Dear Readers: This is the 10th episode of the series: HELP, I WANT TO GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN. If you are new to this series, you may want to start with Chapter One–IF THEY’D HAD HAMBURGER HELPER BACK THEN. Thanks for reading.
When you carpool with a friend, you’re enriched by the details of their lives.

So it was with Shirley and me. We talked about everything.

The pot-roast Cleon had fixed for dinner. The 5th Grade Science Fair which was as much work for parents as it was for kids. The Johnny Carson Show. Our kids’ bouts with colds, ear infections, stomach flu. Mini-skirts. Maxi-skirts. Why did husbands always take the last dollar from our purse or cigarette from the pack? Yes, we smoked back in those days. It was 1969.

The friendship Shirley and I forged on the way to classes spanned the years.

I’m not sure when the subject of holidays came up in our conversations. Perhaps it was on a Wednesday before Thanksgiving while we were trying to juggle term papers and turkeys.

Or was it a decade later when—settled in our work lives—we spoke by phone before holidays?

“What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” I must have asked.

“We rent out the basement at St. John’s Church. There’s so many of us that Thanksgiving works out best if we all get together in a large place.”

I knew Shirley and her husband Cleon had six children, but I didn’t know a host of their relatives and family friends lived along Colorado’s Front Range. If I remember right, their family gatherings always hosted more than 50 folks. Although both Shirley and Cleon are gone now, this tradition continues.

The idea of celebrating Thanksgiving in a larger setting—with space to invite a host of family and friends—has remained in my mind over the years. What a great idea!

That way there’s always room at the table.

Next year, I’m going to copy this idea.

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