November is American Indian Heritage Month, Homeless Youth Awareness Month, Adoption Month, Hospice Month and Kidney Month.Thanks to our Evanston librarian for this information.

Melissa had lived a comfortable life while her husband was alive, but now, as a retired, widowed senior citizen, times were hard.  Her investments had plummeted. 

Sentimentality made Melissa hold on to the huge house she had shared with her husband and adopted children. To pay property taxes, utility bills and put food on her table, Melissa decided to rent some rooms.  She asked an agency to help screen potential boarders.

Melissa gave her boarders kitchen privileges and permitted them to put their labeled frozen foods in her large freezer, but to avoid any confusion, they had to store their other perishable foods in the small refrigerators in their rooms. 

The layout of Melissa’s house allowed boarders to go to the kitchen as well as enter and exit the house without passing through the rooms downstairs. This gave Melissa and her boarders privacy, but it also limited social exchanges between them.

As Thanksgiving approached, Melissa dreaded the thought of being without her family on that day. Her kids would be with their in-laws. 

So Melissa decided to ask her boarders to share Thanksgiving with her. She cut a piece of orange paper into the shape of a turkey on which she wrote: “Dear Maria, Miwok, Omar, Jacob and Li-Chun, I’d love to share Thanksgiving Day with you. Together, we can cook and enjoy our favorite foods. Let me know if you can join me. Warm wishes, Melissa.”

Melissa taped the invitation to the inside of the entry door. All of her boarders accepted her invitation.

On Thanksgiving Day, Melissa was giddy. She got up early, made coffee and placed bagels, pastries, fruit, nuts and other refreshments on a kitchen counter.  She decorated and set the dining room table. By the time Melissa’s boarders came down to the kitchen, Melissa’s turkey had been cooking for several hours. As Melissa and her boarders prepared their dishes, they listened to and sang songs and talked about their experiences and families.

When dinner was ready and Melissa and her boarders were seated at the table, the doorbell rang. Melissa went to the door and ushered in a mother with two children. 

She hung up their coats, led them to the table and introduced them to everyone.  The three guests sat down. Melissa did not tell her boarders that this was a homeless family she met at a soup kitchen; they didn’t need to know. 

After everyone had plates of food before them, Melissa asked everyone to say what he/she was most thankful for. 

Melissa was the last to speak. “I am most thankful for all of you giving of yourselves by sharing this day.” She raised her glass in a toast and everyone joined in. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...