29 November 2009, Sunday after Thanksgiving
I spent the morning volunteering in a soup kitchen today.
I drove away in my warm car with Kings of Leon on full blast and came home to a warm house, a lighted Christmas tree and three warm hugs. Hubby prepared me a turkey sandwich and listened while I told him about the family that came through the line--the mom batting her little girl's hand away from the piece of cake ("not until you've eaten your rice and chicken!")...about the pregnant teenager who laughed as she struggled to get out of her chair...about the woman who thanked us profusely ("GodblessyouGodblessyouGodblessyou") as she filled her tray with the meager offerings...about the men who would not look us in the eye...about the woman who asked for 6 sugar packets for her Gatorade...about the man who scooped all the leftover butter from every table onto a paper plate to take away with him...and so on....
Since my family had already eaten lunch, I munched on my sandwich in front of the television and together with my toddler (we'll call her Baby Sweet), I watched Wow Wow Wubbzy while my twelve year old (we'll call her Precious) worked on embroidering some Christmas gifts. When I was all done with my late lunch, my always thoughtful Precious brought me a piece of pumpkin pie with a dab of whipped cream, and Baby Sweet gave me a candy cane kiss and a plea for a round of ring around the rosie.
I played ring around the rosie with Baby Sweet in the center of our living room, careful not to smash into the Christmas tree or the piano bench. After falling several times, I decided (my willpower being all but demolished from the Thanksiving holiday) to also eat a piece of cheesecake that I made for a late Thanksgiving with my side of the family yesterday. The cheesecake was surprisingly good--always better after it sits a day or two--made with five packages of cream cheese and sour cream, loaded up with cherries. Finally, stuffed to the brim, I sat down on my comfy couch to cuddle with my children. We changed the channel to some Christmas movie on ABCFamily, and I promptly fell asleep. When I woke up, daylight was all but gone, and my feet were toasty warm, wrapped in a blanket (presumably by Precious).
Friday, this was my Facebook Status: Shopped my head off today in record time! Now wondering if it would cause a lifetime of therapy to have my children wrap their own presents. Just kidding. Mostly.
Not so much.
There was a man that came through the line today that caught me off guard. He wore department store suit pants, a v-neck sweater with a tie, of which only the knot showed above the V, and scuffed loafers that dragged across the concrete floor of the soup kitchen. He would not look me in the eye as I handed him a plastic fork and spoon wrapped in a paper napkin. He picked up a plastic cup filled with iced tea, mumbled a thank you into his chest and walked away. His hair was combed back as if there had been a time he used to put gel in it.
Today, I am humbled. Today, I am reminded of all that I have to lose. One false move...one unlucky strike...one unexpected fall of the hammer....
I have one manuscript to brush off, touch up, and continue to query as well as another one I'm working on finishing. I also have an interview to post, a clever exchange between the very talented Courtney Reese and the main character of her novel--be sure to look for it tomorrow. But tonight, even though I'm anxious to get back to writing after a four day hiatus, I'm going to go back downstairs and do absolutely nothing--and everything--with my family. I might have another piece of pumpkin pie because it's there, and I don't want it to go to waste. But I can't imagine now spending the rest of my evening away from the people I cherish most just to put words on a screen.
Go hug somebody and be grateful.