I wrote last week that we had invited the guys from Dare Challenge over to our home to share Thanksgiving with us. (Note: I received permission from each of them to post the story and pictures here.)
The day was great! And heart warming! And wonderful!
In the midst of my happy (but frantic) preparation I had just one small cooking crisis when a glass baking dish shattered in the oven. I was baking two turkey breasts and suddenly, for no reason whatsoever, one of the dishes made a terrible noise and splintered all over everything.
It was great fun! In fact, it was so much great fun that I called my intrepid and helpful husband into the kitchen to share the fun with me. (And also help me to deal with multiple menacing shards of slivered, sizzling glass.)
In addition to that rather large cooking crisis we also had a few small wacky things happen, like when I opened a drawer and found a partial stick of butter in it. That basically meant that at some point in the previous few minutes, my hands had gotten going faster than my brain and I had thrown some butter into the silverware drawer instead of in the fridge. (And although it looks like little pieces of dirt in my drawer, it’s actually coffee granules since Steve uses the measuring spoons to measure out his morning java.)
Over the course of our family’s prep for this meal, Sarah, bless her sweet little heart, cleaned up after me at least half a dozen times. I cooked for two days straight and my basic schedule was to cook for 3 or 4 hours and then fall into a chair to rest while Sarah cleaned up. Then I would start all over again, only to be followed (all over again) by my trusty kitchen assistant who turned my kitchen messes into kitchen order. I am quite serious when I say I never would have made it without her; it also gave her a chance to contribute in a large way to the hosting of this group of men.
This is a small portion of just one of my many messes.
My goal for this year’s dinner was to have every single thing done ahead of time so that there wasn’t a lot of stuff to take care of right before sitting down. And with Sarah’s and Steve’s capable and able assistance, I think we did pretty well. (This is the kitchen, ten minutes before feeding twelve people.)
Here is The Official Carver of the Ham.
And the bedecked table.
Steve made up place cards for everyone which included the name in addition to its meaning. Before we sat down to eat, everyone read their name and what it meant.
The feast began . . .
and what a joy it was to share that special occasion with such special guests!
Each of the nine men was so polite and well-mannered and thanked us a dozen times for inviting them over. One young man told Sarah and me that sometimes when people hear their stories (drug and alcohol abuse, trouble with the law, etc.), they look at them funny and treat them weird. He said for us to invite them right into our home just blew him away.
I couldn’t even begin to the find the right words to tell him that the honor was all ours . . . but I tried.
After the meal and before dessert, a couple of the guys insisted on helping with the dishes.
Who am I to argue?
They brought back memories of a certain other young man who has worked in this same kitchen . . . and it made me teary eyed because so many of the guys who came are within a year or two of Nathan’s age. And I was reminded all over again of why I loved having them over . . . it gave me a chance to share my mama heart with “other Nathans” who were away from their own moms on a day that is all about family.
After dessert, my kitchen helper turned videographer and got her equipment all tuned up for a special event. I had asked Steve before dinner if he thought the guys would be willing to sing a particular song that he had written and taught them in the course of the weekly Bible studies that he does with them.
As it turns out, they were more than willing! (I’ll post the video of the song tomorrow.)
So after a few minutes of chit-chat . .
they were off and singing.
It was such a sweet and dear occasion to watch my husband become a surrogate Dad for an afternoon as he and the men talked and sang and smiled–and then smiled some more.
When it was all over, they graciously and sincerely said thank you all over again and then they were out the door to their van. Since I was out on the porch saying goodbye, I was in a good spot to grab a quick picture of Sarah through the front window as she worked on final clean up duty.
And then I turned around to get a picture of the departing van packed with our friends–their stomachs full of good food, their ears full of good music, their hearts full of the feeling of being a part of our family . . . for one sweet November afternoon.