Well tomorrow is the big day. Are you ready? Have you loosened your belt or put on yoga pants? Have you claimed the spot where you plan to nap after the big meal? I’m sort of ready but not really! In years past I would wait till the day of to do EVERYTHING, but I found that made me more resentful and less thankful, so now I try to do a little bit at a time so I won't get overwhelmed by it all. I saw first hand what can happen when it all gets to be too much, just the way it happened to Paul’s mom one year.
My mother-in-law was a very accomplished entrepreneur with exacting standards and a perfectionistic view in everything from business to running a household. Her perfectionism and her ability to cook were not on the same page however. She was a good cook, don't get me wrong, but it did not come easily for her. She buzzed around the kitchen like a Tasmanian devil always only one step away from complete and utter chaos. I am not exaggerating when I say there were fires on occasion - both literal and metaphorical. Because she worked so hard when it came to a big meal, by the time we all sat down to eat she was exhausted. One year we had a large gathering seated around a perfectly set table. All the antique china and crystal was out with perfectly folded napkins at each place, and we sat talking and eating the scrumptious meal. During the dinner one of the guests was telling a story as the whole group sat listening in awe. When the speaker paused for dramatic effect, a not so subtle snore from the head of the table gave a clue that not everyone was paying attention.
And speaking of Thanksgiving stories....
Just the way little kids like to hear the story of when they were born - their story of origin - our country is the same way. Thanksgiving is that story. It is a romanticized version that probably shares very little similarity to the real events and emotions of the actual occasion.
The story that is still very much alive in my grade school mind is very happy pilgrims in their buckled hats sitting down with the Native Americans and having a joyous feast. In my my version of the story, I don’t include the suffering from illness and hunger, the emotional pain of being so far from home, scared and exhausted, and the fear of a true battle breaking out between the invited guests and the hosts.
Cut to today, and we have another story. We have the Normal Rockwell version. A beautiful table laden with every food imaginable. All the women are in the kitchen cooking amiably and cheerfully while the men watch a football game on TV or discuss the flag football game they’re going to play in the front yard with the neighbors. We don’t tend to include the fact that Dad is not talking to Grandpa, Uncle Joe is upset with Uncle Steve, or that Aunt Sarah flaked out again and forgot to bring dessert like she said she would, and all the cooks are scrambling to cover her gaffe.
Hopefully we meet somewhere between the ideal and the reality. There’s usually a small window between the food hitting the table and when the feeding frenzy begins that everyone quiets down, looks around the table, and sees who and what they are most thankful for. And it’s all right there: shelter and sustenance, family and friends, lots of love, and sometimes a "nap" during the meal! Happy Thanksgiving!