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  • Once upon a time, over ten years ago now, I spent my first Thanksgiving alone. My husband and I had separated and my children were with him. To make matters worse, it was also my birthday. I had joined a few friends and enjoyed their hospitality but the reality was that as I pulled my car into my space, I sat in the dark a few moments, feeling dejected. Lonely.

    My apartment was in a big old townhouse. The first floor was a law office. I was on the second floor. A Spanish gentleman who I occassionally greeted when we met at our mailboxes lived above me. He spoke little English, and I spoke little Spanish. He was distinguished and quiet, and I would go for weeks without seeing him.

    That night, I was just getting out of my car when I heard a noise over by the fire escape. I wondered if there was an animal out there and froze next to the car. I made a habit of taking the fire escape steps to get to my apartment, which had a small back porch and a door that led to my kitchen.

    From the shadows, the Spanish gentleman from the third floor strolled into the circle of light from a street lamp. I was relieved to see him. It wasn't a stranger, he was someone I knew. We inclined our heads, as we usually did, and I smiled to myself because it was obvious that he had been celebrating. He listed almost imperceptibly, shifting his weight.

    I began to climb the steps and had gotten about half-way up when he began singing. In a voice that was strong and sincere, he was singing to me. I turned to listen. He sang a Spanish love song, at least I think it was a love song, it had a romantic sound and I recognized the the word corazon, which means heart. When he finished, he bowed and disappeared into the shadows again.

    That night I had received one of the best birthday presents of my life. The gift of a spontaneous song reminded me of how much I have to be thankful for.

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