It isn’t an ordinary evening at Maugenhard dorm. The seven oblong tables, typically arranged side by side in the dining room, have been pulled end-to-end into a long table, and every chair in the house has found its way upstairs to this mega-table. The boys come to the table, giddy with anticipation, wearing shirts and ties. Some even sport fedoras or sport coats for the occasion. Tonight is Thanksgiving for the BFA residences, and we’re excited.
I don’t know why “dorm Thanksgiving” is a week earlier than its American counterpart. Perhaps it’s a concession to our Canadian founders, one week closer to their national day of thanks. I suspect that we just want more time to celebrate Christmas before scattering to family homes. Either way, Dorm Thanksgiving typically kicks off a week or so of eating here in Kandern, as we all hop about to a variety of thanksgiving celebrations.
Tonight we sit down together at the magnificent table, where the boys have been told they must linger until at least 6:30. Perhaps this has been an important warning in past years, but they needn’t have bothered tonight. The meal is long and relaxed. At my end of the table, we talk about college plans, election results, dental practices around the world. I sit between a former student’s parents, in town for a visit, and an alumna here with her parents, and it’s an evening of thought-provoking conversation and copious laughter. It’s an evening of community.
After dinner, about half of the boys pile onto the couches to watch football, which in their interpretation means projecting Youtube video of a Cowboys-Giants game from September onto the wall. (They continue to argue through it, about whether or not they should be watching basketball, instead. The winning argument: “It’s Thanksgiving. We watch FOOTBALL.”) Only about half know the rules, but they are adept at yelling at intervals, whenever someone seems to fall or run more quickly than usual. When they see the ball, they cry in chorus, “Look! The football!” I love these guys.
As I walk home through the misty November evening, I remember to my surprise that I’ve met everyone I just spent the evening with in the last three years. An important epiphany for me now, as I look ahead to a holiday season spent far from the traditions and faces of family and the Northwest, to see the community that God has provided here. Looking back, I can see that He has always provided it, even in the shortest-term homes, the warmth and love that makes every place a home to me. It’s important to remember, and to recognize now. It’s so beautiful, even in its transience, this community that looks just a bit different every year, united by a common thread of Christ. I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude.
And as I leave, hearing the voices from inside the house still echoing into the night behind me, I rest confidently in Christ’s faithfulness, knowing that no matter where the foggy future takes me, I’ll still be home.