Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gobbles Gone By

I can’t believe Thanksgiving was already a week ago. The days leading up to it were anything but joyful as a disagreement with Mike's family had escalated into an episode of Everyone Loves Raymond. Still, Thanksgiving Day, Mike and I made a point to enjoy it together.  We agreed to a technology break, and didn't turn the computer on for the entire day.  We went for a drive, took the girls to the park, baked turkey & leaf-shaped cookies, and then Mike played with the girls as I started the day-long preparations for the meal that evening. Gluten, soy, and dairy free sweet potatoes, white potatoes, pumpkin pie, corn, peas, and finally turkey.  I forgot about the turkey until my dad showed up to borrow my baster one hour before we were supposed to be at my mom’s house.  I panicked, yanked the defrosted three-pound breast roast from the fridge and then desperately searched the cooking directions for the time.  1 and ¾ hours-NNNOOOOO!!!

“How on Earth am I supposed to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner without having any turkey-my favorite part of this holiday meal experience?”  Then my eyes fell upon the words- microwave oven- and my heart skipped a beat. Microwave at 30% power for…..50 minutes!!! Hallelujah, I was saved.  I chucked the bird into a glass dish, and 5 beeps latter was pouring the potatoes into serving’s platters.  Mike was looking super handsome and Jenna and Naomi adorable.   I had just 20 minutes to get myself presentable so I put on a Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer DVD to distract Jenna, gave Mike a playful swat on the butt, and made my way to the bathroom.

I showered, then glanced at the clock and called in between toothbrush strokes, “Jenna!” “We are leaving in 10 minutes!” “Mike, does she have her shoes on yet?” I rushed out of the bedroom to find that not only was Jenna barefoot but she had ripped off the matching velvet headband and undid the beautiful braid from her hair that I had so painstakingly styled before.  Naomi was making faces foreshadowing a massive dirty diaper and the microwave was screaming that my turkey was finished.  “What did you say, honey?” Mike blinked up at me from the couch. 

In three trips to the car, Mike and I loaded the girls, 6 dishes of food, and with my wet hair dripping, pulled out of the driveway and headed down the road.  Thankfully my parents live only a mile away or our fashionably late 10 minutes would have been much worse.  But there was no room left in the driveway so we had to park in an empty lot down the street from my parent’s house, a favorite with neighbors walking their dogs, making it the last place I would want to be.   

“Watch where you step!” I said as I went to take Jenna from her car seat. That's when I noticed she was barefoot. “Jenna where are your shoes?” I said aloud but directed my gaze to Mike who just shrugged exasperatedly and said, “I couldn’t find them and then she threw a tantrum.” “Besides we were already late.”   I flung Jenna over one hip, balancing the pie in the other hand, tiptoed my way through the field of landmines, up the street to the driveway, and then to the front door.  

“I WANNA WALLLKK! I WAANNNNAA WALK!” Jenna screamed the entire way. 
The door opened as Jenna continued her display of protest, “WAAAAHHHHH!”
“Hi, Andrea.” I said to my cousin and when I saw her surprised face, I said, “Yeah, happy Thanksgiving to you too.”
“Ummm?” She raised her eyes questionably as she stared at Jenna rolling around on the doormat.
“Don’t ask!” I said.  I handed the pie to my cousin; left Jenna collapsed in a crying heap on the tile floor, and then headed back to the car to continue to unload.  

Grass, poop, grass poop, I managed to reload both hands with food items and began to head back when I realized no one was behind me.  “Mike?” I yelled out loud but he wasn’t there.  “If he left me out here to get all this stuff alone I am going to be so mad,” I grumbled under my breath. I took a couple more steps and then for some reason I stopped cold dead in my tracks. 

