Friday, November 28, 2008

Reflections on Thanksgiving Day

'A beautiful Thanksgiving table is a must.'
That's what one Thanksgiving tablesetting inspiration website proclaimed. But that's not what happened here at my home yesterday. It was the goal but it didn't happen. Nor did several other things happen smoothly. We are all laughing - although I'm not sure I laughed in the middle of the faux pas. A comedy of errors, perhaps. Let me tell you about our day. In my planning it should have been calm, quiet and without incident; however, there were several things different going into the day. Different from any other year. This year there were no men - just the ladies and children. A few days ago I learned that our son-in-law would not be joining us. Then on Monday our son was asked to join a missions team going to Cambodia. He was told that someone on the team had to drop out at the last minute and he was asked to join the group. With about thirty six hours to prepare before they left the country on Wednesday night he called to tell me he would not be here for Thanksgiving dinner with the family. My sweetheart has been elk hunting all week on the opposite corner of our state. He planned to come home on Wednesday to be with the family for Thanksgiving but he called me Tuesday evening to say that he had decided to stay until the rest of his family hunting team headed home on Saturday!

Wednesday morning I woke with the realization that opening our dining room table to add the two leaves is not a one-person job. It requires two people. What to do? By Wednesday evening I decided to try to open it myself so I could set the table. How nice that would have been if it had worked out that way. I was able to open the table about three inches before it balked. Then, little by little, a quarter inch at a time I could open it from one end, run around to the other end, pull and it would open another quarter inch. I knew I would wear myself out if I continued until our very big table was all together and ready to set. So I did a very wise thing. I took a break from that project, worked in the kitchen a bit and then went back to the table dilemna. I was feeling rather proud of myself for the progress I was making. That may have been my problem. Pride! Suddenly, with an opening between the two halves of the table at about twelve inches, the table refused to budge. Not even a bit. It was stuck! No amount of figuring or prompting on my part would convince the table to continue its outward trek. I knew that I had reached the end of what I could do by myself and I wished - oh how I wished my sweetheart would surprise me and walk in the door. Or that my son-in-law would stop by for some reason. But that didn't happen. When my dear little mother arrived yesterday she tried to help me get the stubborn table going again. I sprayed the gears and the track with a lubricant but that didn't help. When that plan didn't succeed my dear mother devised a plan. Plan B! She quickly set the table with three placemats at each end - my daughter and her two children (one granddaughter was out of town) would sit at one end of the table, my daugther-in-law and her two oldest sons would sit at the other end with the baby in the high chair beside her. My dear mother and I would set up two of my wooden TV trays and eat nearby in the living room. The plan for us to all sit around the table and pass the food around suddenly wouldn't work. We decided, given the circumstances, that it would be easier to set up a casual buffet-type serving area on my kitchen counter and let us serve ourselves. Now remember - there was this big gaping hole in the middle of the table. Except for the one leaf that is stored under the table opening. The opening was not big enough to get that leaf out nor to add the second leaf that stood nearby. But the leaf under the opening did provide a place for my dear mother to creatively set up the centerpiece! I was about to add a touch of lace runner through the opening, thinking it would add something, but my dear mother cautioned me that the spray lubicant would ruin my pretty runner. Yes, indeed, it would! So, now new plans were in place. The table was set and the serving arrangements had been changed. Until my daughter arrived and surveyed the situation. She said, 'Mom I think I might be able to help you get this table open.' We explained what had already transpired and that there seemed to be no hope to get the table to budge until her father arrived home on Saturday to find the problem. Suggesting that we try it, she began to 'unset' the table. She pulled on one end and I on the other. One big tug and - Viola! - it worked. The table was opened and leaves added. Now we had to reset the table. That was accomplished. We were back on track and could move on. My daughter-in-law arrived and things began to move quickly in the kitchen. It was soon time for the turkey to come out of the oven. My sweetheart always lifts it out for me because of my back problems. As I leaned over the steaming bird, determined to lift it and carry it to the nearby counter where it would rest until time to cut it, my daughter stopped me and told me not to try to lift it. She moved the turkey to its destination and all of a sudden I realized my sweetheart is the expert 'turkey carver'. A quick survey determined that any of the three of us ladies could carve the bird but it wouldn't be a thing of beauty. As we began to remove the stuffing and inserted the knife into the meat it was evident that while the area tested with my meat thermometer told us the turkey was done to perfection and safety - and while the top of the breast area was definitely completely cooked - the rest of the bird really needed more time in the oven. We decided that there was enough meat to serve and get us started while the big bird went back into the oven for awhile. I drained the juices and made gravy but I must have been distracted in some way because as I poured gravy from the pan into the serving bowl I didn't stop when the bowl was full. I just kept pouring! All over the counter.
A few minutes later I gathered my family in a circle in the kitchen where we joined hands as I gave thanks to God for our family, for the day together (inspite of the problems) and as I prayed for safe-keeping for our three men. The plates were served up and we sat together around the now-put-together table. Thankful. That's what we were. Thankful to be together. As I looked around with joy and pride at each one gathered in my home I couldn't help but realize how truly blessed I have been. Then a hostess-type thought popped into my head - no centerpiece. There's no centerpiece! And we were eating on a plastic tablecloth purchased on sale. A 'cloth' with autumn leaves all over it. In the middle of the crises a decision was made to use this one instead of a real cloth. Suddenly I realized that, while it looked nice in the package, I didn't like it at all. I had envisioned something quite different for my table. Something like. . .

