This Thanksgiving, the Amate House staff and fellows gathered for a holiday meal together one Wednesday evening after work. Everyone brought a different dish, filling the kitchen with mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, two turkeys, breads, green beans, and several pies. The common spaces of the house were bursting with extra chairs and tables, set to accommodate a big crowd – larger than our normal dinner group of eleven. While we have weekly dinners and community nights with program staff, it is less common to gather all the staff together to share a meal, so we celebrated the chance to be in each other’s company. As we arrived home from our various jobs, the house was filled with chatter about our busy days, laughter over ridiculous jokes, and excited mumbles about digging into Carmah’s gooey famous mac and cheese and banana pudding.
Thanksgiving is a time characteristically known for giving gratitude for what you have and appreciating those around you. Over dinner, we each shared something we are grateful for and I was struck by how much we take for granted and the aspects of our lives I wouldn’t think to be explicitly grateful for.
This holiday season, not only am I thankful for my usual gratitude – family, friends, health, home, education… but I am thankful for the dinner table.
The Amate House dinner table has seen it all. The three heavy, wooden tables pushed next to each other form a central point in our cozy and well-loved convent. They have stood in the kitchen for longer than I know and have housed several generations of Amate Fellows. The dinner table has seen laughing, crying, anger, frustration, and joy – from animated house meetings about food and transportation budgets, to late nights of heartfelt discussions and grad school applications, to early mornings of groggy coffee drinking and speedy breakfasts before work. The dinner table is a gathering place to introduce each other’s siblings and best friends, and to make new connections. Our nightly check-ins provide a glimpse into the details of our lives, whether we are describing our day as a smell or a noise, or sharing our love languages and how we can best support each other.
Sitting together at the table brings feelings of familiarity and comfort. I am reminded of the countless dinners shared with my family at home and grateful for the dinners I now share with my Amate family in Chicago.
As I reflect on my time in Chicago and with Amate, I am endlessly grateful for this Amate year and the wonderfully inspiring and passionate people I am sharing it with. I look forward to us sharing many more adventures, memories, and dinners in the coming months!