On Recognizing the Bounty and Being Glad

Thanksgiving dawns bright and early tomorrow – or dark and early if you’re setting your alarm to get that turkey in the oven – and I am ill-prepared for the feast.

Before five kids, I was a different person. I had lists. I had lists of lists. I had lists of lists of lists.

I baked for days. I coordinated the populace. I communicated with alacrity. I was the Thanksgiving (or birthday or Christmas or Easter) drill sergeant, spurring all others on to detailed organization. I knew exactly who was bringing rolls, who was buying the bag of salad, and which grandmother was making sugar cookies.

I knew the exact number of jam jars in my pantry, and I took out stock in fresh whipping cream. I had the ham thawing days in advance; the back-up ham, that is, in case I decided at the last minute that the turkey size was insufficient.

In short, I never, ever wondered, like I do this year, whether we’d have too many sweet potatoes and not enough… well, everything else.

This year is different.

This year, my niece has cancer and my nephew keeps forgetting that breathing is really, really important even though Mr. Epi-pen takes a personal interest in reminding him.

This year, I don’t care about my lists or about the illusion of preparedness. I care, instead, about discovery.

This year, I’m immersed in being a mama to my children…,

… and to soaking up every blissful second they’ll offer me.

This year, I’m without the emotional or spiritual reserves to do more than be grateful.

I find it all strangely freeing, as though the chains of expectation have fallen away.

Tomorrow, a hodgepodge group of friends and family will arrive at my house. My friend Webb will bring his famous brined and smoked turkey. My sister-in-law is making no less than 7 nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, wheat-free desserts, all of which sound delectable, many of which include the all-important word chocolate, and none of which will cause my nephew to do his lack-of-breathing impression. (Yippee!) And, of course, due to my industrious lack of communication, at least 3 people are bringing sweet potatoes.

I haven’t pressed the napkins – or, really, even unearthed them from the dog-mauled plastic laundry basket where they’ve been since the last holiday I hosted. I don’t know whether I have enough tea-light candles for our long table. I don’t know whether we have enough chairs for the crowd. My sourcing of plates, in fact, leaves something to be desired.

But, if I fix none of those problems today, I know exactly what will happen tomorrow. My friends and family will arrive, and we’ll do the work of the day together. Our kids will tear apart the house while we rearrange the furniture, boil the (piles and piles of) sweet potatoes, and press the napkins. We’ll laugh, glasses of wine in hand, and, if the weather clears, we’ll go for a walk, even if our languid pace as we chase toddlers delays our meal.

It’s enough for me today, in the busyness and the bluster that is Thanksgiving Eve, to simply be grateful,

because this season of life is teaching me not to wait for tomorrow to recognize the bounty and be glad.

Happy Thanksgiving, American friends!

And, to the rest of you, I wish you a very, very Happy Thursday.

Beth

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
14 comments
  1. I just love your perspective. It’s so easy to forget to be grateful- I do it less often these days than I used to. And I can still be grateful more – so thanks for the reminder. In Canada our Thanksgiving happens in October, so I’m planning Christmas now as it’s my turn to host. And I’m looking forward to it and I will take it easy. Because as much as a pretty table and perfect food is…well…pretty and perfect, it’s not the most important part. Wishing you and your family well!

    1. Thanks for this kind comment, Kasia!

  2. I may never see tomorrow; there’s no written guarantee.
    And things that happened yesterday belong to history.
    I cannot predict the future, I cannot change the past.
    I have just the present moment, I must treat it as my last.
    I must use this moment wisely for it soon will pass away,
    And be lost to me forever as part of yesterday.
    I must excercize compassion, help the fallen to their feet,
    Be a friend unto the friendless, make an empty life complete.
    The unkind things I do today may never be undone,
    And friendships that I fail to win may nevermore be won.
    I may not have another chance on bended knee to pray,
    And thank God with humble heart for giving me this day

  3. So, so very true! And I completely relate to being a different person before kids. I used to be collected, organized, punctual, and very intelligent. Now I think I just come across as a tardy scatterbrain most of the time, but I hope people see a scatterbrain who loves her kids and takes time to enjoy life with them, even if the laundry often sits around unfolded for a day (or two, or three . . . ) and the floors aren’t normally clean enough to eat off of (even though our youngest makes a habit of filling his tummy with the bits that fall from the table)! Thanks for the encouragement and reminder that reasons for joy and gratitude surround us at all times and in every season of life!

    1. You speak my mind, Sharon! (And you’ve apparently attended the same parenting school ;))

  4. We are indeed grateful every day. And grateful to you for expressing my feelings so well here. Thank you, Beth.

    1. Sending love during this season – we can look for the beauty together.

  5. Beautiful. Give thanks indeed. Happy Thanksgiving to you all! xxxooo

    1. xoxoxo right back at ya, Fiona. You’re a blessing.

  6. Happy Turkey Day, my American friend! I am thankful every single day, so thanks YOU for the well wishes, even if it is just a regular Wednesday here in Canada. It’s not snowing, so I’m grateful!

    1. Thanks, Amber! Next time you get snow, tell it to pack its bags and give us a visit… we’re hoping it won’t be a stranger this year. 😀

  7. Very sweet. I am glad for the reminders to be grateful, because my head is stubbornly NOT in the “be grateful” place right now, because this Thanksgiving week we are working on moving…. but I need to be thankful for the fewer-than-I-can-count-on-one-hand friends that have helped or told us they will help, for the church that serves a community Thanksgiving meal each year, and that we have a place to move to…. (those were hard-won sources of gratitude). So, thanks, friend for the re-focusing.

    1. You’ve been in my heart and head as you make your move!

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