Friday, November 23, 2012

Best Thanksgiving Ever

Re-running an oldie:

This was our best Thanksgiving ever.
To start, I love Thanksgiving, which stands alone as the sole American holiday that does not demand over-the-top perfectionism with all the trappings. No gifts, no pageants, no cards, minimal decorations. I wrote last year about the Insidious Plot to undermine all that is essential about Thanksgiving. The plot grows ever thicker – and I have implicated myself in its inexorable plan. But still, for the time being, Thanksgiving remains simple.

But that’s not what I most appreciated this year.

Dave and I slept late, drank coffee, read the papers together, and then took Ainsley to Mass.

All this was good, but it’s not what I most appreciated this year.

I spent the day cooking and schlepping around the house, nibbling on this and that, totally relaxing, watching Mary Poppins with the kids.

But that’s not what I most appreciated this year.

The weather was fabulous. Sunny and beautiful during the day; nippy enough for a bonfire at night.

But that’s not what I most appreciated this year.

I pumped up the Christmas tunes -- Frank and Bing and Dean, The Nutcracker and Kenny Rogers.

But that's not what I most appreciated this year.

For the first time ever, I neither over-cooked the turkey nor unknowingly baked the bag of giblets and the neck. Last year we blew out two different meat thermometers, so this year I had to go with the “Are the juices running clear?” line of inquiry to see if the bird was done. Everyone at the table agreed: best turkey ever!

But that’s not what I most appreciated this year.

So what was the best part of our celebration?

Well, John’s been battling croup. "I'm freezing," he announced just as we were starting dinner. He spent the balance of the meal wrapped up in a quilt with his head on my lap. I remember so many, many interrupted and disjointed meals when my children were babies. Cutting meat and refastening bibs. Wiping faces and retrieving sippy cups. Like every other mother on planet Earth, I was absolutely convinced that never again would a hot bite of food pass my lips.

And suddenly they’re older and less needy.

Until they’re sick.

I ate Thanksgiving dinner with my favorite five-year-old huddled on my lap.  And I considered two thoughts.

First, I thought of the power of the human touch – a husband’s caress as he walks through the kitchen; a three-year-old’s grip as you amble through a parking lot; the tight, late night hug of a teenager. John routinely sleeps clutching his favorite toy of the day -- a little red Corvette, a Batman action figure, a spaceship.

I woke up in the middle of the night a few days back, and he was clutching my big toe. No joke.

Dave wanted to move John to the couch; on Thanksgiving Day I wanted nothing more than for John to stay put so that I could sit and be grateful for the love, the affection, the touch that comes my way much more often than I appreciate.
Then I reflected on the joy that stems from doing my best for the people I love. I looked across a table full of food that I had spent three days purchasing and preparing. The fare was neither fancy nor innovative. The décor was festive, but in the age of Martha Stewart and Pinterest, predictable, maybe even plain.

But it was the fruit of hard work and love. I did my best, and my kids, my husband, well, they were thankful.

 They were thankful.

(And so am I.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post (though I'm sorry John's had croup). There is so much to be said for keeping things simple, isn't there? Our Thanksgiving this year was so minimalistic as to be nearly imperceptible. Our son came up for a few hours, we had lunch all together, and then pumpkin pie for afters. But as with you, it was the fact that we were all together that was the most important.

And I couldn't agree with you more about the power of loving touch. One of the few things that consistently helps my poor daughter is foot and back massages - and hugs.

I hope you have a very relaxing rest of the Thankgiving weekend, and that John is soon all better.