Sunday, November 30, 2008

Old But Not Moldy

I'm popping in two Thanksgiving posts. But I'm struggling with missing Thanksgiving posts. I wrote one for this year, 2008, but not on Thanksgiving day, and I wrote one for last year, 2007, and I wrote one in 2003, the year from hell in my life, but there are no Thanksgiving posts for 2004, 2005 or 2006. Strange? Maybe. But in all likely hood the shade of depression was slowing descending and I was struggling to just think about the holidays. At. All.

Thursday, November 27, 2003
Giving Thanks
Happy Thanksgiving! It's been a bit since I've written, but with all the ills going through the house; flu, colds, sinus infections it's been a stretch to get much on-line time.

Giving thanks today for many things: my family, home, friends, work. The pets too. We lost one last night. Our cute little grey tiger was hit on the road out front. For her the good thing was she was killed immediately, for us, it was bad. How do you tell your little girl that her favorite pet has been hit by a car and killed?

She handled herself well I have to say and although it was a bit of a rough day for her with crying jags now and again, I am proud of her. She tells me now that she will miss Pyewackette. I tell her I will too.

Giving thanks for having that cat in our life too. She was a pest, but an adorable pest. One of those cats that followed you everywhere and meowed all day!

Thursday, November 29, 2007
Great Expectations
My great expectations for the holiday did not include: Cheddar ... the really cute, sweet, adorable Brittany ... rescued by my nephew-in-law last spring. Still not completely trained for visiting other people's homes, but hey! NIL is working on it and by this time next year, voila! A wonderful dog!!! ... What's a family gathering without a little, er, extra dog thrown in, just for fun? He's a bird dog. He acts like a bird dog. He watches, points, stands. Points some more. Bounces up and down in front of the French doors in the dining room. And in fairness to Cheddar (and NIL) once he acclimated, he was fine. He is a very sweet personality. Oh yeah, and he peed on the kitchen cabinet, but hey ... no biggie.

No, that wasn't expected at all.

Trust me to get things under control. I can shop, clean, prep, cook and kick a dog's butt all in one exhausting day. But I didn't. I let NIL take care of the dog and that worked out quite well.
Did I tell you we had fun? We did. So here's the fun part and the post I've been writing in my head for days:

I was expecting HIM! (there was a picture here) That's our darling Evan who had plenty of time to be spoiled by cousins and Auntie. And he got to play with Landon who is, of course, as big a love to us as ever. They shared, they played, the talked gibberish to each other and were not only the hit of the day, they were our entertainment! We had new toys for them to play with, an old rocking chair and lots and lots of patience and hugs!

Did I tell you there was some bad stuff? No? Well, I'm not gonna mention it here. But there was. Into every holiday a little rain must fall. Or not. I prefer or not. I'll get over it.

I think, we, in the general sense of we as human beings, place expectations that far exceed what our intelligent brain knows will occur. Our emotional brain, the brain that gives virtual hugs and kisses and visions of the perfect holiday seems to push rational thought aside and we plod on, march forward, burst onto the scene with ....


Oh. Expectations!

To be absolutely honest, I had only the expectation that I would do the lion's share of the work. Which is exactly what occurred. Oh, I had help as needed -- I won't take that away from my helpers -- but I take on the challenge of the perfect holiday for myself. Each year 'the perfect holiday' changes in my mind.

Do not let me complain because that would be like taking the holiday away from not only myself, but my family and guests.

Thanksgiving has always been and will always be, my favorite holiday. My favorite family and friend gathering. My favorite meal to cook -- which includes the shopping (with my canvas shopping bags in tow) lugging, prepping, cooking and putting it all on the table. I love to prepare for this holiday and I thoroughly enjoy each moment of the day. [even if I do have to train a dog while I'm cooking! :) ]

Getting out my grandmother's china, some of my mother's and some of my own gives me a sense of belonging and longing ... for childhood Thanksgivings at my aunt and uncles New Hampshire camp ... long tables set end to end. Lots of food, relatives, extended family, friends and noise. Men cooking the turkeys, women preparing veggies, kids unfolding chairs and placing dishes, silverware and the like on the tables. Wood smoke and dark blue water of the lake. Cold, crisp air. After meal walks in the woods where we would gather the greens and berries to adorn Christmas gifts and wreaths.

Yes. Sometimes I long for those days again. I would like to impart them to my own children. I know that those days, of belonging and being a part of a large, happy crowd are what made me grow to love Thanksgiving. And all that goes with it.

So what am I talking about? Expectations. Visions. Dreams. Years ago I learned that surer than shoot, if I placed an expectation upon anyone other than myself, I would be dearly disappointed. Sorely disappointed. Arguments would occur. Bickering would happen. Tears would be shed and doors would be slammed. Why? Well, simple ... we each had our own expectations of what the holiday would be.

One year I ...
... made an actual grown up, mature decision. I promised myself that I would have Thanksgiving every year and I would enjoy it the way I had as a child. Not because I expect others to see the holiday the way I do. Not because I expect others to have the same happy memories that I do. I decided that I would enjoy the holiday and I promised myself that I would not expect anything from anyone other than myself because I love Thanksgiving and I love the people that share it with me.

(Well, let's leave out the expecting people to arrive on time, enjoy their meal and you know, say 'thanks, that was good.' I still expect that)

That promise to myself has allowed me to really enjoy every aspect of Thanksgiving. I shop ahead of time for those items that I can and keep a list at the ready. As the day draws near I try to keep ahead of housework so that I'm not running about like a mad woman the day before or the morning of. Some years I'm successful at that -- others not so much, but it's all okay. In the end I don't think anyone really cares how dusty my house is or is not.

That promise to myself has allowed me to look forward to prepping and cooking and enjoying each guest who joins us for Thanksgiving. Some years it's the four or us with the five of them and others, like this one, we add a few more to the mix.

That promise has allowed me to wake on Thanksgiving morning and regardless what needs to be done throughout the morning, give thanks for my life, my family, my friends.

That promise has allowed me to accept that not everyone moves through the holiday the same way I do. They too have their childhood memories and some may be happier than mine -- others may not.

Is there anything at all I would change about this Thanksgiving just past? Sure there is. But the changes have nothing to do with the number of people, the prep work, the cooking or even the dog that peed on my kitchen cabinet (lucky for him (and me) Dave was in the basement).

There is the matter of the yams and brown sugar and pecans and coconut. YUK! Oh, and the frozen squash! What was I thinking?!?!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I'm a bit late with the wishes, but the thoughts were with you all for the days leading up to and throughout the day. I offered thanks to God for all of you too.

And now I'm heading into Christmas.

With absolutely no expectations....


ada said...

This entry is exactly what the doctor ordered! thanks for the insight and the laugh!!
Have a great week.

Lisa said...

Loved reading these posts! What wonderful Thanksgiving thoughts and memories!