We hear it everywhere we go, on every tv and radio station and of course, on social media. "I'm so stressed out!" This year, I tried to soothe many people, letting them know it isn't that bad. So what if your house isn't decorated perfectly or your turkey is dry? In the grand scheme of things, does it truly matter? A few people replied with "You're right. Thank you." Others, "You just don't know my family!" True. I also know there are some battles you just can't win...no matter how "prepared" you are. So, I acquiesced and went about my merry way to try to help someone else find their inner Zen, relax and take it all in stride.
Meanwhile, I began my Thanksgiving day preparations last weekend. This being our first Thanksgiving as an officially married couple (after 14 years of 'living in sin'), I wanted to put my best wifely foot forward. I even gathered coupons this time. Not out of necessity, but because I have been lacking in my couponing lately and figured this would be the perfect time to get back on track. After 3 hours of online searching, comparing, coupon printing, mapping out every aisle in the big-name grocery store, piling first aid supplies (just in case I had to smack a bitch to get the last pie crust in the county), packed the car with snacks, gloves hats, drinks (for any unforeseen emergency) and slipped on my grocery shopping attire (standard jeans, hoodie and Bear Paw boots), I was ready. I was going to ROCK this year's Thanksgiving shopping bonanza!
Of course, we arrived and I went dutifully down my list, putting all of my coupons (per item) in my handy coupon holder. This entire trip took another three hours and as always, we bought more than was on my list. No surprise there. But it didn't matter. Because I had achieved deals! I had gotten every single thing I would need for the BIG day! Nothing stopped me. Except...there weren't any pumpkin pies or pie crusts left. And at the time, I was too exhausted to really care. I'd just go to the store during the week sometime and grab pumpkin, pre-made pie crusts, etc. Or if necessary, a frozen pie. I was sure there'd be more deals to be had. It was all good.
After another two or three trips to the store ("to pick up EVERYTHING ELSE I'd forgotten"), we were now nearing Wednesday. I'd planned on making the pies and pumpkin cookies Tuesday night. We all know it's easiest to get the baking done first, freeing the oven for the always necessary bird.
Tuesday night, I spent a few hours rummaging through Christmas decorations before realizing I actually had more pressing things to do. Placing all of the ingredients for cookies on the counter, heating the oven and gathering utensils had me in an upbeat mood. However, as I looked around and in every cupboard, on every flat surface, I realized I'd forgotten to buy the damn canned pumpkin! Yes, you heard me. I forgot the damn pumpkin! After a weekend shopping trip, and subsequent trips to the stores, I still managed to neglect to pick up what I had gone there for in the first place.
You know those shows where a woman "snaps"? There's always a string of events that lead up to that point. The pumpkin was just the beginning.
Today, I ran to the stores (again) and post office. This time, I practically cha-cha'd out of the store with my prized canned pumpkin. I remembered to pick up some extra bowls because I never have enough of those for leftovers. (Don't ask me where they go. I have no idea.) And I made it home in time to get the cookies mixed and baked without incident. This would leave plenty of time for making homemade stuffing, laundry, supper and hopefully some more Christmas unpacking.
But, guess what? I had neglected to check my stash of frozen, left-over bread. (I keep it all year for Thanksgiving). Every single package was freezer burned! At this point, around 5 p.m., I haven't eaten, I've had way too many cups of coffee and I'm running out of time. Another trip to the closer store (6 miles instead of 18) and spending $5 for 2 lousy loaves of bread is NOT what I'm "up for". But it needs done or I will be without my great-grandma's homemade stuffing. That simply cannot happen. So, I rush to the store, but ever mindful of the speed limit, because no one was ever thankful for a speeding ticket, and the entire time, my list of to-do's is running through my head. By the time I reach the small grocery, I'm practically shaking with palpitations. Hurriedly I pay for the bread and dash back to my car. Oh, but guess what? Tonight, in twenty-degree-weather, every Amish family in the county is out on the main road. I'm nsuddenly crawling home behind buggy after buggy at ten mph with no room to pass because the other lane on our very hilly, winding road is also occupied by buggy after buggy. There is no where to go.
Of course. So, as I sit in my car, creeping along I see family after family on their way to somewhere. I'm bitching and complaining under my breath and trying my best to mask my disgust of them being in my way. How dare they, right? I was definitely feeling a bit crazed. My to-do list still fueling my desire to fly home and get busy and yet, there was no escape. After five and a half miles of thinking, mumbling, counting to a thousand...I turn onto our road. It suddenly hits me! I have been running around like everyone else I'd tried to soothe. I'd been harping and worrying just like they were. Could it be?
As I pull into our driveway I realized the most important thing of all; I had nothing to really worry about. We aren't traveling. My husband's family lives far away so they aren't visiting. (As for my biological family, well...that's another blogpost.) My husband is safe and sound, my daughter was baking cookies, my ChiChi has been doing better, Dallas is great, Zoey is fine... I have the things I'm supposed to have.
But for a few hours, I forgot. I was caught up in the "way it should be" set by some social standard. I became the one thing I swore I wouldn't be. Stressed. And that isn't how our holidays usually are. This year will not be any different. It's very easy-going at our house. As it should be. Do we miss seeing certain people? Sure. But my husband and daughter visit them when it isn't the holidays, when it isn't expected. And they know where we are if they ever want to visit us. All in all, it works out just fine. Stress-free.
Hopefully, this funny little tidbit from my life finds you laughing. It doesn't matter if your new home isn't decorated, if boxes aren't unpacked, if you buy canned cranberry sauce instead of make the "real" stuff or if you have paper plates over good china. What matters is the people you are surrounded by, the people who truly love you and support you, the people you share your happiness with. As long as you focus on that and on being kind to each other, you'll truly see the many reasons to be thankful.
I wish all of you safe travels and a very Happy Thanksgiving.