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I’m a storyteller and don’t pretend to be anything else. The following is the story of one Thanksgiving dinner and people I will never forget.
A bit of background: I was teaching sixth grade in Ohio and my sister was living with me. She was the Director of Nursing at the local hospital. She was single and let as many of her personnel off for the day, as possible, to spend with their families while she worked their shifts. Later we’d have our dinner on Friday or Saturday night.
One morning several days before the holiday I was sitting at my desk grading papers before class. I wasn’t thinking about anything but getting those papers finished before the bell.
One of the students asked me what I was having for Thanksgiving dinner. Mind on my task, I opened my mouth and inserted both feet with the truth, “Oh! A baloney sandwich I guess.”
The next day, Peggy (I’ll call her) came up to my desk and said, “My mom said for you to come and have dinner with us. It isn’t right for you to have an ole baloney sandwich.”
Squirming to beat all I did the best I could. I thanked her and told her I couldn’t just appear on their doorstep uninvited. I thought that was the end of it.
The next morning there was an envelope (slightly tinged) and inside on lined school paper was a written invitation from her mother to join them for Thanksgiving dinner. My stupidity had caught up with me. I showed the note to my principal hoping he would know how I could politely refuse and not hurt anyone’s feelings.
His response, “We can’t get into that house with a shotgun and you get a written invitation!” No backing out of this one – I was going to share dinner with Peggy’s family.”
The house was little more than a very rustic hovel and the furniture various castoffs from heaven knows where. I could hear loud snores from the bedroom and knew immediately where the problem rested – the father was an alcoholic who’d started his drinking early that day rather than be exposed to a stuck-up teacher.
We ate our dinner in the kitchen. The table was set with individual salad bowls. Peggy with her two brothers (one was Peggy’s twin and the other was several years older) knew how to use them. They were as proud as peacocks to have their teacher for dinner and mindful of their table manners, which didn’t miss a beat.
Somewhere along the way one of the legs to the chair, on which I was sitting, collapsed. I did a bit of shifting to balance the chair on three legs and finish my meal, of which there was a large dose of humble pie. I did prop the chair against the kitchen range so they wouldn’t know what had happened until after I left.
By the way it was a turkey dinner, well cooked, with all the fixings.
This was a family who though down on their luck but managing to struggle along on pride alone to make sure their teacher didn’t eat baloney on Thanksgiving Day.