The Welcome Table: An Annual Online Thanksgiving Meal
[Melissa stands up, taps her fork against her glass, and clears her throat. The conversation around the table dies down, and she while she normally kicks off this annual meal with a Dumbledore joke, it doesn’t quite feel right in this time period. She looks at everyone at the table.]
We do this every year: Come together as a community and have a virtual meal before we scatter to our actual meals. Unless, that is, you do not celebrate Thanksgiving. But I hope that you’ll join the table for virtual food and company even if you don’t follow this tradition offline.
There are a lot of people hurting at this table. For some, it’s the same reason people are hurting at this table every year. For others, it is because they feel as if their fellow Americans don’t have their back. In both cases, I caution that you apply what you know from your experience with infertility and apply it forward to all other aspects of life: It never helps to have your fears or sadness negated or dismissed.
I’m glad we’re not only here, sharing, but also listening.
For some people, this pre-meal is what gets them through their real meal later in the week. People have written that they’ve printed out this yearly post and comments and left the paper in their purse because it helped to have a tangible reminder that there were people out there who got it. Who weren’t going to ask them when they were going to hurry up and have children. Who weren’t going to cringe when someone spoke the name of a child they lost.
We are all so different. All of us. Around this table. But we have this one facet of our lives — and yes, even though it may be a big, overpowering one for you right now, it is only one facet of who you are — where we overlap: infertility or adoption or loss. And I am so thankful, so grateful, that I found all of you. Everyone needs a You-shaped space where they can be themselves. And that’s what I have here.
So every year, I ask people to bring a virtual dish to our meal. Place it in the comment section, explaining what you brought and why. And say anything else you need to say before sitting back down to enjoy the company. Update about where you are; your emotional state. We’re an international group, hailing from countries all around the world. So while Thanksgiving is an American tradition, I hope that everyone around the world feels as if they can participate. (Especially our Canadian neighbours who celebrated Thanksgiving weeks ago.) I’d love for your dish to come from your culture or country. Don’t worry about the contents on the table clashing.
I am bringing stuffing. It’s comfort food; mushy and soggy and warm. And I need some comfort food right now.
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.