The party is over, dishes are being stacked and sent back to their various homes. We had a great Thanksgiving with family–a loud celebration thanks to eight children, but still a celebration.
Dan and I decided two nights ago, that we wanted to go with the girls to visit our city’s nursing home Thanksgiving morning– to spend a little time talking with residents there, who had no family to visit them. Emma filled a bag with pictures she had painted and colored, and with much shyness and hesitation on her part we headed off. We randomly picked the second floor and were told there were several residents in the dining hall that hardly ever got visitors.
I have to admit, I get very shy and feel uncomfortable in these situations, but Dan can jump right in–a hand on their shoulder, talking loud enough to be heard down the hall, playing right along with the stories these strangers have to share; "Remember when we used to visit Chicago together? Wow, the girls have gotten so big since the last time I saw them…"
Generally, the men and women we met were quiet and shy. Emma did her best to introduce herself to each one, wish them a happy thanksgiving, pass out some artwork and shake their hands. Every single person we met, grabbed on to those warm little hands of hers or took hold of Mary’s chubby little thigh. I’m sure for many of them, they hadn’t seen little children in quite awhile, let alone have the opportunity to feel the soft baby skin, or squeeze a chubby thigh. Even just the activity of my two children toddling around them in the room– weaving in and out between wheelchairs and reclining beds, looking out windows, finding art supplies in the corner, tipping over a bucket of markers– brought some excitement, warmth and joy to the room.
I left there feeling sad for those forgotten or left behind, braver for being able to touch and talk to these people who our culture hides and who I often feel strange and awkward around, proud of my children who can look at them and talk to them without any fear, and who were more and more outgoing as the morning went on. We’ll go back. Soon and often.