And so this is Thanksgiving…
This morning I will be raking leaves and planting bulbs in our little patch of garden, out front of our condo building. Tomorrow is the last day for yard waste pickup in our neighborhood. They really should extend it a few weeks, now that the leaves stay green and on the trees until well into November. (Climate change, anyone?) We have an exceptionally leafy Chinese dogwood out front, and while most of its leaves have turned, they have not yet fallen.
I’ll give the tree a bit of a shake to get a few more leaves for the pile, but some of those leaves will have to wait for spring.
Once I’ve raked, I’ll plant my crocus, hyacinth, daffodil, and tulip bulbs, cursing myself for having bought so many. (What was I thinking?) But I’ll forge on, knowing that I will be most delighted to see them start to shoot up in the late winter/early spring. (There’s nothing like that first crocus, after a miserable New England winter. Climate change may be attenuating our weather somewhat, but there will no doubt be enough snow, ice, sleet, and slush to satisfy the flintiest of New England hearts.)
I’m not much of a gardener, but for those couple of weeks when the tulips are in bloom, our little 80 square feet looks fabulous.
Early afternoon, I will be going over the (Muddy) River, but not through the woods, to my sister’s in Brookline, where there will be plenty of food, wine, talk, and laughter – all of which I will be thankful for.
Thanksgiving is such a wonderful holiday!
Although the consumer engine tries its damnedest to intrude – the malls will be open before the last wishbone has been snapped – it remains, at heart, a blessedly non-commercial, gift-free event.
While I’m at Kath and Rick’s, enjoying their tremendous hospitality, St. Francis House will be feeding 500 of Boston’s poor and homeless.
Everyone has their favored charities, and St. Francis House heads my list.
For over 25 years, “Frank’s” (as it’s known in street parlance) has been providing basic and rehabilitative services to Boston’s poor and homeless. In the last year, they’ve:
Served more than 382,588 meals
Provided more than 8,700 showers
Distributed more than 13,000 changes of clothes
Provided more than 16,000 counseling sessions
Partnered with Boston Health Care for the Homeless to provide nearly 9,000 medical appointments
Advised guests in more than 10,000 sessions on substance abuse, housing, employment, legal matters, and other issues
Trained 156 people in our First Step Employment Program
Graduated the 100th class from the Moving Ahead Program (MAP), our vocational rehabilitation program, whose alumni now number more than 1,100
Housed 56 men and women in our Next Step Housing Program
I was at the 100th MAP graduation mentioned in the SFH list, and heard each of the grads talk about how grateful they were for the help the program has given them in their efforts to reclaim lives that had been lost to substance abuse, crime, or just plain rotten luck. One of the grads was a “Worcester girl”. When I spoke with her after the graduation, I learned she was also an alumna of South High, the public high school for the neighborhood I grew up in. My father was a proud member of the Class of 1929. (None of his kids followed in his path: we all went to Catholic school.)
This is not the only “small world” experience I’ve had with one of the guests at St. Francis.
A couple of years ago, I was in the Art Room, chatting with a volunteer, who mentioned that he was a student at Emmanuel College, my alma mater. A fellow who was working on an art project overheard us, and said that his former sister-in-law, and her mother, were both “Emmas.”
Figuring, what the hell, I asked their names.
Not only was “Peter’s” former sister-in-law in my college class, she’d been in my high school class as well. While we had drifted apart during college and after, we’d been pretty good friends during high school, and I’d known her and her family quite well.
I often tell this story to show just how six degrees of Kevin Bacon we are to folks who find themselves in need of the services of a St. Francis House.
Objects in mirror are closer than they appear….
This has been a tough couple of years for so many folks.
Even if we’re working, we’re nervous about how long we’ll be able to hang on to our jobs, and if and when we’ll ever be able to retire. We worry about whether we paid too much for our homes, and panic about being underwater if and when we need to sell. We’re worried about health care, and college for the kids. Not to mention what happens after college to the kids. We fret about the economy, the polity, and the environment.
Still, if you’re reading this blog, there’s no doubt in my mind that you have plenty to be thankful for.
If you’re looking to make an end-of-year donation somewhere, St. Francis House is a mighty worthy cause.
Here’s last year’s Thanksgiving Day post. If nothing else, I guess it can be said that I’m consistent.