I remember being alone on Thanksgiving. Also remember my first plane ride. And. Remember my first time in a bar.
Was 1958. I had flown from San Francisco to Chicago to attend a meeting of the Youth Fellowship Cabinet of the newly formed United Church of Christ, which was birthed June of 1957.
The red-eye flight—price was cheaper that Wednesday night—was a propeller plane with engines that flashed, like a fire. My life insurance was paid up.
Took a bus from O’Hare Airport to the Chicago downtown YMCA, the least expensive room I could find. [I could have said cheap or got high-brow with being parsimonious, but decline both options.]
The meeting didn’t start until Friday morning. The Y’s lobby had old, mostly torn magazines. And no television. Well, for an university freshman to not see football on Thanksgiving. That was no option. Walked down a few blocks and saw a bar, looked through the window and saw the Detroit Lions game on their 18” television screen. Went in.
They had a kitchen, so ordered orange juice [just that for those taking notes] and English muffins. Never was a beer guy and hadn’t yet discovered single malt.
Watched the game.
Walked back to the Y, did have a good coat buffeting the chilly sub-zero wind. At the time I had heard Chicago was a windy city, which learned even later that had to do with political speeches and not climate.
Went back to the television-less Y room, got ready for my meeting, which took place the next morning.
Flew back to San Francisco Friday afternoon—still daylight so I couldn’t see if the engines were flaming.
Truth? I decided not to look out the window in case they were.
Thanksgiving. 1958. Chicago. Alone. Not with anyone. No cell phone. No computer. But, starkly, alone.
Fast forward to today. Not alone. Blessed to help Diane prepare the fruit salad. She’s doing the pumpkin pie. I know my culinary limits.
Not alone. Faith is with us…and shortly she will go to the front door, look back to me. The body language is never ambiguous, “Well? You ready for me to take you on our morning walk?”
This afternoon will be with Paul and Kathie…their invitation. And other friends. Being together. With prayers of gratitude. Also prayers of healing for a dear colleague who just had major surgery. And for family and all whom I will name in my own prayers…it won’t be a short prayer…but will be so gooooood to know God hears and God cares and God’s promise will always be kept, to be with us. Which brings the deeper verity: God IS with us.
To each of you: May you have a good Thanksgiving…and celebrate that thanksgiving can be more than a day…it can be a manner of living.