Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

Opticare Vision/Express Mobile Transport

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Fort Thomas couple opens their home for "Orphans' Thanksgiving"

(courtesy Best Little Studio Photography)
 By Colin Moore

Most of us will spend Thanksgiving with friends or family but what would you do if you were in a new area, or if you didn’t have any friends or family? Spending holidays alone can be a lonely experience but Fort Thomas couple Jim and Audra Henline may have the answer in their annual Orphans’ Thanksgiving dinner.

Jim and his family open their home to anyone who wants to spend Thanksgiving with them. Attendees register online first, agree to bring a dish to the potluck dinner and are provided with details of where to be and when to be there. It may be that they are new to the area and have nobody to spend the holiday with. They may have no family, or have been disowned for religious reasons or for being LBTQ. The Henlines don’t ask questions, just try to offer somewhere to “have some pie and relax” with likeminded individuals. Jim says:

“We try to just relax. It’s not a party, we’re not getting drunk or overindulging. We eat a plate or two of food, maybe have a drink or two, hang out and have fun and get to know people.”

(courtesy Best Little Studio Photography)
They’ve been running the dinner for six years, with the last two of them here in Fort Thomas. The idea first came about when they moved from the Cincinnati/ NKY area to Washington state in 2009. Jim remembers “We realised we didn’t know any other people and were just going to be sitting about.” They used to get in touch with other people in the same position and a Thanksgiving tradition was born. “We’d go to each others house every year, there was usually twenty five to thirty people.” The people who attended usually found they had more in common than they might have thought. “One year the host told us that she was hosting another group the next week. When we asked who she sheepishly told us that it was a Mensa group. It turned out almost everyone there was in Mensa. We’re all geeks, our favourite thing is usually to play Cards Against Humanity and have fun.”

Last year in Fort Thomas WKRC came to report on the proceedings for TV. Two families attended with children. The Henlines have three kids of their own and are also happy for guests to bring pets.

(courtesy Best Little Studio Photography)

Jim and his wife run a potluck dinner once a month, usually through the Cincinnati sub Reddit page. He describes himself as “a big scary guy” and has found the dinners to be a great way to meet people. “When we moved back to the area, most of our friends had already left. A lot of areas had changed so we thought, “Lets get to know people and meet new friends.” It has been a lot easier than going out to bars or just hoping to run into people.” The connections he has made at the dinners have already proved to be life saving. When the family first returned to the area, Jim was unfortunately laid off. Through the people he had met through the dinners “I had enough connections to be able to continue working and had people to fall back on.”

(courtesy Best Little Studio Photography)

The Henlines already have 15 or so RSVPs for this year’s dinner, some from new people and some from people who have attended other pot lucks.  The repeat visitors are a good sign that people are enjoying the gatherings: “One guy even drives from Seaman, Ohio, which is about an hour and a half away.” Anyone interested in attending can RSVP at

No comments:

Post a Comment