Gathering Around the Table

This year as we gather around the table to enjoy the holidays, I am looking at my table at a different angle.  As many of you know, I love to bring life and texture and all things lovely to make my table a place where friends and family want to sit and linger. There will be greenery, the soft glow of candlelight, something shiny to catch your eye, and there will be fresh cranberries strewn along the tablescape to add a burst of color.

But this year, I am looking... not at the tablescape, as festive as it can be, but at the table itself.

 

I remember, not so long ago, a few of us had a girls night out at one of our social workers home. The girls in our program had expressed a desire to get together just for fun.

So that we did.

I recall going to the market on my way there and loading my basket with all the munchies I could think of so the girls could have a table full of choices, delightful choices... comfort food.

Ok.... lots of carbs and lots of chocolate. Let's be honest!

When we were getting ready to eat, Lisa, our social worker had said, "Okay, get what you want and we can just eat wherever.  We can eat here at the table (which was piled with food and other daily items) or go in the family room and gather around the tv and snuggle and watch our movie, which is the direction she had prepared for.

Everyone said they didn't care and prepared to enter the family room until one young girl, Kaydee, quietly said, "Here. Let's eat here."

I then said, "Here,  at the table?"

She replied, "Yes, here."

We all sat at the table and ate our dinner together.

We took turns and told stories.

We laughed together.

We cried together.

We sat at the table and enjoyed every moment. We enjoyed the presence of each other.

At one point, I asked Kaydee, why she wanted to eat at the table tonight?

She told us that the only time she remembered eating at a table was at her grandfather's house for Thanksgivings when she was younger.

"I just really wanted to eat at a table with you guys tonight," she said. "It has been a long time."

During this festive season, I am looking at my table at a different angle. The centerpiece is not quite as important as it used to be, nor is it the culinary masterpieces delivered.

It is the people who are sitting at the table.  It is the joining of conversations. The stories. The laughter that lingers.

This year, I am especially thankful. I know I speak on behalf of all Compassion Planet staff, for those of you who continue to support us by shopping, volunteering, and/or giving to this organization.

Because of you, there is not one person in our program who will not be invited to a  table surrounded by people who care this year. This was not everyone's story years past.

Thank you for your part in helping us give them tradition and celebration during this rocky road these young people are traveling. Let's just say, holidays can difficult. Hearing laughter, letting their guard down, and just enjoying time together is a true and precious gift. Savor your time at the table this year. 

 

Thankful, 

Conni

Fall is in the air!

1000 pumpkins were delivered to Deer Creek Farm this month and we been officially open for business.  A pumpkin patch; a first for Compassion Planet/Deer Creek Farm!

To be perfectly honest, at one point I had to ask myself, "What in the world are we doing?  We can not compete with those massive ranches with concession stands, mechanical rides, trains and all the newest brightest gadgets which technology has to offer."  

Then clarity came. We are just us. We don't have to compete.  We are community.  We have a purpose and cause which is worth every effort; young people who need us, the community, to help them.

We are simple.  We have pumpkins.  We make our own hot apple cider and have drinks in a cooler with ice.  We have corn and tonka trucks for the little ones to play with.  We have a couple of games under the large oak tree.  Games which gather people together. We have wonderful volunteers who donate their time to work the pumpkin patch and some bring their children to make it a family event.  We have homemade scarecrows from locals who entered our contest and we made a tic tac toe game out of wood and duct tape!

The pumpkin patch is a place to relax and enjoy.  You can take a deep breath and enjoy a game of corn holes . There is plenty of space to roam and  take in the trivia that the corn stalks were grown and given to us, for this space, because of the young people it benefits.  The lines are short, usually one or two folks ahead of you.  And you can get the best homemade white chocolate popcorn you have ever tasted, right inside the store!

If you look around, you might spot some of our favorite customers.  They are about 3' tall, a bit wobbly when they walk and their eyes wide with excitement.  When they see the pumpkin which is theirs, you will know it!  "That one, that one" a tiny  voice will exclaim , with outstretched arms pointing to the third pumpkin from the left.  Short pudgy fingers grasp the orange itty bitty  pumpkin and hold it close to them as they make the rickety ride in our second generation wagons .  Life is good.

We are a small pumpkin patch with a huge heart and a grand purpose behind every pumpkin sold....a young adult who needs our help.  We have community who embraces us and participates. Many, many hands have come to help. That is what I love.

As we watched the day unfold, one of our trainees said she had never been to a pumpkin patch.  My mind replayed the many pumpkin farms I have been to over the years.

I responded, "This the best pumpkin patch you will visit.  It has everything you need...Pumpkins with a purpose.  Community. People helping because they want to. Hot apple cider."  I know this is the place and experience I want etched in her mind as the years fast forward.

At the end of the day, when evening is settling down on the pumpkin patch and all is quiet, I close the big red gate and water the mums in our pots by the haystack.  

I pause and and am amazed we did a pumpkin patch... just for her.  I mean, for everyone.

Serving the cause,

Conni

Welcome Autumn

Goodbye Summer. Hello Autumn!

Although it may not be time to fully transition to my favorite hoodie and comfy boots, they are positioned and waiting for the perfect fall day to be utilized.

Until then, I have resigned to embrace the hints of fall, tiny as they may be. My senses are heightened as I notice a few leaves changing their colors to rich reds and bright yellows. My eye catches a lone leaf caught in the swirl of the morning breeze. I will celebrate the little things in life. 

I walk the garden in search of the “imperfect, perfect” pumpkin. Will it be dark orange or will it be creamy white? Flat and squatty or tall and slender? I do know every pumpkin has flaws, and that is the joy of the imperfect pumpkin. There is no mold. There are no two alike. They each have their own personality. It is unique, it stands out; it catches my eye. It is the imperfect, perfect pumpkin. The pumpkin will be the centerpiece for gatherings and quiet evenings. 

Today is the first day of Fall. I will bring those warm autumn colors into my home and enjoy the bounty of the season. Pumpkins, gourds and the glistening glow of candles all bring a warm welcome home after a long day away. These are a few of my favorite fall celebrations.

Join me here and at Deer Creek Farm as we begin our Autumn Season celebrating the little things in life… the imperfect, perfect pumpkin,

the yellow and red leaf swirling in the breeze,

and of course…the favorite hoodie!

Loving fall,

Conni, Deer Creek Farm Store Manager