On the 27th of this month, Malcolm and I will be married 47 years. I, of course, had lived in our town for about five years before our marriage. And when I first came to this town, I thought it was the most wonderful place I had ever been. I had kindly neighbors and everyone in the town seemed to love being together, Actually, I thought that I had moved to Oz.
And then I married and Malcolm and I raised our four children here. Once again, I was thrilled that they had the gift of growing up in a small town, not unlike “Mayberry USA.” But I guess all good things have to come to an end. Where we had originally paid $300 in taxes, now that we are old and on a fixed income we pay $4500 and growing. It would appear that our town officials have forgotten that all the foolishness that they have decided we need is being paid for by other people’s money! But all of a sudden, there is one good thing that has taken place, and that is what I really want to tell you about.
Last January, a group of older residents (not necessarily old in age but old in years they have lived here) decided to hold a Community Dinner. What was even more interesting about their project is that it was to be FREE! And you know what, it was a smashing success. In fact, it was so successful that they decided to hold it the last Friday of every month. And they have.
Malcolm and I have gone every to every dinner, except when we were at the Cape. Along with many others, we leave a donation to help defray the cost. And I want to tell you that the food is outstanding and the camaraderie just wonderful. We went to one last night and I started to realize that for the first time in many years, I had the ability to meet and greet many old friends who I haven’t seen in a long, long time. Everyone appeared to be happy to be there and they too, were very happy to reconnect with old friends and neighbors. And I would be amiss not to tell you that Malcolm, who isn’t called Grumpy by his grandchildren for nothing, blossomed out and after he ate, made his way through all the tables to talk to just about everyone. Who would have thought? I certainly didn’t but was happy to note that he was having a wonderful time!
I don’t believe for a second that the dinner is so popular just because it is free, and if you want to make a donation you can. I do think that the terrific food and wonderful, friendly atmosphere are the reasons. In fact, the more I thought about it, this dinner actually allows the community to come together and just socialize. My goodness, it is very much like the good old days. I don’t really know how to thank those amazing citizens who decided to bring back a little fun to the community without trying to raise money for any specific outrageous project or to educate us about why a certain project is absolutely necessary. Nope, the Community Dinner appears to have fulfilled its mandate and is just to bring many of us older residents together, and just to have a great dinner and a fun evening out. I just hope that this wonderful get together continues forever. And I hope that the committee who does all the work and cooks the meal get their satisfaction from seeing all the happy faces.
Very seldom do I think that something is actually done just as a kindness. These days nobody seems to want to do anything, or have their children do anything, just to be an integral part of a community. Last winter I heard of a new family who were goaded into having one of their children shovel off an elderly neighbor’s roof after a snowstorm. And for a second I thought what a nice thing to do, until I heard that the kids demanded $100 for this good deed. When my children were young, every time it snowed, they went to various neighbors and shoveled their roofs. They never accepted any money for this good deed, although I do think that a few homemade cookies changed hands. And I believe now that they are older and have children of their own, they encourage their children to help other oldsters and to consider it a good deed, no money changing hands. It not only helps the neighbor who needs it, but it teaches the children that a good deed makes them a better person!
Back to the Community Dinner, think about it, would a community dinner in your town bring the senior citizens that you never see out? Believe me, it isn’t just a good deed, it is lots of fun and a unique opportunity for people who don’t ordinarily get out and socialize. Truthfully, I have no idea how much our Community Dinner receives from donations, but I think it is enough to pay for the food for the next one. And I know for sure that no one feels pressure to donate. He who can, does and he who can’t isn’t made to feel bad about it. The free dinner is free unless you wish to help defray those expenses.
I have to tell you that I really look forward to those dinners. I always see people that I haven’t seen in years and these days I feel it is important to let them know that I am still here, too! And after each dinner, Malcolm and I talk for hours about who was there, how they looked and what they had to say. Give yourself and your community a real treat, and plan a free Community Dinner. You will never regret it and you will be amazed at how widespread kindness goes.