In the kitchen

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013


This Thanksgiving I do feel like I have so much to be thankful for.  Each year, in fact, I find myself more awash with gratitude.  

I love celebrations, occasions, reason to use the nice plates and platters, holiday music, traditions and the opportunity to just be together with family.  This is what I love about the entire Christmas season and, for us, Thanksgiving has always been the kick off to the whole thing.

That being said, this Thanksgiving found me very tired and having to rally a bit for the cheer.  With graduation behind us and boards looming, life around here hasn't yet been freed from the clutches of stress and strain.  I enjoyed everything about being with our families and yet found the work of it all daunting.

I ended the weekend thoroughly exhausted (but thankfully, still thankful) and pondering a few things.
How much is too much? Is being in the kitchen for two full days actually fun for me?  What are the things that actually bring me meaning and fulfillment rather than the things that I have assumed do?

I discovered these things:  I really do love being in the kitchen and that most of all the good fun happens there, but I need to be realistic with myself about what that looks like for more than one day of the holiday weekend.   That it is painful to work for hours on a meal and have kids misbehave at the table.  That if there are more than zero dogs in the kitchen begging while food prep is happening I need to have a glass of wine nearby.   I don't like being so busy that I miss the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.  A lung burning run on Thanksgiving day makes my holiday complete.That I love my family and our families more deeply and with greater appreciation each year.  

I learned that traveling a bunch on a holiday weekend, packing and unpacking and fitting in two family celebrations is exhausting and yet I cannot imagine doing it any other way.

Most importantly I discovered that I need to find space for myself to put my feet up during the holidays and simply enjoy them and that if I can't then I need to reevaluate how I am spending my time.  

All good things to consider as the month of December gets underway. I want to work at having more intention around my, and my family's, holiday experience.

This thanksgiving I am grateful for my family and those that I love like family.

Ella and Maya got Brevan and Makenna on the bracelet making train.  They made bracelets and sold them in their "store" and made a killing.  Ella and Maya decided they would use the money to replenish their supplies (which they were sharing) and Brevan decided they should purchase a building and expand their operation.

If this picture doesn't sum up our children's temperaments, I don't know one that would.

Sunday we went to my sister's house to celebrate with my family.  Some light snowfall meant a very slow and somewhat tense interstate drive to her house that turned an hour and 15 minute trip into 2 hours.  This might have been a wonderful opportunity for some long-awaited adult conversation except that Sandi was studying for her boards for most of the trip.

Smiling faces, big hugs and shared kitchen laughter make it all worth the slow drive.

I hadn't packed the girls snow stuff so they borrowed gear, including this fetching hat Maya wore.
As usual, the Thanksgiving meal was followed with the making of the potpies.

Secret ingredient: cranberry sauce
Two Thanksgivings = 4 Toferky potpies in my freezer.

I simply adore my sister and never get to see her enough.

As the afternoon descended into darkness and I watched the precipitation continue to fall somewhere between rain and snow, I felt an itchy panic to get on the road and get home.  Once we hit the interstate it seemed to be mostly wet but I was nervous about any underlying layer of ice.  Black ice, by definition, is invisible after all.  As we headed north toward home I could feel the cover of the road change and I was amazed at the people flying past us as we traveled about 40 mph.  It just seemed so risky.

Then we came upon stopped traffic which eventually turned to a crawl as we passed the scene of an accident.  For the next few very slow miles we saw 5 more cars off the highway in the ditch.  One had hit a tree.  And still the drivers were flying past us.  I cannot fathom what gets into Mainers during the footloose spring and summer that they forget how to drive on slippery roads (or use their brains to heed obvious warning signs like cars over the embankment).

About a half hour from home, traffic came to a dead standstill and stayed that way for TWO HOURS.  We were locked in between cars and couldn't go anywhere.  We had no idea how long we would be stuck.  I prayed we would move before someone needed the bathroom.  Hopes of being home in time for an early bed for tired kids soon slipped into hopes of just getting home safely.  I went from restless angst to total surrender after about a half hour of utter powerlessness.  Sandi abandoned her study and the girls grew restless with their iPads.  We listened to Christmas music and played and tried to gather news about what was happening on the highway.

Soon the call to pee was made and, with some very festive Hawaiian Christmas songs from a CD friends had given us blared from the stereo, the girls squatted along I95 as we held up coats for privacy.  It was quite a moment.

I felt fortunate that it was only number 1 we had to deal with, that I had snacks (and more importantly Tootsie Pops) in the car, that we had enough gas, and that we were all safe.  I said a prayer for the people who were harmed in the accident.

When the cars began to move it felt like a miracle.  I have never been so happy to see the sign for the remote town of Etna, Maine before.  As we crept back up to our 35 mph travel speed I was so aggravated by the people passing us going 55 in a line of cars following each other way too closely.  I don't understand putting so many people in danger this way.

After 4 hours we finally made it home, grateful and exhausted.

And now the Christmas stuff is halfway out and I am trying to find some uplifting cheer for this month I have always loved.  I think my heart will feel lighter when the boards are done and life can actually move on past the world of anesthesia school.

I mean if the bunny can, than surely so can I.

Our poor bunny who the girls sorely wish was a dog.

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