As we gather around our Thanksgiving table with family this week I'll make a space for my invisible guest. It's a person no longer with me on Earth but still close by in spirit. My friend, Julie, who spent one of her last Thanksgivings alive by herself with her dog, Joe. She was too proud to tell anyone she had no plans, and I was an ocean away when I called to wish her Happy Thanksgiving and discovered she was alone eating takeout in her small New York studio apartment.
Her voice, silenced at 46 from cancer, still echoes in my mind with the message: "Give thanks for what you have and leave regrets at the door. Savor life; there are no second helpings. Be sharing and caring when you can."
It taught me to never be too proud or too busy to give help or give thanks, or to care about others. I sometimes think the "Thanks-giving" Holiday should also be called the "Care-Giving" holiday. November happens to be National Caregivers Month.
This holiday season think about that invisible guest and the message that person delivers. And think about what you can do to recognize that person.
It may be the person who has departed your life or an unborn child about to enter it. It may be the invisible neighbor, an elderly person too sick and frail to go out, possibly widowed with no family. It may be someone too timid or proud to reach out and say "Please include me. I am alone."
It may be the person who works an extra holiday shift so family members have enough food for the week, not just a banquet for the day. Or it could be all the health care workers and service personnel, from bus drivers to restaurant servers who work through the holidays to keep things running smoothly so you can enjoy yours.
Some people are starving for food; others are starving for companionship. If you can add one more chair this holiday season, do it. if you can share one more meal, offer it. If you can take the second helpings of your meal and make them first helpings for someone else, do it. If you can't give money, give time. if you can't give time, give food. If you don't think you have anything to give, give yourself another look in the mirror and remind yourself that gifted people like you have plenty to give and to give thanks for.