Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grateful on Turkey Day

When not celebrating with family, I spend Thanksgiving in a hospital. There I’m reminded what a generous and caring culture America is.

I spent one Thanksgiving sharing the meal with the Native American staff of a tiny rural hospital in the four corners of the Southwest. I walked into the break room and found the only anglo child present wearing a feathered headband of construction paper. My first thought: well, this is uncomfortable - who let that kid dress up as...Then I noticed the Native American children wore, indiscriminately, headbands and pilgrim hats. The staff were festive and welcomed me wholly. I soon forgot I was the minority guest on a reservation, who’d brought nothing to a potluck. The turkey, fry bread, and irony were delicious. That was a classic Thanksgiving.

Today’s was classic too. I hadn’t thought much about how to get a meal on a 48-hour shift spanning a holiday. Vending machines, I figured. But an invitation to a meal was announced overhead. A local motorcycle club, fully dressed for the road, brought and served a turkey meal for patients, nursing home residents, visiting family, and staff. The relief and gratitude of hungry diners, especially out-of-town family, was palpable.

Hours later I’m stuffing stuffing again, thanks to the gracious ICU staff.

Hospitals and holidays combine well to show me America's best face. Makes me grateful.

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