Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Gratitude 2014

Standard

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

I’m writing this in the wee hours partially because I had a big mug of coffee ice cream at 9:30pm, so I’m wide awake and partially because I’ve been trying to write a post for about 17 days and am determined to finish this one before we leave for New Jersey later this morning. (Mostly because of the coffee ice cream.)

Earlier today, the Loud One told me that she LOVES Thanksgiving because there’s so much good food. And by that, she means crescent rolls and pie.

I told her that while she is not alone in thinking about Thanksgiving as a food-centric holiday, it’s really important to remember that this day is about gratitude; you know, giving thanks. She said, “Right. I’m thankful for my family,” and I said, “That’s great! I’m thankful for coffee.” She said, “You can’t say that!” and I said, “You’re right… I SHOULD have said that I’m thankful for the creamer that goes in my coffee because without that, the coffee tastes like… bad.

It goes without saying that I’m extremely thankful for my family – immediate, extended and in-law’ed. I hit the lottery on all three accounts and man, do I know it. I also have several friends that I know would drop their coffee/wine/desert to help me out if I needed it. (You all know who you are and which choice belongs to you… ) I’m truly [hashtag] blessed.

BUT…

It’s also the little things.

So with that in mind… I give you my Gratitude List for 2014. Randomly selected and in no particular order, here are the things that I’m thankful for right now.

The Thanksgiving Day parade
It starts in less than eight hours and I CAN’T WAIT. I love seeing Matt Lauer and Al Roker and [insert female host here] in their festive winter garb – red scarves and Irish sweaters – making small talk about those talented Spirit of America dancers and about Snoopy’s tenure in the parade (36 years!). I love the odd pairings on the floats like Carrie Underwood singing with the Pilgrims, KISS hanging with the Sesame Street gang and Meghan Trainor following the Pillsbury Dough Boy.* I love predicting what the annual controversy will be – another ill-placed Victoria’s Secret ad? Or maybe a performance by the cast of Kinky Boots? I love it all. I really hope Jimmy Fallon and The Roots sing “We Will Rock You” again this year because that really spoke to my soul in 2012. *These are all real, scheduled balloons and musical acts this year, although I did make up the combinations. 

Anne Lamott 
After finishing Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers a couple of months ago, I became fairly interested obsessed with Anne Lamott and now I can’t stop reading her words. ALL OF HER WORDS. I think many of her sentences are like tiny works of art and I feel like I’m becoming a slightly better person just by paying attention to her. I also feel insanely jealous of her talent, so maybe I’m not THAT much better yet.

Given it’s the day of thanks, you can start with this: Counting Our Blessings: Why We Say Grace.

The Mindy Show/Parenthood/The Shonda Rhimes Thursday Night Line-Up
Yup, I’m thankful for TV. Look, I have to fold a lot of laundry. I can either do it in sad, boring silence OR I can watch Scott Foley sit in a hole with no shirt on (Scandal reference). Seems like a pretty obvious choice to me.

Also, Mindy Kaling is FUNNY and Parenthood makes me cry. For the whole hour. Every week. It’s like therapy.

*I could be grateful for technology in general, as it allows me to waste countless hours each day on social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but since I simply cannot grasp the concept of tumblr or reddit, I’m going to just stick to TV.

Odd-shaped bookmarks

Originality? Ummm...

Is it a tree? Or…

The fact that I don’t have to cook Thanksgiving dinner
I feel really lucky to not be responsible for a turkey or the majority of the Thanksgiving Day meal (thanks Keith and Colleen!) because all I know is that I made this one dish today and it took me almost two hours and I used EVERY pan and bowl in the kitchen.

Teachers
I shared this conversation I had with the Nibbit on Facebook but it’s worth copying and pasting here:

Nib: Mr. S told us…
Me: Wait, who’s Mr. S?
Nib: He’s the teacher who comes in to teach us about healthy… ness.
Me: OH, cool.
Nib: Yeah, Mr. S told us that when we exercise – you know Mom, like run or jump – there’s a dance party in our heart.

A DANCE PARTY IN OUR HEART!!

Also, I spent two hours with the Loud One crying over long division the other day and that was about all I can handle. Her teacher handles THAT – multiplied by 21 more kids – many more hours each day. And then she still puts smiley faces on her emails home!

The Nibbit’s Kindergarten teacher creates and sends out a video/slide show every month with pictures she’s taken of the kids during the previous weeks. It has MUSIC! And that’s in addition to doing the usual humdrum things like teaching our kids to READ and WRITE and SHARE and BE KIND and KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF. Unbelievable!

And our preschool teachers? Well, they’ve been heroic since I met them seven years ago. It’s going to be really awkward when I keep showing up there next fall even though I won’t have any kids enrolled. Co-op, consider yourself warned.

