WILKES-BARRE — One by one by one they arrived at Tony Brooks’ door for Thanksgiving dinner.
Three people responded to his invitation posted on Facebook to share a meal and company with him, his husband, Matthew, his parents, Emily and Tony, and dogs, Thacher and Remington.
“They all came by themselves,” Brooks said Friday of his guests. “Nobody showed up unannounced.”
A 90-year-old woman from Provincial Towers saw the post with his phone number and contacted him. So did a formerly homeless man whom Brooks met walking his dogs. The last guest was an elderly man from the Heights.
It was the first time Brooks, who also serves as Wilkes-Barre city councilman, invited people to his downtown residence for the holiday, and he didn’t know how many would take up his offer. His door has been open for Christmas dinner for the past five years, and five or six people usually attend.
As a member of the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on South Franklin Street, his faith motivates him. “We hear it over and over again to love your neighbor,” he said of the Bible’s teachings. He said he takes it to heart and reached out with the invitation as a sign of hospitality.
“Nobody should really be alone during the holidays,” Brooks said.
The dining room table comfortably sits eight, so there was plenty of room. Matthew prepared a typical American Thanksgiving meal of turkey and trimmings. Sorry, there were no desserts. Brooks said his family isn’t big on them. And the guests and the dogs got along nicely. The invite’s only requirement was, “You have to like dogs,” Brooks said.
He downplayed the generosity and kindness that he and his husband and family showed. They enjoyed sharing, he said.
“If in some small way it’s inspiring to others to do the same, that would make me very happy,” Brooks said.