I've spent more Thanksgivings at work than not since I've been an adult. First there were turkeys in domestic violence shelters in college, then ham in group homes for troubled girls in graduate school. Then came turkey and ham at the shelters, both families and adults at different times over the years.

I often used this to my advantage, a reason I couldn't fly home for the holiday that no one could really argue with. And it allowed me to gracefully bow out of what was often an uncomfortable gathering. So tradition doesn't call for me because I've never really listened, something that while perhaps my destiny has always left me feeling a bit numb but in an okay sort of way. As I've grown older I've felt more conflicted about this sort of selfishness and escape. But it was for a good cause, not only did I actually have to work most years but Thanksgiving is a time to give back while giving thanks and I like you have been so richly blessed.

But this sort of thinking is fueled by society. For some reason we can let folks go hungry all year but we find it inconscionable that everyone's belly isn't full on Thanksgiving. That no matter what the circumstances are, the community generally rallies around feeding the poor tomorrow. While grateful, always grateful I am also frustrated because folks are hungry in January and certainly in March. Turkey tastes just as good to a hungry person mid-December and maybe even better in May. But tomorrow everyone who needs it will most likely be full.

And so it goes, this strange river. And tomorrow I'll make my own turkey and give M a day she'll remember with our small family and some friends and at some point we'll probably head over to work just to check in, to see how things are going. This year not because I have to but because it's the one thing that IS my tradition and something to pass along to my child hopefully in an eventual broader context about suffering and community response, about hunger and hope. Because while I resent that we only catch people's attention twice a year I can't help falling for it every single time, the extra food and good cheer and surprise visits, the people who come by to drop off food or to volunteer their time because it makes me feel hopeful that something will stick, that more of these folks will see it as a longer commitment, that they'll want to do more all year long, and that somehow something will magically shift. And I am buoyed by that glimmer of hope just as I am moved by the folks who will wait for it too, whose waiting is cold and lonely and hungry and yet hopeful, still.