I am really thankful that these educators spend each day with our kids and teach them an ungodly amount of stuff. Because Lord knows, I could not do that on my own. I’m serious, the Lord really knows that. That’s why whenever I read stories about impressive homeschoolers, I hear a little voice that says, “That could NEVER be you. Put the kids on the bus and let those wonderful professionals do their thing.”

Rummikub 
It’s fun. That’s all.

The Backyardigans
They may be retired, but HD is still obsessed and they bring him a lot of joy. Although, today he asked for “the Backyardigans’ Mom’s and Dad’s houses” for Christmas… I am not sure how Santa is going to pull that one off.

IMG_6909

Roasted Vegetables
I arrived late to the “if you roast vegetables to a crisp, they taste better and your children will eat them” party but believe me, I am here now! My friend Smitty calls it the “carcinogenic sauté” which I’ll admit, does not make me feel like Mother of the Year, but hey, they’re eating vegetables!

Humans of New York 
Restoring my faith in humanity one post at a time, Brandon Stanton is proving the point that “Everyone has a story that will stop your heart” (Claudia Shear). Plus, it’s the ONLY place on the Internet where it’s safe to read the comments.

Last and most definitely not least and not really so “little” …

The good health of my children (knocking so much wood)
Last week, my boys were sick. The Nibbit started dragging on Sunday morning and by Monday he was down for the count. It was a bacterial bronchial infection according to the Urgent Care doctor, which is code for “nothing you can do about it.”

So we just sat. Rather, I sat and he slept on me. His skin was so hot that I had to put a blanket under his face so it wouldn’t heat my blood to a boil. Basically, for two days, we were on the couch. He was so sick, he couldn’t even be nibbity. That was distressing. (and maybe a tiny bit nice.) 

IMG_6309

Tuesday night at midnight, I was giving him a routine dose of Tylenol when I heard a sound come from HD’s room that scared me like a stranger in the dark. I ran in there to find him coughing and desperately trying to get a deep breath and failing. Croup. Channeling my inner-Debra Winger, I took him into the steamy shower and we basically alternated hours in the shower with hours of this:

IMG_6335

And then the next day, we all looked like this:

IMG_6325

Of course, they got better and by the fourth day, they were JUST sick enough to justify sippy cups of juice on the couch.

IMG_6923

Thank God they recovered. I do, thank God. I don’t take their normal, noisy, active, crazy little selves for granted; I know how lucky we have been.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Make happy memories today and count your blessings.  

Here are four of mine.

Here are four of mine.

PS. I’m also grateful for coffee ice cream because it helped me stay awake to finally finish this post. Also, because it’s delicious.

 

 

 

Thankful

Standard

I’ve written about Thanksgiving before, so I’m not going to repeat it all, but I still feel the same way: it’s a little bittersweet.

I’d like to wake up tomorrow morning in my childhood home with the delicious smell of turkey in the air and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade already underway. I’d like to wander into the kitchen and see my Mom cooking eight things as once. I’d like her to assure me that there’s nothing for me to do except break the bread for the stuffing. And then I’d like to spend the day with her.

Instead, I’ll wake up with my own amazing family… hours before the parade begins, unfortunately… and I’ll create some warmth of my own. (Does Yankee Candle make a turkey scent?) We’ll spend the day with family we love and although we’ll miss the ones we have lost, we will laugh. I have so so so much to be thankful for and not a day goes by that I don’t feel grateful for ALL of it.

So it’s a little bit hard and a lot of joy. The losses are big, but the blessings are greater.

Enjoy the holiday everybody… I hope it’s full of laughter and relaxed conversation and the kind of stuffing you like and fake cranberry sauce with the ridges and loose pants and wine and happy noise (whether that means the chaos of kids or the beautiful sound of calmness… your choice) and lots and lots of love.

If your day cannot be full of the above, for whatever reason, I wish you lots of deep breaths and an ability to simply make it through.

Happy Thanksgiving.

You can read last year’s post about Thanksgiving here if you’re interested. It includes a sad story, a happy ending and an Oscar speech.

YES.

YES.

Giving Thanks. A LOT of Thanks.

Standard

I’m going to share with you something I wrote in a moment of sadness last year on Thanksgiving morning. But stay with me… it all has a happy ending.

—————————-

I Always Broke the Bread

That was always my Thanksgiving job. Every year, I would roll out of bed at what… 10:00am? 11:00am? (Remember those days?) And make my lame offer to help.

<yawn> “Mom, what can I do?”

“You can break the bread for the stuffing,” she would say every year.

Every year, she would explain that stale Wonder Bread was good for the stuffing. I would break the bread. She would look over my shoulder to make sure the pieces weren’t too big. “That’s fine,” she would tell me.

