The Welcome Table: Annual Thankfulness Virtual Meal
[Melissa clinks on her glass in order to get everyone's attention and then begins to speak.]
Welcome back everyone. I am so glad that you’re here at the fourth annual virtual ALI Thanksgiving meal – an online meal that is a yearly tradition before we scatter to our respective actual Thanksgiving tables. Is it held during American Thanksgiving week instead of Canadian or another country’s thankfulness celebration? Yes, and I apologize for that, but at least I didn’t hold it on American Thanksgiving so hopefully everyone will feel comfortable participating regardless of where you live.
[Polite laughter from the non-American contingency while they secretly think about how Americans flood the Internet with Thanksgiving posts this week.]
The Thanksgiving myth is that people who had nothing more in common than simple humanness stopped looking at each other’s differences on this day in history and sat down at the table together for a meal. It’s a meal about survival; about going into the winter knowing the odds are stacked against you and still pausing for a moment to think about the here and now.
And truly, what better myth to describe our own virtual Thanksgiving table, where donor gamete bloggers are sitting next to those living child-free after infertility, and the adoption bloggers are seated next to those starting their first IUI. We have nothing more in common than our humanness and a desire to build our families. Some have crossed the river and are standing on the opposite bank with the families they struggled to build. Others are still wading in the water. And some are left on the original bank, not able yet to move ahead or deciding to stay out of the water. We are straight or gay, old or young, men or women. And yet, we place aside our differences – wait, not place aside: we learn from our differences, we utilize our differences – to create community. We all have the means to support one another. It is as simple as a word, a kind gesture.
I would like to start off the festivities by making a toast: to thankfulness.
I say this every year, and I’ll say it again: I will always be incredibly grateful to this online community, a community that has grown to more than 3000 people currently, not to mention those who have slipped away from our community over the years. It is difficult to put into words how it feels to know that there are people around the world connected to you emotionally. You are tied to their story and they are tied to yours and together, those threads intertwine to make a web strong enough to hold all of us who walk over it. It’s not a spider web meant to ensnare; it’s more the netting below the trapeze, there to catch you and cushion your landing in case you fall.
I asked all of you to bring a dish to this multi-culti potluck meal – there is no need to stick to traditional Thanksgiving fare when you have such a diverse table spanning the entire globe. Please share with everyone at the table what you brought and why.
This year, I brought mushroom stuffing. I make it with a crusty French bread that I learned how to make when we were in our first round of treatments and Josh hinted that I needed to get a hobby to distract myself. So I’m placing my dish of stuffing on the table. Feel free to dive into the main dishes or nosh on the appetizers or skip all the healthy stuff and head straight for dessert. There are no rules here.
So what did you bring and what do you want to say to the community?
And please, start eating as everyone is introducing their dish. We don’t want the food to get cold and there are so many of us at this table. Thank you so much for coming, and I’m going to carry the warmth of this meal with me for the rest of this week. In fact, I just might print out this post and the comments below and carry it with me in my pocket to my actual Thanksgiving meal to have all of you there and feel free to do the same if you need the fortification or simply want the company of a few thousand bloggers at your table.