A lot of Facebook friends this month are posting daily notes about what they are thankful for. I'm not one of them, but seeing their comments causes me to keep the question front and center.
For what am I thankful?
Today it is community.
This morning is the annual Kiwanis all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast. Warren and I went; he was having a Symphony meeting afterwards. As we walked towards the doors of the middle school in which the event is held, the question came back to me.
For what am I thankful?
I am thankful that the greeter was Bob, a longtime friend, who shook Warren's hand and gave me a hug. I am thankful that I saw Kiwanians Judy and Sharon in the commons, that Jim was behind the cafeteria case helping to serve, that Mary Jean called out "hi, April!" from further back in the kitchen.
Bob P., who used to run the downtown dime store, was anchoring a table of cronies. Jack, with whom I serve on the city's Civil Service Commission, came by and chatted with us both on his way out. All across the room, I saw familiar faces.
Community is the young family that had just arrived and the gleeful look in their little boys' eyes as they got into line. Excitement at being there? Or anticipating all the pancakes they could eat?
Community is the high school swim team arriving straight from practice and swelling the line. Their coach is the son of the man who greeted me at the door.
Community is the friends waving across the commons, stopping at one another's tables, hugging someone they haven't seen in awhile.
Community is my making coffee plans with Margo, who was there for the Symphony meeting, and then running into her husband, Gerald, who was there for the pancakes. Gerald and I hugged, we talked, and then he headed inside to eat while I walked home.
I thought about community all the way home. Kiwanis was getting a good turnout today. It would be a good event.
When I was young a half century ago, a neighbor took me and my older brother to the Kiwanis pancake breakfast. Back then it was held in the gym of the junior high. I still remember being awed by the ranks of tables, every seat filled, by the chattering and bustle of so many adults, and by the endless supply of pancakes.
I did not fully realize it at the time, but even then I was impressed by the sense of community. I may not have had a word for it, but even at that young age I had the feeling that these people, these adults, had all come together for some common good.
Community was evident at the pancake breakfast today. It was evident in the large line, in the hugs and calls, in the faces of the Key Club members clearing tables. Community was threaded through the room, binding us together and helping to keep us intact.
As I was leaving, the swim team coach was arriving. His mother had gotten there ahead of him and she had already scanned the room for him before asking, "Where is my son? I see the team, but where is he? He needs to be here!" As I passed Bill, I warned him. "Your mother's already asking where you are. You better get in there!" He laughed and headed inside to join his family, to join his team, and to join his community.