Or simple like this.Now, here I sat at my table - minus the men and the centerpiece - with a plastic tablecloth I suddenly knew I abhored! I think that was when I said, 'Well, it's certainly not a Norman Rockwell moment.'Two things were decided in my mind at that moment. Either my sweetheart would not be allowed to go hunting and extend his stay through Thanksgiving next year. . .or, we would follow my suggestion. In the middle of all the mess I told the girls that I thought next year we should just go out somewhere, sit down and let someone else serve us!Later in the afternoon, after the dishes were done and we ladies were seated in my living room as the children played nearby, I asked my grandchildren to tell me one thing they were thankful for. Mr. R. said he was thankful for good food. Mr. G. said he was thankful for God and for Jesus dying on the cross for us. When asked, Mr. C. said he didn't know - he's the shy one. Miss E. told me she was thankful for her mother. Mr. H. was too little to understand or answer. He just knew that his little tummy was full and that he is loved. A lot. And what was I thankful for? Each of the beautiful children who gathered in my home yesterday. And for the privilege of having my dear little mother in my life. . .and my daughter who is the sweetest lady a mother could hope to also call friend. . .and my precious daughter-in-law who is truly a gift from God to our family. As we reflected and laughed about the craziness of the day my heart was full of gratitude and praise to God because I know that I am blessed. Very blessed. And I give Him thanks. . .with a grateful heart.

(The plastic tablecloth? It has been cleaned thoroughly and added to a box of things headed to the thrift store where, hopefully, someone will think it's beautiful and will grace their table with it sometime!

12 comments:

  1. Oh Adrienne! We all have our moments when things don't happen quite as envisioned don't we? lol. But I know your family must have been so happy to be together and sharing a warm meal and a warm home. Some day you will look back and laugh at some of these little things:>)

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  2. Oh Adrienne I couldn't help but laugh. The best laid plans..... but I bet when you look back in years to come you will all get a good giggle over that day. blessings, marlene

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  3. Adriene

    What abeatiful post--you always see the silver lining, girlfriend!

    PS--and yes, next time out you go and get served!

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  4. Real life takes us by surprise and upsets the egg basket, doesn't it? Thank you for sharing this candid view of your Thanksgiving, Adrienne. And thank you for the giggle. hehe.

    Oh..did you take the turkey back out of the oven? Best check ...

    :o)

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  5. Oh your poor thing. . . it was one thing after another.

    But in the end, all were fed, happy and thankful to be together.

    Blessings,

    Sher

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  6. OOO, my, Adrienne, it is times such as this that get implanted deeply in our memory. It will always be THE Thanksgiving you remember the longest...you all came together, and ended up sitting together, enjoying your delicious food and each other. Think of all the lonely souls that had no one beside them.....no wonder you are so grateful...so am I, dear friend.
    love, bj

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  7. What a beautiful post! Hope you had the most blessed Thanksgiving!! thank you so much for your sweet words!

    blessings,
    kari & kijsa

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  8. And years from now when everyone is reminscing about Thanksgivings past, no one will remember the tablecloth or the lack of centerpiece or whether the turkey was done . . . you'll be remembering the wonderful time four generations of wonderful ladies (and a couple little gentlemen) had together - a day that could never be planned and one that can never be replicated.

    Blessings and hugs!
    Liz

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  9. Adrienne, bless your heart, you just missed your sweet husband. I'm glad you all enjoyed being together and had a Happy Thanksgiving.

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  10. Adrienne, this story is wonderful. I believe it should be made into a television show. I laughed and smiled - and had tears in my eyes.

    I am so happy that your life is filled with bountiful blessings.

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  11. Hi Adrienne!
    Sounds like some of the Thanksgivings we've had in the past. And yes--my girls and I now look back and laugh over those bittersweet occasions. There was one time when the turkey only cooked on one side and we didn't realize it until the bird was ready to serve--anyway, we thought it was!
    Thank you for sharing your imperfect, but still lovely and full of God's Grace and loving care--Thanksgiving!
    Blessings to You!
    Claudia O.

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  12. I second what Beverly said: I laughed and smiled - and had tears in my eyes.

    It truly is the unusual things that happen that we can look back on as a fond memory and say, "Remember that Thanksgiving when...." Love it!

    Warmest bear hugs, Aleta

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