'Brighten The Corner Where You Are': Finding A New Way To Be Thankful In A Pandemic For 35 years, Scott Macaulay has been organizing the annual holiday gathering in Massachusetts for anyone who wants to come. "I can't fix the country ... but I can brighten my own corner," he said.
NPR logo

'Brighten The Corner Where You Are': Finding A New Way To Be Thankful In A Pandemic

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/933917090/934459537" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
'Brighten The Corner Where You Are': Finding A New Way To Be Thankful In A Pandemic

'Brighten The Corner Where You Are': Finding A New Way To Be Thankful In A Pandemic

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/933917090/934459537" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And it is time for StoryCorps this morning. For the last 35 years, a vacuum repairman in Melrose, Mass., named Scott Macaulay has been hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for people who have nowhere else to go. It was a situation he found himself in after his parents' difficult divorce. Here is Scott from a StoryCorps interview recorded in 2010.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

SCOTT MACAULAY: I just thought, well, there must be some other people that are in the same boat. And why should they have that rotten feeling? Why should they be stuck home alone? So what I did was I put an ad in the local paper, and I offered to cook Thanksgiving dinner for 12 people if they gave me a call. So that's what I did.

GREENE: Yeah. And the tradition has just grown and grown. Last year, nearly 100 guests showed up and Loretta Saint-Louis was one of them. She spoke with Scott recently over StoryCorps Connect.

LORETTA SAINT-LOUIS: I was new to Melrose, and I didn't really know people here. And I saw the advertisement. I think it was in the paper. And it took a bit of courage for me to just call you.

MACAULAY: What was your first impression of this crazy guy on the other end of the phone?

(LAUGHTER)

SAINT-LOUIS: You were so friendly. I was blown away. All the care that you put into it, it felt like I was going to a family Thanksgiving event, and I'm going to miss that a lot.

MACAULAY: Yeah. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, I've offered people alternatives to us getting together.

SAINT-LOUIS: It's nice to know that you still want to feed us, but it's the togetherness of it that's important.

MACAULAY: You know, all the people that come, they are young and old, male, female, from different places, backgrounds and countries. And what I find always interesting is, despite the great differences, they all have similar things that they are thankful for. And some of them will make you cry. Some people say their son is now speaking to them. You know, no matter what your condition is, healthwise, financial or newly divorced or newly widowed, they focus for some time on good things. And I think that's wonderful.

SAINT-LOUIS: What advice do you have for people who will be alone this year?

MACAULAY: I would say call everybody and anybody that you can think of, tell them I love you. Don't talk with your mouth full. You know, we don't want spraying turkey all over the computer screen or the phone, but connect with as many people that you think might be alone or would appreciate a call and tell them you're thinking of them. My philosophy is I can't fix the country or the world or even the town, but I can brighten my own corner. It doesn't matter what any of the differences that we can divide ourselves with. If your neighbor's house is burning down, you run to help. You run to put the fire out. I'm not going to sit around, talk about it. I'm just going to do something about it. And that's sort of what the Thanksgiving dinner is all about. That would be my hope for America, that everybody would just brighten the corner where they are.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "VITTORO")

GREENE: Scott Macaulay makes Thanksgiving dinner each year for those with nowhere else to go. He was speaking with one of his guests, Lorretta Saint-Louis, in Melrose, Mass. And if you are unable to gather with loved ones this year, you can record a meaningful conversation like Scott and Loretta did using StoryCorps Connect. Learn more at thegreatlisten.org.

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.