Was it the thickness of the grass or the heaviness of my new Ann Klein heals slowing me down….That’s when I noticed it.  The huge pile of sundried German Sheppard sized poop speared like a shish kabob on my right high heal. “No, I softly whimpered.” My first new pair of shoes in a year and a half and the only reason I even got them was that my mother in law gave me that awesome gift card for my birthday.  “My mother in law,” I thought to myself, “who thinks I’m a control freak wife who forces Mike to do whatever I want.”  I wanted to cry but just when the first tear was about to fall, my wonderful brother came around the corner. 

“Hey Jame, do you need any help?”

“Yes! Please!!!” I sniffed, “Thank you so much, Jesse!” “Where is Mike anyway?”

“He’s inside talking.” 

I felt my nostrils flare and self-pity over my ruined birthday shoes morphed into a stressed out mama/misunderstood daughter in law/forgotten wife- anger.  I plodded forcibly through the grass toward the house, chunks of brownish-gray flying from my right shoe.  Kicking off my shoes by the front porch, I turned the knob with my finger like toes (a skill perfected in my youth) and pushed the door open.  There was Mike, laughing away at something my Uncle Wayne had just said.  I tried to keep cool but as I opened my mouth I was shocked by the high decimal at which my words came, “Miiikkke?” “I’ve got like 16 other things to bring IN!” Actually, it was more like 6 but stress overload caused my brain to malfunction.

I borrowed a pair of my mom's shoes and spoke just above a whisper as Mike, my Uncle, and I walked back to the van, “Did you forget how much food we have to bring in?” “Don't you realize I need your help?” “Were you honestly going to leave me to bring it in by myself after I cooked all day long and now have to truck it all into the house on my own?” Poor Mike didn’t have a chance to answer in between my rapid fire questions.  Then my frustrations switched to another subject, “You want to be there don’t you?” I questioned him. “You wish you had done what your mom said for you to do and gone by yourself to her house for Thanksgiving and left me alone with the kids.”

“No, Jamie," Mike said, "I told you that is not what I wanted.” “I want to spend the day with you and our girls.” “Now, you said you’d try to put this whole mess with my mom out of your mind for the day.”

“I know, but…” 

Mike interrupted, “Listen, I’m sorry I forgot to help bring these dishes in.” “Your Uncle and I started talking about cars, and…well you know me.”  I took a deep breath then sighed. (There isn’t another non-human thing on this Earth that Mike loves more than cars.)

As we trotted across the lawn for the last time with the bowls and plates in our hands it occurred to me just how stupid the whole thing was.  Mike and I basically brought an entire mini Thanksgiving feast to Thanksgiving dinner.  It would have been easier on me and less stress for Mike and the girls if we had just stayed home.  

But once I got inside, gave my greetings, and saw all the family’s smiles, my heart started to calm. It was an inconvenience, but it was our last Thanksgiving with Jesse before he headed off into the world and who knows how many more we will have with Grandma.

After grace, everyone dug in.  I was delighted to find that my mom made me my own special gluten-free stuffing which was just delicious. My first time ever microwave turkey tasted just like the real thing, only crispier on the outside, so I still got to enjoy my favorite meal of the year after all.  I had a lot to be thankful for: my family’s health, a roof over our heads, two beautiful girls, an amazing husband (who sometimes forgets to help unload the car but dearly loves his wife and kids), a God who is faithful no matter what life throws at us, and a family who loves me.  It was a good day and a great Thanksgiving.

The next morning I decided to forgo the chaos of Black Friday shopping for the first time in 11 years.  Instead of massive deals, I got a different blessing, resolution with my mother-in-law.  I am happy to report that we received an email from Mama-V late Friday night asking that we put this incident behind us and that, when we are ready, they’d love to see us. How wonderful that she and Mike’s dad are Christians who believe in the importance of reconciliation. Saturday morning we had a wonderful visit and it was as if nothing had ever happened between us.  So, I’m another year older, another year wiser, and another Thanksgiving is behind us.  I’m not sure all that the future holds for our little family but I can say that we are stronger than we used to be in more ways than even I can imagine.  

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