For Love of God, Family, and Community

JayeByrd By JayeByrd, 21st Jul 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Volunteering

A reminiscence of Thanksgiving Days spent giving of ourselves.

Early Morning Start

The phone rang at 6:15 a.m. The person on the line wanted to call in an order for lunches for three people. It was Thanksgiving Day; the restaurant, closed to the public that day, was run by a couple of the most warm-hearted men you could ever meet. They would provide dinner to all who called in early to order delivered lunches, or came into the restaurant between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Volunteers swarmed in to do their part.


The mother of one of these men always had extra people at the Thanksgiving table. She invited those who didn't have family living close, those who were on a tight budget, those who lived alone and might be lonely. She saw to it as many people as possible had a Thanksgiving dinner among friends. After she died, the two men carried on the tradition.
Volunteers became part of the family on Thanksgiving Day.

Getting Ready to Work

The two men who ran the restaurant started preparations in October for the Thanksgiving dinner. They made arrangements for the food they would need to prepare and gathered together what was needed. Some local businesses donated food; other business and individuals donated money to cover the costs of items other than food. Many people either donated time away from their families, or more likely, brought their families along to help.
The logistics were unreal.

Now We're Cooking

Imagine thawing fourteen or fifteen turkeys, roasting them, making dressing, peeling, cooking, and mashing a comparable amount of potatoes, and making gravy. There would be cranberries, coleslaw, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, country ham, regular ham, rolls and butter, pumpkin and pecan pies, brownies and cookies, iced tea, and coffee. It was a tremendous undertaking, a labor of love carried out every year.

Called to be Servants

Most of us arrived at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
Volunteers handled setting up the dining room, and making coffee.
People unable to come to the restaurant for their meal could call in and have lunch delivered. I was there to take delivery orders. Teenagers driving Mom or Dad's car made most of the deliveries.
One man called in on behalf of eight single women who live in the same apartment building. They couldn't get out and he said their Thanksgiving might be a bit sparse without a dinner. Bless him for thinking of others.
The men set up a long, steam table, but as fast as the pans emptied, the steam wouldn't have been necessary; the food didn't have a chance to cool off. Boxed lunches were assembled and given to volunteers to deliver, some destinations as many as twelve to fifteen miles away.
At 11 a.m. the guests started through the line. Volunteers were on hand to serve the plates. Other volunteers poured coffee and tea and bussed tables.
The serving line would be pretty constant the whole two hours with almost four-hundred people served either in the restaurant or with boxed lunches delivered to them.

Always a Great Day

The food was excellent; both of the guys were great cooks and they had good employees in the kitchen.
No one was ever charged for anything. If people wanted to make a donation, they had to ask someone where they could donate. It just didn't enter ordinary conversation on that day.
Everyone would be exhausted when the day was over, but it was the tiredness of satisfaction of a job well done.

Fond Memories

There weren't many dry eyes when news of a fire at the restaurant made the rounds. The two buildings occupied by the restaurant were burned to the ground and a third, adjoining building was so badly damaged it had to be demolished. They were unable to rebuild.
I miss my Thanksgivings there, helping take orders, serving plates, having a chance to talk with guests while they were waiting. Every year I say a special "Thanks, God," for giving me a chance to participate several years in the event. Everyone who helped always said it was the best way to spend Thanksgiving Days.


Holidays, Thanksgiving Dinner, Volunteering

Meet the author

author avatar JayeByrd
I'm well into my fourth career. I write Opinion pieces, usually political. I write eclectic poetry, short stories, and essays. I also edit and teach writing.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
21st Jul 2014 (#)

Uplifting post but every good thing has an end too. Such times will live forever in our memory. Hopefully, it can be revived - siva

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author avatar JayeByrd
21st Jul 2014 (#)

Thank you. You mirror my thoughts.

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