On Thanksgiving Day The May Queen and I journeyed with a rather large group of people from my church to a shelter in the city. This shelter flooded during Katrina, and our congregation has been working hard to help them reopen their doors, which they did just about a month ago. The shelter takes in homeless women and their children, and works to help them get a job and a home. They provide childcare, education, job training, classes in cooking and parenting and money management. It is a small shelter, with strict restrictions on the residents. They expect a lot from those who use their services, but give a lot in return.
We had an embarrassing amount of people who wanted to go and help. It was a clear indicator that we need to provide more opportunities like this one. But no one minded that there were too many of us to fit in the kitchen. We played with the children in the nursery. We helped sort donations of clothes. We visited with the women and their children. Sometimes we just stood around, lost in our own thoughts. What would it be like to not have a home? To live in a place where you are at the mercy of others? To need the sort of help that these women need? What happens that these women and their children, these women with their pregnant bellies... what did life bring them that they now don't have anywhere else to go?
I felt so thankful for all that I have... even the money stresses and the husband out of town for the holiday.
Yet I got home and got the grumpies. I was lonely. I miss the holidays of my youth with lots of family, lots of laughter, a jigsaw puzzle on one table and a board game on another. The TV showing the parade and later football, but no one really watching. I was lonely in my house with just The May Queen and I. The blessings I had felt that morning were in my mind, but not so much in my heart.
So I decided to turn it around. If I'm thankful for it, I need to live that gratitude, right? So I announced that we would be eating dinner as a picnic in the living room. I spread out a blanket, turned on the gas fireplace (oh, how I miss real burning wood! but no, I would not dwell on the negative!), left the movie playing on the televison, and served leftovers on the floor. The May Queen thought this was delightful. Then I announced we would go for a walk. We bundled up and took the flashlight. The poor neighbors must have thought a drunk monkey was trying to shine a light in their windows as The May Queen pointed the flashlight at all the homes looking for the first signs of Christmas decorations. Then we held hands and skipped down the street. "This thanksgiving walk was a GREAT idea, Mama," she said. Perhaps the best compliment she has ever given me. I looked around and thanked God that I lived in a neighborhood where I felt safe taking my 5 year old for a skip around the block after dark. When we returned home we returned to the blanket in the living room for not one, but TWO servings of hot chocolate. "This hot chocolate was a GREAT idea, Mama," the May Queen enthused.
Two GREAT ideas in one night? Be still my heart.
It's amazing what a change in (gr)attitude will do. I didn't have a bustling family around me. I had a quiet evening with my lovely daughter. And I knew to be thankful for it, and acted like I was. And by the time I kissed her goodnight? Goodbye grumpies.
Your Monday Mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a post in the form of directions:
Step 1 - Curse Painted Maypole for keeping up this dratted Monday Mission thing
Step 2 - remember that you wanted to play along at some point
Step 3 - decide this week is just as good as any other lame Mission PM puts forth
Step 4 - Write a brilliant post
Step 5 - come back here on Monday and post a link to your brilliant post
Step 6 - Mission Accomplished