While driving through town on our way to the Neighborhood Congregational Church on Thanksgiving morning last year, I caught a glimpse of the ocean before turning left onto Glenneyre Street, and was awestruck by how brightly it shimmered in the sunlight.
I smiled and felt thankful to be living in such a beautiful place. We arrived at the church juggling our cranberry-orange relish, sweet potatoes and pumpkin bread up the stairs to the hall lined with rows of tables and chairs, which was starting to fill up with people.
As we got settled in, I soon discovered a different kind of beauty.
The church was bustling with volunteers setting-up for its annual community Thanksgiving potluck organized by the church and the Friendship Shelter. Gary and I dove right in and began to help organize the endless array of food. An entire table was dedicated to desserts!
Cranberry sauces of different textures were lined-up next to an assortment of stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and green beans. Turkey was being carved in the kitchen and would soon be in line with the side dishes. Kids gathered around the piano as one of their peers played show tunes. Suddenly, we were all ushered out to the courtyard by a woman who told us that we were going to sing as a girl handed out lyrics printed on sheets of paper. I expected to see the words to a religious hymn but found something more appropriate. The familiar melody and words to “America the Beautiful” lead by Reverend Beu began to fill the courtyard. I looked up from my sheet of lyrics at the smiling faces of kids, old-timers, baby boomers and teenagers. Every age, a multitude of ethnicities and all walks of life were standing in the courtyard side by side, happily singing together.
The Thanksgiving feast that followed was something akin to a giant family gathering with relatives you don’t know very well along with a few favorites you don’t see too often. Through the thick crowd we managed to find a place in the serving line, and helped serve those whose hands and plates were overflowing.
I handed out corn muffins with the gal next to me in the serving line, and after sitting down to eat saw some familiar faces. Neighbors David and Jean were among the several volunteer servers and turkey carvers, friend Jim Rue arrived with a giant pumpkin filed with spicy wild rice and local musician Doug Miller entertained us with the violin.
I took my last bite of a scrumptious pineapple coconut pecan bar and observed the hall filled with families, singles and couples, strangers and friends all sharing a Thanksgiving together.
Here was a special kind of beauty that Laguna Beach beholds…
yet sometimes gets overshadowed by the ocean,
and its beautiful canyons.
Happy Thanksgiving to all from Cat Lady and her cat crew!