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.