In anticipation of Thanksgiving, a couple of weeks ago I wrote “I saw roast turkey breast with sausage and cornbread stuffing and a cranberry glaze. Wow, everything in one package. I purchased it and Costco’s turkey gravy. The day before I will buy a pie.” I was ready for Thanksgiving. But, delightfully, everything turned out different.

On Thanksgiving Eve Kent was watching the news. The news spotlighted a deli and grille called “Six Sisters” that was offering free Thanksgiving dinner to their community in Eagle Mountain, about 30 minutes south of us. But they also said anyone was welcome.

I thought about going, but pushed it out of my mind. Thanksgiving dinner was already purchased and in the fridge ready for me to prepare it. Around noon on Thanksgiving I started to cook the yams. Just as I was turning on the stove and Michael and Chad were coming in the door I wondered why I was doing this. It would be good for my little family to get out of the house so I turned off the stove. I told everyone to get in the car, “We are going out for Thanksgiving dinner.” Of course Pepsi, the guy’s miniature schnauzer had to come too.

It was a lovely, bright and sunny day. Kent turned on whimsical Christmas music like “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas” and everyone sang to it as I drove. Since Michael’s speech is so impaired we need music on to keep conversations to a minimum. But singing together is a uniting option.

We were expecting a large crowd, especially since “Six Sisters” had been announced on the news. When we arrived there were a few cars, but not as many as we expected. As we approached the door there were several youth outside. They approached us and asked us if we wanted “take-out.” We sheepishly said that we were hoping that we could stay and eat. At this point we were welcomed inside and greeted by one of the “sisters.” We were asked what kind of pie we wanted from a long list. Kent, Michael and I chose Banana Cream and Chad chose Pumpkin. At this point we were guided to our seats by Lindsey, sister number 5.

The feeling in “Six Sisters” was casual as you would expect from a deli and grille. But it was also very warm and welcoming. As I was about to sit down I boldly decided to go out to my car and get a copy of my book “Surviving Myotonic Dystrophy: a Mother’s Struggle to Care for Her Family with a Rare Disease.” I went up to Lindsey and gave her a hug and told her that their generosity meant a lot to my family with a Rare Disease. I asked her if she would accept a copy of my book. Lindsey warmly accepted it and told me that her big sister Monica, the owner, has MS and they have two relatives that have muscular dystrophy. I watched as Lindsey took my book over to Monica and they chatted. They were talking about my book so I walked over and joined in the conversation.

Monica immediately got up and started talking to me, asking me about my family. I told her about Chad who worked in the food service industry and Michael who has a severe speech impediment but still graduated from college in Communication. Monica came over and started talking to both Michael and Chad. Chad told her about his having just taken the food handlers workshop and passing it. She validated him by telling him what a hard class it was. We had to help interpret what Michael said but she was very interested in what he had to say. He told her jokes and they talked about Pepsi. Everyone loved Pepsi. When Pepsi has his service vest on, he is stellar. The youth came over and wanted to hold Pepsi and they walked around with him cradled in their arms and showing him off.

Pretty soon Monica started to tell us about herself and that her MS makes it hard to stand very long. Insightful Michael squished over to Chad and told Monica to sit down, which she did and seemed to need to get off of her feet. Monica told us of employees that she has with disabilities and how great they serve her. We felt bad that we didn’t live closer because Monica would probably hire Michael and Chad. They would feel so fulfilled if they had a place that they could work and feel valued.

What a lovely experience. The food was great too.

After our dinner all of us continued to chat. As an afterthought I asked Monica if she knew of any way to connect individuals with disabilities so that they could have some friends. She didn’t, but we fantasized about finding a way to make that happen. Who knows what we may come up with as we ponder this idea?

As I’m writing this I reached out to Monica to ask questions about details for my post. She replied with this.

“We never know who will be moved to join (us for Thanksgiving). We had all kinds (of great connections). It was wonderful. An older gentleman who lives alone and kids couldn’t travel, a few couples who didn’t want to stay home alone, 6 local HS football players after a practice, and a single mom with a young son, who came on foot at 4:05. She said she had to talk herself in to coming all day, and she and her young son would not have thanksgiving dinner otherwise. Everything was already put away, but my crew gave her the meals and pie they had packed for themselves!  Many others too. It was a pleasure to meet you and your family!  We had a wonderful thanksgiving.”

Thank you to “Six Sisters” for making our Thanksgiving a day to talk about and remember!