"Transform Common Days"
It had been a good day for
scrounging. Turq had found
a perfectly good belt woven of
multicolored blue cords, which
some rich dude had thrown out
just because the stitches broke.
Turq was sewing the buckle back
onto the leather end cap when
Janie and Ansel came outside
and strolled over to the gazebo.
"Hi," Turq said. "What do you need?"
"We'd like to discuss plans for
Thanksgiving, if you're still interested
in joining us for that," Janie said as she
and Ansel sat down on the bench.
"It's rarely fun being alone on
a holiday, but we don't want
to crowd you," Ansel added.
"It's okay," Turq said. "I'd like
to be here for it, even if I can't
go indoors like a normal person.
I mean, if you really don't mind
bringing a plate out for me."
Ansel got that pinched look on
his face that happened so often
when Turq started talking.
"We're cooking and eating outside,"
Janie said. "I want to deep-fry the turkey,
and that's not a great idea indoors.
I'm also making the stuffing."
"I'm on cranberry sauce, and
probably a green vegetable,"
Ansel said. "What do you like?"
"Whatever's there," Turq said.
"You don't have any favorites?"
Janie said. "A request, or
something you like to make?"
"Not for Thanksgiving," Turq said,
knotting the thread behind the buckle.
"I can cook some stuff, but I don't
have a lot of happy holiday memories."
"Well then, we'll make new ones,"
Janie said. "You like rice, right?
While I was looking for recipes, I saw
one for campfire roasted pumpkin rice.
I thought we might try making that."
"Yeah? What's in it?" Turq wondered.
He liked rice, all right, but hadn't had it
with pumpkin as far as he could recall.
Janie took out her smartphone and
showed him the recipe for stewing rice
inside a pumpkin. "Here, what do you think?"
"That sounds really good," Turq said
as he scrolled through the ingredients
and the directions for assembling them.
"You've never made it before, though ...
what if it doesn't turn out as well
as we thought it would?"
"If we know what went wrong,
then we make it better next time,"
she said. "If not, then we might
decide not to make it again."
"We like trying one new thing
at holiday feasts, so that we don't
get bored having the same thing
every year," Ansel said.
"Then yeah, if you can get
the ingredients, I'll help cook it,"
said Turq. He trimmed away
the excess thread, then started
working on the far end of the belt.
It would be nice not to use a rope.
"What about people?" Janie asked.
"How many beyond the three of us
would you feel comfortable with?"
It was more a matter of who
would put up with him, but Turq
didn't think that would go over well.
"I don't know, two or three maybe?"
he hedged, hoping they wouldn't push.
"Jasper's our go-to for small gathers, because
he doesn't have close family for holidays, and you
know him too, from the thrift store," said Ansel.
"Is there anyone else you'd like to invite?"
Turq knew it would be infinitely easier
to get through Thanksgiving dinner with
people he knew than with strangers.
He liked the idea well enough, he
just wasn't sure if he could do it.
Thinking about that reminded him
of something else, though.
"What about Ethan?" said Turq.
"We both know him, and he ...
might not have plans."
Which was to say, Ethan knew
all kinds of people, but most of
them tried to coddle him because
they hated to see a healer taking
such bad care of himself, and Ethan
wasn't ready to be gentle with himself.
"That's very thoughtful, Turq," said Ansel.
"Do you want to ask him, or shall I?"
"You do it," Turq said quickly,
ducking his head to check
the stitches as he turned
a corner on the belt end.
"Okay, I'll take care of it, and
let you know what Ethan says,"
Ansel replied. "I hope he can come;
I think he needs more friends who
won't pester him all the time."
Turq knew what that was like.
Ansel had no idea how precious
he was just for being there, without
making a lot of demands on anyone.
"I'm really looking forward to this,"
Janie said as she leaned back
against the gazebo. "It's nice
to spend a holiday with friends."
"Especially Thanksgiving," Ansel said.
"What makes you say that?" Turq asked.
He cut the last thread on his belt.
Then he took off the rope and carefully
coiled it to put away. He threaded the belt
through jeans so faded that their blue
only showed in a few deep creases.
"Gratitude can transform common days
into times of thanksgiving," said Ansel.
"It turns routine tasks into joy, and changes
ordinary opportunities into blessings."
"We're grateful for our friends, Turq,
because they aren't obligated to be
with us," said Janie. "They choose to."
Turq wiggled a little deeper into
the folds of his gray wool blanket.
"Okay," he said. "I get that."
* * *
"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."
-- William Arthur Ward
Turq's scavenged belt is actually a fashion belt. Read the instructions for repairing a sewn-on buckle.
Enjoy recipes for Erick's Deep Fried Rosemary Turkey, Classic Sage-Sausage Dressing, Grilled Cranberry Sauce, Campfire Roasted Pumpkin Rice,
Spending thanksgiving with friends can be delightful, especially if you have family of choice. In Ansel's case, he often alternates between spending holidays with family and with friends. Here are some tips to host Friendsgiving. Also think about how to be present and grateful, reduce stress, and accommodate special needs.