MELROSE, Mass. — Like many people, Scott Macaulay is making sure everything is set for Thanksgiving dinner. But unlike most, he's preparing it all mostly for strangers.
It started 33 years ago when he faced a holiday alone.
"My folks split up in September of 1935, and when couples split up, people don’t talk to each other so no one was talking to each other and I don’t like to eat alone and Thanksgiving was coming up," he said.
So he put an ad in the local paper inviting 12 people to his house for dinner.
Now, the owner of Macaulay's House of Vacuum Cleaners extends an open invitation to anyone who needs company.
"There are a lot of places that provide Thanksgiving dinner to a home and that’s wonderful but I’m trying to avoid someone sitting by themselves," he said.
He now gets anywhere from 60 to 100 people every year. It's far too many for his home.
So he tries to make the basement of Green Street Baptist Church feel like home, complete with fireplaces, couches and chairs.
It's an eclectic crowd, from college students to people who are new to the country, to those who have recently lost spouses.
"It’s a changing population – 11 people that came last year will not be here this year for different reasons. Some went to nursing homes, assisted living and some passed away," he said.
He has made dozens of scrapbooks documenting everyone he's met over the years.
"I don’t think it’s so much the food. I'm not the greatest cook. I try, but it’s a place to go," he said.
And that's enough to make what could be a lonely day something to look forward to.
"There’s pencils because they are going to write down everything they’re thankful for because that changes the outlook, from whatever reason they’re coming to the dinner to a positive outlook because you start concentrating on what you’re thankful for," he said.
While he already has a head count for this week's holiday meal, he said he would never turn anyone away.
Cox Media Group