The Mission In My Words
Over the years, I guess you could say I’ve grown used to spending my holidays away from home. I’m from Chicago, but in the television business, the most important ratings are based on who’s watching in November and December, so vacations are not allowed this time of year. That means no trips home for me during the holidays.
Still, I look forward to this time of year and celebrating here in Nashville, my home away from home. Over the past 24 years, I’ve had the privilege of joining the Nashville Rescue Mission family for special holiday meals.
I see a lot of the same volunteers each year. We laugh at our hairnets and help each other find the right apron. We learn and follow the strict hand-washing drill. We marvel at the skill of the cooks behind the scenes, making sure everything is warm and ready right on time.
As I help serve a meal, I recognize a few faces. Some I’ve seen around town and others from previous years of serving. Then there are those who come through the line in their Sunday best, beaming with pride and self-confidence. These are the men and women who have just graduated from the Mission’s life-recovery program. It’s hard to miss them. Then there are those, silent, sad faces—seemingly incapable of a smile.
I make a special effort to look each and every one in the eye so they know they are not forgotten. I offer a smile and share a few words of cheer, encouraging them to enjoy their meal and have a happy holiday.
But, the lunch line at the Mission isn’t just for holidays. It operates 24/7, 365 days a year plus one on leap year. The need is met even when no one is watching and there’s not a line out the door to volunteer. But during the holidays, amid the ham, the buttered rolls and the cheerful joy of celebrating together, there is something about serving in the kitchen at the Mission that feels right to me.
Sure, I may miss spending the holidays away from home—but when it comes to family—you’re all around me.