by Meredith Fitzsimmons
Open Table Nashville Volunteer Coordinator
My sister is always coming up with great ideas. It was my sister who came up with the scheme to re-enact the Oregon Trail in our living room every Sunday afternoon growing up, and I’m pretty sure she was also responsible for painting our room a perfect Pepto-Bismal pink. So it came as no surprise when Liz called me to ask if her fourth grade students could write holiday letters for our friends at Hobson House. I immediately loved the idea, and planned to meet her class that next morning.
All elementary schools smell the same, right? It’s as if the moment you walk through those giant double doors, you are instantly transported back to the days of line leaders, untied shoelaces and Crayola crayons. I walked into Mrs. Knowles’ classroom thoroughly convinced that I knew what to expect. I had prepared myself for boredom and inattentiveness. I had prepared for the rolling of eyes, un-welcomed whispers, and the kid that somehow is in every class and is always chopping his eraser to pieces for no reason. What I had not prepared for, however, was the excitement and energy that filled the room. I had not prepared for the immense curiosity, the detailed questions, and the pure joy of children learning about our Open Table friends.
Throughout the week, the students worked on holiday cards for our friends in the Hobson House. What started as a creative writing project soon catapulted into a whole new realm of children investing in their city—their community. They started bringing in everything they could to share with their new pen pals. It was as though they had run through their houses, asking their parents how much they could give to their new friends, picking up everything that would fit in their backpacks.
I will never forget the night I took those letters to the house. I don’t think I have ever experienced so much warmth in one room. Presents were suddenly not as important as two pages written in pencil with shaky handwriting. The stillness in the room was only interrupted by a few chuckles here and there, brought on by the cleverness that only children can provide. Finally, Douglas, one of our residents, broke the silence by saying, “This is better than any present. This is the present.”
I often find myself thinking back to that night. It is hard to forget the joy seen in the eyes of friends—the joy of a ten-year-old boy, reciprocated by that of a fifty-year-old man. It was contagious, and the lines of “giving” and “receiving” were instantly blurred into a beautiful mosaic of community and hospitality. As you step into 2012, may you experience the joy of giving to your city. May you celebrate the magnitude of what it means to receive from your community. May we become a community that gives eagerly like a child, and receive with the wisdom to recognize our immense need for each other.
Want to Serve Our Friends Living on the Streets in the Freezing Weather?
(We’ll be serving in FOUR different shelters!)
- Outreach & Social Workers
- Set Up/ Clean Up Teams
- Hospitality Gurus
- Transportation Servants
- Feet Specialists
- Emergency Medical Technicians
- Plain Jane’s and Joe’s (like me) who want to serve
“BLESSED ARE THE FLEXIBLE FOR THEY SHALL NOT GET BENT OUT OF SHAPE.”
If you are not able to commit to serving and would like to help through monetary or in-kind donations, visit our
Emergency Warming Shelter Wishlist:
Or email us so we can plan on your help! THANKS!
Many thanks to all of you who have given of your time, gifts, thoughts and support to Open Table Nashville over the past year. 2012 will be our first full “official” year. We’re looking forward to all the adventure and love it will bring to each of us.
Happy Holidays and MUCH love from your
Open Table Community!
Last Minute Giving!
Open Table Family!
The absence of the “hard facts” of history is not necessarily an obstacle to the popularity of saints, as the devotion to St. Nicholas shows. Both the Eastern and Western Churches honor him, and it is claimed that, after the Blessed Virgin, he is the saint most pictured by Christian artists. And yet, historically, we can pinpoint only the fact that Nicholas was the fourth-century bishop of Myra, a city in Lycia, a province of Asia Minor.
As with many of the saints, however, we are able to capture the relationship which Nicholas had with God through the admiration which Christians have had for him—an admiration expressed in the colorful stories which have been told and retold through the centuries.
Perhaps the best-known story about Nicholas concerns his charity toward a poor man who was unable to provide dowries for his three daughters of marriageable age. Rather than see them forced into prostitution, Nicholas secretly tossed a bag of gold through the poor man’s window on three separate occasions, thus enabling the daughters to be married. Over the centuries, this particular legend evolved into the custom of gift-giving on the saint’s feast. In the English-speaking countries, St. Nicholas became, by a twist of the tongue, Santa Claus—further expanding the example of generosity portrayed by this holy bishop.
And today, we can follow St. Nicholas’ generosity of love and gifts to those who are unable to provide for themselves and their families.
Open Table has Specific Christmas Gifts on our Wish-List
We have asked each of our residents and friends to share specific things that would help to reach their goals . . . these are the items they’ve requested. Some of the things are items they will have to get themselves, hence the gift cards. You’re a blessing!
- $300 in Target Gift Cards
- $200 in Walmart Gift Card
- 3 Memberships to the Margaret Maddox YMCA
- One New Men’s Suit (Or gift card to Men’s Warehouse etc.)
- A mid-range putter
- $50 Home Depot Gift Card
- Art Supplies
- STOCKINGS & STUFFERS
- Art Classes
- Bus passes (Day or Month Passes)
- Gas Cards
- $100 in Kroger Cards
- McKay Used Book Store Gift Card
- Sign up to be an Advocate with one of our residents . . . the gift of friendship!
- AND – for the Open Table Community . . . a Washer & Dryer!
If it’s easier for you to make a donation to help with the gifts, please feel free to click on our “Donate Now” button above & on our website. THANKS!