Right off the bat, it’s important that you know that traditionally I’ve never been a “joiner.”
I guess everyone knows someone who wants to be involved in everything — joining this organization and that. It just isn’t me.
I’m happiest when I’m sitting at home with the little lady and don’t have to worry about what everyone else is doing. It’s a live and let live kind of thing.
Which makes it especially interesting that since moving here to Mount Airy, I’ve become more amenable to getting out in the community and seeing what’s going on.
With that in mind, the little lady and I decided to attend this year’s community Thanksgiving dinner at First Baptist Church Thursday.
But in the interest of full disclosure, there were two more reasons we went to the event:
First, with just 2.33 people in the home (the baby is now entering 12 weeks of gestation, I guess that makes him/her a third of a person at this point), it seemed impractical to try to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It was simply easier and cleaner on the kitchen to have someone else cook for us. I’m lazy, you know.
Second, both the lady and I are HUGE Melva Houston fans, and the chance to chat with her for a second seemed worthy of us driving to First Baptist Church for a free meal.
And so we went.
And it was great!
I’ve never attended a community dinner like that before, so I didn’t know what to expect, but walking into the beautiful fellowship hall at First Baptist, I was struck by the true sense of benevolence in Mount Airy.
We walked in without knowing where to go or what to do, so it was great that there was a lady who smiled, welcomed us and pointed us in the direction of turkey and dressing.
Picking up our plates, we smiled at Houston, who was taking a short break.
Within seconds, she was out and chatting with us, learning about our impending new family member and singing a few stanzas of something or other into my girl’s belly.
Which I thought was awesome, since it ain’t every day you have an international artist like Houston singing to your unborn child.
But what really struck me about the event was the fact that it seemed like everyone — young and old, rich and poor — turned out for the event with a true sense of community.
We chatted with people sitting around us, watched as children spent their Thanksgiving dinner refilling beverages and taking up plates to be washed, and simply marveled at the spirit of the event.
No one was complaining. Everyone was smiling and seemed genuinely happy to be giving to others on Thanksgiving.
And then a lady came up to chat I didn’t recognize at first due to her hair net and apron.
Mayor Deborah Cochran came over, saying she was glad to see us and wanting us to know how happy she was to meet the little lady.
And that made all the difference.
As we were leaving, my girl stopped me outside the church, turning to me with a look of wonder in her eyes.
“I’ve never lived in a place where the mayor would spend her Thanksgiving like this, washing dishes and cleaning tables,” she said. “That is just incredible to me.”
I thought for a second before responding.
Putting my arm around her shoulders as we wandered to the car, I said simply, “welcome to Mayberry.”
Keith Strange is a staff writer at The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at email@example.com or 719-1929.