Since this is the dreaded "turkey day" I'm lying low this morning to gather my strength. I'm looking forward to lunch with Uncle John at the Assisted Living Center-the chef there is really amazing and I don't have to cook.
It's the evening gathering that fills me with dread. My parents, my brother's kids and spouses, all gathered to cram in a years worth of bonding in two hours. I'm never really sure of holidays. If we loved each other THAT much, why don't we just get together next Friday at 3:00?
Holidays also remind me of a poorly staged production. We all work very hard to play the parts we've been given, with no regard to whether or not that has anything to do with reality. For instance I'll be asked about my daughter, I'll report "no news", we'll pause, ponder addiction for a moment, then move on. Because no one really wants to hear how deeply, profoundly sad that situation makes me, and I really don't want to share that at a family celebration. It doesn't fit the script.
I try to be grateful every day. It's a habit of mine to reflect for a moment on the things I enjoy and am grateful for. I do it while I'm doing my stretches before I even get out of bed. But I feel no real desire to parade those gratitude's out for public consumption/critique. What if I'm not grateful enough? What if I'm grateful for something that someone else doesn't have and that makes them feel bad?
I do remember a time as a child when I eagerly anticipated Thanksgiving Day, the gathering, having cousins to play with and the food. Somewhere along about puberty, anticipation became dread. Yet later, as a parent, I participated in the drama and staging.
My heart goes out this morning to friends I know who are in the middle of their own "memories in the making". Struggling to fit the image for the sake of the kids and the relatives. Every false smile seems to put another little dagger in your heart of hearts and reminds us that we are not like the Rockwell painting.
Soon I will arise from my funk, go have a protein shake and some coffee and go about the motions of the day. I WILL enjoy the luncheon, because there is something honest and real about old people-they've lost their desire to have illusions. Maybe when you don't have much time left, you want that time to be authentic.
Honestly, I am most grateful for this morning, with my dogs and the quiet. I'm grateful for the time to be drowsy and warm in my bed where I can listen to what my heart is really saying. I'm grateful for the ability to say it and for this new found lack of anger when I discover that something isn't the way I thought it should be. I can say blue is blue, and that isn't being critical of blue for not being red.
And yes, I'm truly grateful FOR the warm bed and the luxury of being safe enough to think about things such as this rather than how to survive bullets or famine. But, in all honesty, there are other things I have to worry about surviving. Does that make me ungrateful? I don't think so. If I don't acknowledge my own personal land mines, I'll be blown just as sky high as if I stepped on one in Laos.
Where does my heart truly lie today? Somewhere on a beach in Mexico. If I were in Cancun, I'd be in the dining room having an egg and looking out over the ocean. I can see the ocean, taste the salt on my tongue and feel the warm sand in my toes. I know it's there, even if I am not. And, yes, I am grateful that it's there and speaking to me now, thousands of miles away, warm in my bed.
Blue is not red, and here is not there. I will make the best of, and truly experience here, but I will not feel guilty about pausing every now and then to think of there.
Is that why we stuff ourselves with food, food that brings us into the present, or lulls us away into thinking about our tongues and our stomachs and not our lives? Today millions of Americans will bury themselves in turkey and pecan pie, never really tasting it, trying only not to be where they are. I am grateful that I won't be one of them.
Thanks to the lap band, I don't dive into anything without chewing it well, and that leads to savoring, and that leads to satiation. My Thanksgiving wish for all is that we all truly learn to chew our food-and our lives. That we learn to satiate and not obliterate.