Until this year my family has always gathered at our house to share Thanksgiving. I clean, cook, stress and repeat, until everybody has had at least one disagreement and the house is a mess. This year I skipped the “cook, stress and repeat,” and turned this into one Thanksgiving for which I will always be grateful.
This year we hauled our fivesome to NY to watch the Macy’s Balloons inflate while navigating ourselves through a a sleet storm. We stayed in what might have been a hotel room or a closet with a bed, we’re still not sure. We ate really bad food in what seemed like a nice place and my daughters and I walked 35 blocks from our hotel to Bryant Park the day after, just window shopping and stopping once for hot chocolate.
On that long blustery walk we stopped to help an elderly lady near Central Park. From a half block away I noticed her. She wore a navy blue buttoned up wool coat with a nice white hat and scarf. She stood on the sidewalk waving while taxi after taxi passed her by and picked up the more aggressive people who were able to whistle or step out from the curb to be more visible. My guess is they didn’t see her tiny frame and passive gestures, and as we got closer I could see that her hands, one gripping her walker and the other in the air were red and chapped.
I asked if she’d like help getting a cab and she said yes, her voice brittle and the relief nearly bringing her to tears. We got her a taxi and I watched the driver help put her walker in the back of the cab. I noticed how shaky she was as he tucked her in the back seat and she told us how hard it is to be so helpless, and how kind we were to stop. I told her to have a nice holiday and stay warm and we waved goodbye.
This morning, back at home, we talked about the weekend, the funny people on the subway, the celebrities on the parade floats, the bad food and the teeny hotel room but we didn’t talk about the lady in Central Park probably because for us, for the kids, it was so small in terms of effort, but in reward it was huge. It took so little for us to help her. She needed an inch from us to go a mile and the intangible reward of her happiness wont be broken or lost or forgotten.
It makes me wish we could always move just one smidgeon in a kinder direction not because it’s Thanksgiving, but because it’s a good idea.