As I was growing up, one of the memories that has stuck in my mind when I think about my father was during the holidays. After his mother passed away, we stopped getting together with our extended family members and started eating at my dad’s, instead. We usually had turkey, ham, and everything that goes along with that, but don’t be surprised if there was also steak, ribs and those red hot dogs he liked so much. But this isn’t about the food, it’s about who my father invited.
You see, my brother and I might be the only people we would know when it came to the holiday dinners. Everyone else was usually a stranger to us, at least the first time we met them. After dinner was mostly cooked, dad would take off and go downtown for a bit. Then he would show back up a short time later with a few people in tow. These would be people he would know from his time at the bars playing pool and poker, usually. They were the ones that didn’t have families to go home to, or the families didn’t want them home. They weren’t homeless, but that didn’t mean they had much of home- at least, not at the holidays. So for a couple nights a year, dinner was served at Dad’s and we got to meet new people. We would all have some fun, hear some stories from the people around the table and enjoy ourselves and each other. The really neat thing about all this was that Dad never looked for thanks for this. He didn’t expect anything from anybody, he just made sure a few people had a place to have dinner for the holidays. And the thing was, he didn’t treat it as abnormal, it was just what he did. When most of the world is talking about doing good deeds or helping the less fortunate, Dad didn’t talk about it, he just went out and did something about it. I miss dinner at Dad’s.