Room At The Table
Have you ever noticed that dining room tables seat six, eight, or
twelve-not seven, nine, or thirteen? I've been single all my life,
usually not thinking much of it. But on holidays even the
place-settings conspire against me, rendering a silent rebuke
against my single status.
You can endure holiday dinners two ways if you're single: 1) Bring
someone you don't particularly care for; 2) Hear the awful words
"pull up an extra seat," a euphemism for either a collapsible chair
or one that is too high or too low for the table. Either strategy
leaves you uncomfortable.
At Thanksgiving two years ago, while my calves cramped from
straddling the leg of my brother's dining room table, Aunt Nell took
the opportunity to ask for details about my love life, which was
seriously lacking at the time. The event was excruciating.
Though I enjoy single-hood in the main, there have been times when
I've worked myself into a mad frenzy looking for someone to fill
a void I thought I couldn't satisfy on my own. Someone, anyone with
a pulse would do. Over the years, I dated quite a few guys I
liked-I was even engaged once but "till death do we part" seemed
a very long time. I always ended up alone again.
So holidays, especially with the Aunt Nells of the family, can
weaken my confidence, leaving me a little bereft. One day, noting
my frustration surrounding the holidays, a friend of mine suggested
we try something different on the next such occasion.
"How `bout you and I go down to a homeless shelter and help out?
Then maybe we'll be grateful for what we have," she proposed. I
had a thousand reasons why this wasn't a good idea, but my friend
persisted. The next Christmas I found myself in an old downtown
warehouse, doling out food. Never in my life had I seen so many
turkeys and rows of pumpkin pies. Decorations donated by a nearby
grocery store created a festive atmosphere that uplifted even my
reluctant spirit. When everyone was fed, I took a tray and filled
a plate with the bountiful harvest. After a few bites, I knew what
everyone was carrying on about; the food was really good.
My dinner companions were easy company. Nobody asked me why I
didn't have a date or when I was going to settle down. People just
seemed grateful for a place to sit and enjoy a special dinner. To
my surprise, I found I had much in common with my fellow diners.
They were people just like me.
My experience that Christmas brought me back to the shelter the
following year. I enjoyed helping others so much that I began
seeking more opportunities to serve. I started volunteering for
the Literacy Foundation once a week. I figured I could sit in
front of the TV, or I could use those evening hours to help
others learn to read.
Caring for others has abundantly filled the void in my life that
I had sometimes interpreted as a missing mate. When I stopped
trying to so hard to fit in, I realized I was single for a reason
and found my own special purpose.
There is room at the table for a party of one. And sometimes "just
one" is the perfect fit.
Addendum: "Love is not only something you feel. It is something you do."
[ Author Unknown -- from 'Love Quotes' ]
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