The Unexpected Guest

A Thanksgiving Story

You know the routine pretty well. Getting ready for Thanksgiving means much planning, shopping for a lot of food, and with me there was the over-achieving cooking for two days straight.

Thanksgiving was also a time when we made sure we invited friends to dinner who were far from their families. So we always ended up with a houseful of people—there was my girl friend the Puerto Rican New Yorker Buddhist, who always got into heated discussions with the Argentinean film student. At the table was also the six-foot-four Black musician who imitates the Muppets singing show tunes with my four-foot ten best friend, the daughter of a former ambassador. My single friends made a pretty nice Thanksgiving picture, not quite Norman Rockwell, but maybe good old Norman would paint it that way now. Think banquet in the kingdom of God, and think everyone is invited.

Well, this year I had been cooking for the requisite two days, although I was not very hungry myself, let’s face it, my clothes had stopped fitting me a few months back. I was (as they say) “ready to pop.” The group was gathered, the prayers had been said, the plates came in and out of the kitchen, and the talk was lively. I smiled, yep, it was Thanksg— “Ouch!” And then another, “Ooohhh…” And then everyone looked up from their plates, stunned looks on their faces, remembering all at once…”baby!”

I was actually overdue by a couple of weeks, and I joked with my family that the baby had no intention of being born, I would just have to go to school for him, rig a camera and a microphone up to my belly-button, and hope he would get good grades. But apparently the little guy had changed his mind; he wanted to be born and he was coming now, right now, Thanksgiving Day.

This new little member of the party and I were in labor for a very long time. My friends all got tired and went home, except for my sister who insisted on being in the labor room with me and then promptly fainted. This was a Thanksgiving to remember.

For years my uncle called my son Tom. His name is Andres, but it didn’t matter; to my uncle, he was Tom—little Tom Turkey. My little beautiful, precious, utterly amazing child, living reminder of why we give thanks to our creative and sometimes humorous God.