The kitchen was crowded with both people and smells, music and chatter filled the air as they prepared for dinner and caught up with one another. It’s no exaggeration when I say I have been waiting for this day for months. Not long after I moved to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, did my community and I start to plan to host Thanksgiving, and now three months later, it was finally here and in full swing.
While this was my first Thanksgiving being away from someone I was related to, the feeling of family was still very much alive. Even when I was a student at Saint Mary’s College of California, I had considered the Lasallian world to be really familial; however, being surrounded by 14 other Lasallian Volunteers (LVs) and LV alumni made that feeling even more real (which I didn’t even know was possible!).
I am not alone in this feeling either. Jeff Lucia, LV 15-17, said: “While having Thanksgiving dinner at the Saint Joseph’s Community, I remember taking a minute to myself to look around at everyone and truly experience the privilege of being in the company of fellow Lasallians. I remember feeling comfort and overwhelming joy being surrounded by such caring, passionate and unique individuals. It was in that moment that each one of them became family to me.”
Even before dinner began, we all spent the day together in the kitchen making something for the meal that represented Thanksgiving to us. “Everybody brought something to the table, both metaphorically and literally. We all had the dishes that we made, but it was also a group that would have been different if everyone wasn’t there,” said LV J.T. Taylor.
Thanksgiving is a holiday that is all about being grateful and bringing people together, and at the Pawtucket palace, we had people from all over the world. LVs Lidia Carreras Ochoa and David Cambra Morera, both from Catalonia, Spain, were celebrating their first Thanksgiving with us. “It was a day I will never forget, and from now on I will begin to celebrate it with my friends in Barcelona. I think it’s an incredible day to share with the people you love,” said Lidia.
Even though it was hard not being able to physically go home, on that day this group of Lasallians all became home to me, and that is what the charism of community is all about.
Maddi Larsen is first-year LV serving at The San Miguel School of Providence in Providence, RI and a 2017 graduate of St. Mary’s College of California.