Every year.

Every year, I would roll out of bed and the house would smell delicious. Like turkey and holidays and warmth.  I could smell the warmth. I can still smell it today. I’ve never smelled warmth like that anywhere else. I don’t know if it was the turkey, the cooking, the house or just her.

Every year I would make a lame offer to help and every year, I only broke the bread.

Then we’d watch the parade. Or rather I would watch the parade; she would listen to the parade while she single-handedly made Thanksgiving dinner.

I never said, “Why don’t you give me a bigger job? Or another job? Or let me help with the whole meal? Or TEACH ME how to make Thanksgiving dinner so that someday I can do it for it my family?”

Why didn’t I say any of those things?

If I had, I might now know how to cook a turkey. Or make stuffing. Or fill my house with the fantastic smell of welcoming. Or simply create warmth.

Instead, I only know how to break bread.

—————————-

I was really sad when I wrote that. I was full of regret that was bigger than just not asking how to cook a turkey. Did I tell her that I loved her often enough? Did I tell her I loved that she served the cranberry-sauce-from-the-can-with-the-ridges even though she was the only one that liked it? Did I tell her that I appreciated all the manual labor that goes into making mashed potatoes? Did I tell her that I was thankful simply for her?

I was feeling so awful, so I did the only thing a sane person would do in that moment. I opened the box of chocolates that was supposed to be part of my brother-in-law’s Christmas present and ate one two three all of them.

And then, I did the second thing. I reached out to someone I knew would make me feel better.

I emailed my sad, little story to someone I love and got this response:

“I’ve been reading this over and over.  A couple of thoughts – how could a memory like this be sad? How awesome is it to remember a house that smelled like warmth and love? How happy would your Mom be to know this is one of your memories of her?  And finally, don’t think for a minute that creating that kind of family, warmth and wonderful memories has anything to do with cooking.  She taught you everything you had to know.”

I know. Here’s a tissue. I’ll give you a minute.

Take as long as you need.

I’m going to channel my inner-Chandler Bing for a minute and say, “Could there have BEEN a more perfect response?” No. I’m sure that’s why I sent my sad words. Because I just knew I would get something perfect back… something that would make me ugly cry. And then smile for a whole year.

This year, I’m so grateful for that response and the person who sent it. Because if I wake up tomorrow morning and my house doesn’t smell like turkey, I’m going to remember that it doesn’t mean I haven’t created the same kind of home and warmth that my own Mom created. And that somebody believes I can.

This year, I am also so grateful to be surrounded with such an incredible family. I’m so thankful that I still have my Dad. There’s still time to ask him to explain complicated things… like economics. I’m so thankful to have the siblings that I grew up with and the ones I met later in my life… all of whom are my closest friends – and a huge extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins who, while I don’t see them often enough, never feel far away.

This year, I’m grateful for all of my friends – my oldest friends (some of whom I’ve known my whole life), my newest friends (some of whom I feel like I’ve known my whole life), and all of the friends I’ve kept in between (back when we wrote letters instead of status updates).

This year, I am so grateful to have won the Loud One, the Nibbit and Happy Dude in the kid lottery. As the Nibbit would say, “I love you to the moon and to the stars on a rocket and to California and to the smoothie store 137 times.” (Of course I just throw the “INFINITY!” at him and that shuts him up.) It’s impossible to put into words how grateful you are to have healthy and [mostly] happy kids. I won’t try.

I’m grateful for KJ. That guy is so patient and funny and kind and he never says to me, “When are you going to STOP being such a bitch in the morning?” I cannot believe he has never said that.

Lastly, I’m so grateful for the following things that make my life a bit better on a daily basis: the iPad and Amanda (the two best babysitters in the world), Annie’s Macaroni & Cheese and Belle & Evans chicken nuggets; soldiers, doctors and baristas; Matchbox cars and books about trucks; tequila; Matt Lauer; sea salt caramels; all of my kids’ fantastic teachers and lastly, the best next-door neighbors in the whole world.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for this to sound like an Oscar speech, but once you get started, it’s hard to stop, you know? It’s so cliché to say that I have so much to be thankful for, but it’s also so damn true.

Greer Garson gave the longest Oscar speech in history. It was way longer than this post. Be thankful for THAT.

So, I leave you with this:

Tomorrow. Be thankful, of course. Be thankful for the meal, but more so for the people you’re sharing it with. Be aware that you’re literally creating memories for the people sharing your space. Make them good ones. Make them warm.

Remember those that can’t be there with you, but know they are with you in spirit.

And if your Mom is the one that makes Thanksgiving dinner, offer to do more than just break the bread.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

I’m so thankful you read this whole thing.