Sunday, November 28, 2010

More thoughts on Thanksgiving

Of course we had so much to be thankful for this year, not least of all the fact that Benjamin and Asher are thriving and wonderful.  One year ago I was pregnant and had not yet been placed on bed rest, and I really had no idea what lay ahead of us.  I am also lucky in many other ways that I think about all the time: I have a husband who I love and who loves me; a supportive family who lives nearby (and supportive in-laws who live farther away!); a safe, warm home; more food than I can eat; and plenty of extras that make life more comfortable and enjoyable.
Three of the things for which I am thankful!

Over the past couple of days, I read horror stories about Thanksgiving on the New York Times website.  There were over 300 comments on there, and some of the stories were fairly benign (things like forgetting to turn on the oven and the turkey still being raw after 3 hours), but some were truly awful (stories of abuse, being made to feel unwanted and unloved over the holiday).

I have always loved Thanksgiving, and it is probably my favorite holiday.  Partly because I love food, and we make a big production over cooking and eating, and my mom and Aunt Jane are excellent cooks, so everything is always delicious.  But partly because so much of my family comes to town, and I love getting to see everyone.  This year I had all four of my grandparents here, and how many people at my age still have that?

Reading those stories, I realized that many of our Thanksgivings are marked by events that other people consider horror stories.  One year my uncle drove my grandparents down from Boston and commented upon arrival to my father that "the brakes felt funny."  My dad, being the conscientious person he is, immediately took the car to the mechanic only to be told that the brakes were finished, and my family was lucky to have made it to town alive!

That same year, my grandmother had brought her good jewelry with her (no one knows why), and then lost it.  Turned out she had taken it out of her bag and put it in her lap while in the car (again, no one knows why), and when she got out of the car in my aunt and uncle's driveway, the bag of jewelry fell into the leaves piled up at the edge of the driveway.  Fortunately, someone found the jewelry within a few days, but Grandma was going crazy until then!

And we think it was that same year, but maybe it wasn't, my grandpa was having trouble swallowing and choked on dinner.  But rather than say something, he got up and went to the bathroom and was there forever.  Finally we checked on him, we were so frightened, and worried we would have to leave in the middle of dinner to take him to the ER (and more worried about him dying, but I felt bad even saying that).

That same grandpa was, for years, responsible for smoking a turkey.  He had a very precise method and no one else knew how to do it.  One morning, while preparing the turkey, something slipped and he cut himself fairly deeply.  My mom took one look at it and said, "Put a band-aid on it.  No one else knows how to cook that turkey, and I'm not letting you go to the hospital until the turkey's done."  So after dinner that night, my dad took his dad to the ER, where they said it was too late to do anything but had he come in that morning, he would have gotten stitches.

There are other things that have gone on and been said, but I can't write about them because family members might read this.  Suffice it to say, think of the things that go on with your family and assume it happens with ours!  In the end, most Thanksgivings are very stressful for my mom, and I love the end-of-weekend decompression with her where we laugh over all the family's foibles, and usually indulge in some retail therapy.

This year was different, and that was a little hard for me.  I did not get to spend the same amount of time with family that I usually do, since my schedule is dictated by my boys' schedule.  My sister often spends Thanksgiving at my house, and we linger over coffee in the mornings and go for jogs for exercise.  This year, she arrived Wednesday night, and after Benjamin woke up at 2 am crying, she said she would stay with my parents the rest of the weekend.  I didn't get to actually say goodbye to either set of my grandparents, since they all left during nap times or bed time.  I know that everyone understands and is just happy to have seen me and the boys, but it is an adjustment for me.  I don't know how many years I have left with all my grandparents, so it is hard when I feel as though I have missed out on time with them.
The boys with me this morning-- they get jealous if one of them is on my lap and the other isn't!

I did follow the age-old tradition of retail therapy, though, and went with the boys to the TJ Maxx near our home.  I found some great stuff, and feel really excited about the gifts I'll be giving next month!

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