I love Thanksgiving so much — the pop of cranberries in my mouth, the satisfaction that comes from having forearms built for gravy stirring. (My gravy recipe here.) But it’s also exhausting. Stressful. This is where the sisterhood comes in. I’ve had a few conversations with friends whose words really stuck with me. This morning, before I unload the dishwasher for the umpteenth time, I thought I’d take a moment to share their thoughts.
My walking friend let out this lament:
I remember the days when Thanksgiving meant, ‘Is someone going to put something in my mouth? Is someone going to make me a very special pie?’ I want to be the person waited on, not the person doing the waiting on. I miss those years and I want my mama back.
I have a girlfriend whom I call my “text message therapist.” When things get bad, I text her a cryptic sentence or two and somehow, she responds with exactly the right thing. Here’s her advice on adult children coming home:
The #1 Holiday Rule is that everyone regresses to their lowest state. We’re like electrons in a shell falling to our most comfortable lowest resting place. Grace doesn’t come naturally. I think the kids channel a lot of memories of sibling crap and hence, family resentments when everyone is together. Tension is the more natural familiar state.
Don’t you still feel that a bit with your own family of origin? We’re all frightened kids trying to be grown up. Whatever that is.
This is the icky reality. If you want to have your adult kids around, basically, let them have their way. They can close the door on us.
That doesn’t mean we can’t set boundaries. Best to have a mutually RESPECTFUL code for when we feel boundaries are being crossed.
We all have the same goal for meaningful relationships. Time together really can be counted in too few hours in a year, EVEN counting sleeping hours. We just need reminders to get out of our lowest, most base “orbitals” when families gather.
My friend Gail, who lost her home in the California wildfires last year, just broke ground on the site where her previous home burned. I loved what she wrote about “being brave enough to try again”:
If we want to stay here, this is our best option. We will have a more fireproof, earthquake-proof house than anything else we could buy and renovate. We are reminded again yesterday and today of the peril. We are getting the smoke from the Butte Fire about 100 miles away. School and outdoor activities are cancelled because of the bad air. Yet, here I sit trying to be optimistic, picking out knobs and pulls for my new project.
I have a newly planted winter flower garden. The words winter and flower in the same sentence make me smile. There aren’t many places I could have that. Certainly there could be no more beautiful place to work than in the middle of a vineyard watching the light on the yellow vines this time of year. In the midst of all the stuff we’ve had to claw our way through to navigate this past year and to get to the point of breaking ground, I sometimes find moments of real joy. I’m thinking if they can get our foundation poured before the heavy winter rain comes here, the moments of joy may come more often.
I count you, dear reader, among my circle of friends. If you have a thought to share about Thanksgiving, I’d love to read it below.
Photo by Renn Kuhnen.