My cold, stony heart grew 5 sizes last night.

I had mentioned yesterday that I was thankful for the community church that was giving us a turkey and some food for the holidays. I wrote the post with the intention of publishing it today, but I have issues holding onto drafts.

My daughter and I actually went last night. We didn’t know what to expect, so we got there a half hour early. There was a line already and it was cold outside, but thankfully they let us come in after only 5 minutes. There was a line going up the stairwell. My kid changed spots with me so that I could hold onto the railing. We chit chatted while we people watched.

“My friend thought that I said I had Nutella on my knee instead of a fibula,” B said randomly, because that is what she does. She’s taking anatomy this year.

“I see. Well, I have peanut butter,” I replied dryly, as is my way.

All of a sudden, the lady behind us chimed in. “And I have the jelly!”

We laughed and then I started talking to this woman. I found out that she was also on disability and has been coming to the church for years.

As we finally made it to the top of the stairs, a couple of older gentlemen and another woman started talking to us. They all noticed my Beatles hoodie and so we had a conversation about classic rock. They were all so…..friendly.

It was fun. I put my hand over my mouth when I giggled (yes, I still can do this) so that they didn’t see my chipped tooth.

We passed a bench and the lady from behind me told me to pop a squat with her for a minute. I did. B sat on my lap for a second. It felt blissful to sit down and even better because I had someone to talk with.

“My name is Merry, by the way,” I said, putting my hand out for a shake.

She shook it. “My name is Lori.” Huge smile and I returned it.

We continued to make small talk and before I knew it, it was our turn to go into the little room where they check your name off of the list. I told my new friend Happy Thanksgiving and off B and I went.

The two ladies found my name quickly and then handed me a gift card for $30 from the hometown grocery store that the church works with.

“Happy Thanksgiving,” they both said. I said it back. “Thank you…so much.”

I am still in shock over this act of kindness.

They told us that if we went down the hallway, there was some food that we could eat before we went into the room where they had the little makeshift store set up. We get to pick out what we want, according to family size. Ours is a small.

We went into the modified music room and I couldn’t believe what I saw. Pasta, mac and cheese, hot dogs, cake!!!, cookies and an assortment of beverages.

The kid and I took what we wanted and then B said, “Where will we sit?” I recognized the older men and the other lady we had been talking to. I told B to follow me.

“Hey, I recognize you guys! May we sit here?”

They welcomed us with open arms.

More chit-chat, while we were eating our free little meal. I had the realization that I was actually enjoying myself immensely. I have missed social interaction more than I had originally thought.

Not to mention the good vibe from the entire place. So many people laughing, joking and Christmas music playing in the background.

When we were done eating, we headed back down the hallway to get our food. We picked out various boxes and cans, mostly whatever B would like. AΒ very quiet, yet smiling old man helped us to put it all in bags.

“Don’t forget your pie,” he said when we were done.

“Yes!” B said excitedly. Homemade pumpkin pies, made by the church ladies. Nice. I sent her to grab one.

Like they always do, a few volunteers started to take up all of the bags so that they could carry our wares out to the car for us. I told them to follow the teenager with the pie, because I was a slow walker. People kept smiling at me and wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving the entire time that I was carefully doing my penguin walk out of the church.

B had the trunk open and they were loading up by the time that I got there. I stood and watched them, saying thank you to each of them.

I had the urge to start crying, which is nothing new to me. But these tears, the ones that were starting to pool over my bottom eyelids, were of a different variety.

Joy. I can still feel this emotion. I thought it had been lost to me.

One of theΒ men came over to me and took my hand. He looked right into my eyes.

“Happy Thanksgiving. Bless you.”

I said it back and that is when my heart finally burst into a million shards of warmth.

We got in the car to go home.

“That was nice,” B said. I agreed with her.

“I might go to their Christmas party, ” I said, lost in my own thoughts.

“I’d go with you, maybe, ” she said back.

We are so there.