Thursday, November 27, 2014

A heart full of thanks.

Heavy snow fell across Massachusetts yesterday, delaying flights out of Logan and causing traffic on highways on the day before the biggest travel holiday of the year: Thanksgiving. We in Stoneham were lucky to get only a few inches of snow, but the last few hours of the storm was all hail, which formed an ice-crust over everything, encasing the walkway and our cars. 

This morning, I bundled up and went out to shovel for us and our downstairs neighbor. I cleared the walkway, the sidewalk, and our cars. Even though I only needed the left side of my car cleared, I thought, "shoveling is good exercise! I'll shovel all around my car, burn some calories pre-Thanksgiving feast!"

That's when I discovered that my right front tire was frozen into a completely flat shape, like a sad Thanksgiving frown. I immediately recalled that on the way to my Social Psychology midterm on Monday evening, I'd been behind an accident and run over some road debris. It didn't sound good when I hit it, but nothing seemed wrong on the rest of my drive to the test, and I forgot to check it before or after the drive home. I haven't driven my car since then, so I guess the tire's been out there leaking for days.

Speaking of leaking... when I called my grandmother to tell her that I wasn't sure how I could get to her for Thanksgiving because of the tire, I could hear the warble in my voice before I even felt the tears. I hung up with her, sat down in a chair, and started to cry... 

Because everything is closed on Thanksgiving and I couldn't get a new tire... Because Dave was spending a long weekend with his family and I just wanted to get to mine... Because some people don't have families, and they're always alone on holidays! How the hungry must feel on a day marked by eating to excess! With my hands still raw and my clothes still wet from the snow, I thought of those who are perpetually cold, the hard reality of homelessness in cold weather... without any options for making it better. No Chinese takeout backup plan. No fixing the car tomorrow. No bed in which to just pull up the covers and wish it all away. The tears fell hot and wide like sheets of rain! 

I posted my predicament on FB and tossed my phone aside to indulge a moment of sadness. And then it rang! My friend Aleta had seen my post and said that she and her boyfriend were using his car to get to their celebration, and she was calling to lend me hers. I totally accepted! This is often what separates the fortunate from the destitute: a safety net that is woven by the supportive arms of friends, who lift you up in times of need, get you back up on your feet. 

I arrived at my grandparents' house in time to help out before dinner. I ate with my family: turkey and gravy, stuffing and potatoes, squash and cranberries, white wine, mandarin oranges, vanilla ice cream, and pie. After the meal, we played games; I talked on the phone with my uncle in Florida; I helped clean up in the kitchen; and there was enough for me to take a bunch of leftovers home with me -- including an entire cherry pie!

I'm so fortunate that my family is happy and healthy with warm homes in which to host each other. And I'm extra thankful for the friends in my life to whom I will always extend a helping hand, or a set of car keys, just as they would (and did today) for me. 

Happy Thanksgiving!