My wife has already been moving around the kitchen for several days now like a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff working out an offensive strike. The pots are her M1 tanks. The pans her artillery. The casserole dishes her front line. Troops are moving out from base camp, otherwise known as our pantry. Special forces are setting up strategic positions inside our fridge. In a couple of days there will be an all-night assault inside our oven.
This is her battlefield, and I am but an observer.
I love this season of the year. There is an unquenchable spirit of enthusiasm and anticipation that even Covid cannot dampen. This virus has ruined most of 2020, but not Thanksgiving. We are constantly being told to cancel our plans. To be cautious. To think twice and twice again about having a family get together.
I’m just going to say it this way. NO! Thanksgiving will happen.
What I mean is this. Thanks will be given this week. Family and grandchildren will arrive and consume our house, along with several of the finest dishes ever prepared this side of pandemic mania. We are not oblivious to caution, but we are resolved to celebrate the things for which we are thankful.
Like family. I know this is the big one that everybody has on their list. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. But there is nothing like family. I have a wife that not only puts up with me, she actually takes care of me. She does a thousand little things which, individually may not seem like much, but collectively make my life rich in ways that money can’t buy. Last night she brought me a glass packed with ice and a Dr. Pepper. I was thirsty and she gave me something to drink. She is a saint in ways that most don’t see.
I think about my kids. These are the same people who made unauthorized crayon drawings on my walls. Who got me up in the middle of the night to clean up after their sick mess. Who argued with me over school work. Who drove the cars that I paid for into trees and the backend of other cars and deer. Good grief, the deer damage.
It seems like they always needed something. They are the ones who startled me out of a dead sleep with a phone call because they needed my help. I drove hours to rescue cars from student parking lots or off the side of the interstate in Atlanta. They needed money. They needed help moving. They needed advice. They needed me. I have never felt more needed in all my life. And once you get over being tired you realize that you wouldn’t have it any other way.
I have two sons-n-law. Well, one won’t officially be my adopted son for a few weeks yet, but he counts. These are the men who asked for and got the hand of my daughters in blissful matrimony. Their own kids have dampened the bliss just a little bit, but they are men whom I believe are good to their vows. My daughters are not perfect. (Love you girls) These new sons of mine have their work cut out for them. But isn’t that what marriage is all about? And I couldn’t be more grateful than to have two new sons that are willing to work at it.
Oh boy, add into the mix the grandchildren. Mine are all just little guys. They have the ability to melt your heart and break your back. There will be wrestling. There will be body shots to lower regions of anatomy that do not need to be discussed. There will be hugs. I suspect there will be a pile of leaves and lots of jumping. Screams will shatter my ear drums. Giggles will force me to use all my facial muscles in a smile. Blankets and pillows will be used for story time. And Grandpa will collapse on the couch in a coma by 9PM.
Add to that a sister-n-law, a special guest whom we are adopting for the day, Max and his noxious gastric bombs, and you get Thanksgiving.
There is just a different feel to the whole event. The kitchen is noisy. Probably a football game on the big screen. The leaf is added to the table to make room for more elbows than normal. A fresh tablecloth. Scented candles make the whole house smell like a holiday.
I even like the mismatch collection of chairs. We use all the matching ones we have that go with the table. But that’s not enough. We squeeze in the old office chair that used to belong to Beth’s Dad. An ancient wooden chair that we picked up somewhere along the way in a yard sale. Maybe a stool that sits too high above the table, but which will do in a pinch.
I used to love eating at the kids table at Thanksgiving. We had a little child’s table that was yellow with stout little wrought iron legs. We had to fix our plate at the big table and then take our seat off to the side. Often in the middle of the kitchen. We ate so quickly that we really didn’t appreciate the meal. There was stuff to do outside.
Thanksgiving is the circle of life in a sort of full panoramic view. The kid at the yellow table is now the old patriarch. The girlfriend who used to sit all shy and quiet at our table is now directing the show like she was born for the role. The kids who used to live here now show up for a spell to embrace family and connect to their roots. The spots once occupied by aging parents are filled with young men who come to find rest for their souls and a 22 lb. Turkey for their plates.
I am saddened for those for whom Thanksgiving will pass in isolation. Separated from family because of sickness, or military service, or job, or fear. It doesn’t seem like much, not near enough, but we will include them in our prayer at our table. Pausing to remember those who cannot celebrate the very thing we all want this Thursday.
When God made man and gave him a family, He have him just enough trouble and hardship and pain to make him appreciate the love the joy and the hope that family brings. Wherever you are this Thanksgiving, may your heart be full, may your have an extra notch in your belt to loosen, and may you get the kitchen clean before midnight.
If the pandemic was a tornado, I guess I’d be the guy saying, “Well, we’ve lost a lot, but as long as we’ve got each other we’ve got everything we need.”