12 Epiphanies

viii. We have an impulse to share with others.

Kate still faced the question of what to do for actual Christmas, the day itself. With the apartment feeling more cheerful, she didn’t want to spend it alone.

Perhaps she could volunteer. She imagined herself, wearing her bright green sweater and the cap with the pom-pom, serving in the line of a soup kitchen, which, of course, on that day would be offering a savory feast. “Have seconds,” she’d say, with a smile, and the old person (always, in her imagination, it was a grizzled old man that she served) would smile back, his eyes twinkling. She could feel the spread of warmth.

But when she called the Salvation Army, they had no slots for volunteers that day. Neither did Four Corners. Nor United Way. Nor Kitchens Not Borders.

“It’s this way all over,” said the director of Our Home. “We see plenty of volunteers over the holidays. It’s nice, of course. Not complaining. But it’s after the holidays we need help. You really want to contribute? Come back some dreary Friday in February when everyone’s forgotten about us.”

Kate promised she would, and she marked down her calendar on January 25 to call the director back so she could schedule some times to help there.

But that still left her with this Christmas Day without a plan.

One of the cooking channels broadcast “A Very Holiday Feast,” and she thought it would be fun to cook a spread, with cranberries, wild rice, roast veggies–the works.

Her apartment building was bound to have other lonely souls–Bertha, for example, if she wasn’t spending it with her son. Or what about that nice anonymous person who’d left the boxes of ornaments?

She could do something similar.

What if she put out notices on the bulletin boards on every landing, inviting neighbors to her feast?

First she wrote a thank you note to post for the kind person who’d left the decorations. Then, she drew up six colorful invitations, with pictures of dancing butternut squashes, singing cranberries, smiling onions, and frolicking heads of garlic.

“Come to a Feast!”

When she checked the next morning, she found a note scrawled in blue felt-point pen beneath her thank you note.

“You’re welcome,” it said.

In the same hand-writing, with the same pen, on a different scrap of paper, were the words:

Take a moment to breathe. You will only have this breath once. But the moment in which you experience this breath will connect you to every moment of breathing in and breathing out. Breathe. It is all you need to do.

And the same blue pen also wrote “I’ll be there!” on her feast-invitation. Underneath that, in red pen, someone else had written, “So will I!”

It looked like Kate was going to be cooking a feast for her neighbors. This Christmas, she wouldn’t spend alone.

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