While many of you sat around a table with family members on November 23rd, Ed and I tried something different.
It was 92 degrees in Tucson that day. We sat at one of about a dozen tables temporarily set up in the interior courtyard of a large apartment complex that houses immigrants from around the world. The stately palo verdes and the lavish ocotillos surrounding the tables still proudly displayed their leaves because summer had not yet ended.
It was a truly global potluck. Samosas from Bhutan. Kak’ik from Guatemala. Tamales from Mexico. Zahraa al sofi fatayer from Iraq. And more. And pumpkin pies, of course.
We sat with six other people at our table. Several women and children from the Congo wore orange, green and pink tunics that glowed almost fluorescent against their smooth black skin. The tall man seated across from us, graying hair swept back from his forehead, wore a long-sleeved blue shirt, the top two buttons left open to reveal an American-style T-shirt. His wide smile couldn’t hide deep pools of pain that seemed to lurk behind dark, intense eyes. He’d come from Afghanistan, he said in broken English. But not directly. To escape, he had traveled through Pakistan, spent four years in Kenya, and had now been in the States for eleven months, working on an assembly line and waiting for papers to get a “better job.”
“Do you have a family back in Afghanistan?” I asked.
He nodded, his eyes turning an even darker shade of black.
“Wife and children?”
Again he nodded.
“How many children do you have?”
Very slowly, he turned and pointed toward each one of us around the table and counted, “Von, Toa…”
“We are your children?” I asked.
“Heh,” he said, breaking into a smile.
My heart did one of those little flips. The kind of flip it did the first time I looked into the eyes of my newborn grandson. The kind of flip it does when Ed looks at me in that way that reaches deep down into my soul.
This holiday season, I hope you’re fortunate enough to be with family that causes your heart to do that little flip.