in one another. There is no place like Home. Home is where the Heart Is. But why all the heartache in stapling Home to a place? Why not carry Home with us wherever we go, sprinkling it like confectionary sugar upon the people we encounter who need a little less of that heartache and a little more Home?
I pray you Find Home and Give Home this Thanksgiving Holiday.
Link Arms. Laugh Wildly. Dance Outrageously. Watch the Parade or Go to the Parade. Better yet, Make your Own Parade. Sing Carols. Play Chimes. Ring Bells. Don't say it's too early for all of that Ruckus, Rejoice in the Ruckus. Pack up your purse and get out there for Black Friday, just to say you tried it once. Eat til your Stuffed. Thank God for that Food. Pray for Those without it. Make Jokes. Catch up with Old Friends. Wear a Ridiculous Holiday Apron. Smile at the Little Ones as they play before dinner. Hug your Mom. Dad. Sister. Uncle. Grandma. Smell them too. Yes, Smell Them Too. Sip in the atmosphere alongside the Cider. Breathe in the essence along with the Sweet Aromas. Deck the halls. Deck the walls. Watch the Grinch but don't be one. Welcome the Holiday Season with Open Arms. Put down the to-do list and just sit down, around Loved Ones. Take time to Count Your Blessings, one by one by one by one.
Split the Holiday into two parts, like two identical twins who both compete for their mother's love, knowing all the while that they are absolutely equal. Thanks & Giving. Both loved equally and the same. Do your share of both this season. Thanking & Giving.
Stop the bickering. Stop the comparing. Stop the doing. But Never Stop the Thanking or the Giving.