Setting another place at the table

I had married into one of those large but close-knit New England families where everyone lived within 15 minutes of each other. Holidays were active, chaotic, and enormously enjoyable occasions, with three generations falling over one another with laughter, old stories, and new games. Thanksgivings were particularly eventful. Every family contributed something to the meal—pecan pies or the annual green bean casserole or fresh bagels for the youngest cousins who didn't like turkey. The kitchen was filled with constantly interrupted conversations, no one wanting to miss out on any of them.

Even with a houseful, there was always room at the table for another place setting, or two or three, for those who didn't have family around. It could have been a college student staying for the long weekend. Sometimes it was a friend from church. Each year the guests were different, but for that afternoon, the family circle enlarged to embrace another member. Eventually, we'd gather round the table, and for a moment, the cacophony of conversation stopped. Someone would be asked to say grace. And in that breath of silence, hearts turned to God, the source of all good.

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