Thanks

The Cast: Family.

Last week was crazy. But, it got me thinking (which only hurt a little bit). Last week I had the potential for five days off from work. FIVE. Five days. Now, that may sound lazy and selfish to some of you—and you wouldn’t be totally wrong—however, I was beat down and worn out. Between the twelve-year-olds at the middle school and some of my college students not turning in work and panicking for help, I was tired. I needed some time to decompress.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to just sit around for five days and do nothing—I’m not an idiot. I knew work around the house would have to happen. I just needed some time off. Just a little time off. Maybe an evening where I could sit in my chair and unwind my brain. I was stressed to the max. The Tuesday before the Thanksgiving holiday I was barely keeping it together. On Monday I had my last college class for the week, but, assignments were turned in, so, I had homework to grade.

The homework thing, yeah, that was my doing. Because of what I teach, the semester is broken up into four sections and one of them ended right before the Thanksgiving holiday. No big deal, I could grade them sometime during the break. No sweat. Almost all of Wednesday went to grading the homework. All morning and the whole afternoon. It took way longer than I suspected. I was mentally done. Fine. The next day was Thanksgiving. Fine. At least I had made the pie, right? Wrong.

Man! The day was over. I was worn out. I couldn’t bake pies that night. Fine. I could get up early the next morning and make pie first thing. No big deal.

Pie is a big deal at my house. For years I have been making pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. It’s what I do. I own some Joe Bennion (Horseshoe Mountain Pottery) ceramic pie dishes, and every year I look forward to using them to fill with homemade pie crust and pumpkin pie. Mmm-mmm! I’ve been baking the Thanksgiving pumpkin pies for about 30 years. Once I had children that were old enough, they would help also. It’s a tradition. But this year… I really wanted nothing to do with it. So tired. So tired mentally, emotionally, physically…

Not too long ago I applied for a new job (I haven’t heard from them at all). And, it’s kinda stressing me out. I just wanna know if they are interested in my skills or not. Then—as mentioned above—the children at the middle school have just been getting on every nerve lately. Add to that, the stress of life doing its best to crush me (like the trees mentioned a few weeks ago). The fact that I was needed to bake some pie was about to send me over the edge. Fine. I’ll bake some pies tomorrow… Also, that night, my youngest son was to be arriving from Washington state. He was coming home for Thanksgiving! Yippy! However, he didn’t make it home until almost midnight. yippy. I had to stay up or I wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep. Thank you, narcolepsy. Ugh.

Thanksgiving day! It came! Early morning. Pie baking with my youngest. Good times. She made the crust, mixed the goop, put it in the oven, and I supervised. Then, we made some apple pie crescent rolls. Those are crescent rolls filled with apple slices and seasonings (or just apple pie filling). They’re yummy (I enjoy this recipe very much).

After that, regular Thanksgiving dinner preparations had to begin. Expanding and setting the table. Getting whatever dishes that needed cleaning, cleaned. Doing whatever my wife needed me to help with. I also had some towels and sheets that needed to be run through the washing machine. I felt like I never really stopped moving. Oh, and I was in charge of cooking the ham. Ham baked with apricot and pineapple jam (it’s awesome! you should try it. if you want to know more about it, leave a comment and I’ll tell you all about it). Then dinner came.

Dinner was totally worth all of it. All of my children were there.

For a few years, I have been wanting to have my family’s (my wife and my children) Thanksgiving at my home. It’s our time. So, we have. But, this year… This year was different somehow. My wife was there. My oldest daughter with her guy and her son (my grandson!) was there. My oldest son and his new bride were there. My youngest son was there (all the way from Washington). My youngest was there (she’s still in High school and lives at home—so that makes perfect sense). A nephew of mine joined us as well (and his puppy). The table was full of family and food. It was a spectacle that I was beyond grateful for. I loved every second of it. Eventually, the festivities ended and I went to bed. Still worn out. Still tired. But, happy now.

Friday came. The kitchen got cleaned up and the dishwasher ran again (for like the fourth time in two days). We had family coming down for my oldest son’s wedding reception. He and his bride were married a while back, but the reception was the Saturday after Thanksgiving. See, the original plan was to be wed that day as well. Well, they got tired of waiting for no reason and got married but kept the reception for later. Fine.

So now I needed to make preparations for the day and the tomorrow. Normally, I barbecue on Wednesdays. It’s fun. I love it. I make a fantastically juicy bbq chicken breast. And, my hamburgers are pretty good too. Well, because Ender (the Washington kid) might not be home until late, we moved barbeque day until Friday (for him). It turned out that Friday night was his brother’s bachelor party (nobody told him or us). Fine. I was still going to cook because my brother’s ex-wife (she’s a sister to me!) was coming down for the reception and to help one of her kids move. Also, she was bringing with her, her new fiance.

I cooked up some awesome burgers. My sister (former sister-in-law), three of her children, and her fiance all sat around my table with us (my wife, myself, and our daughter) and ate and talked. It was like a second Thanksgiving meal. I loved every second of it. Once again, at the end of the day, I was still worn out. Still tired. But, happier now.

Saturday. The reception.

The reception wasn’t until the afternoon, but, if you’ve ever done anything with a wedding, you know it takes all day. All the little things require time. That time adds up. Quickly. All of Saturday was gone like a flash.

In the morning, members of my wife’s family showed up for the reception. Also, we were hosting a pseudo-Thanksgiving family feast/luncheon. So, I had ‘strangers’ in my kitchen. They didn’t know the garbage disposal didn’t work. They didn’t know that I don’t let my wooden cooking utensils sit in dishwater. I took out two more bags of garbage that morning (six bags in two days). They don’t lock their doors! Seriously. (I’m coming back to this)

A tradition that my family has is ‘The Spread’. The Spread is a layout of candies, crackers, nuts, treats, and things that are out and available until Christmas. The buffet of sweets is grand. We can leave it all out because we have self-control. You don’t just suck it all down because it’s there. You nibble here and there—for a month. It is enjoyed. It is savored. My wife’s siblings were like, “Candy out in the open!” and sections of The Spread were gone in minutes. I love those people, but, I gotta say, “Come on people. Control yourselves.” It was funny, but, all the peanut M&M’s are gone. I need to get more now…

Anyway, as the time approached to head to the luncheon meal, preparations were not yet completed. I was doing fine with all the ‘strangers’ in my kitchen (they didn’t know my kitchen! and if you don’t understand what I’m talking about, well then, I don’t know what to tell you), I just would wait till they left. However, I was told that I needed to go sooner. I was not happy about this. “Why?” asked one of my in-laws. “Because I want to lock up my house.” The look she gave me… You’da thought I had murdered somebody. Yeah, I lock my doors. I want to minimize the opportunity for burglars to break into my home and steal my stuff. That concept is foreign to some of them. Good grief. They said they would lock up (they didn’t).

The reception was a reception. It was busy. There were guests. There was dancing and games. There was fun. I talked with nieces and nephews. I played with my grandson. I enjoyed my family very much. When it was all done, I was even more worn out. Even more tired than before. But, I was, even more, happier now.

Sunday.

My wife and I teach little children in Sunday School. I adore those children. They are sweeter than the day is long. By the end of church, I was just drained. Sleepy. Exhausted. Happy. And, a little recharged. My wife, myself, and our youngest returned home to rest. We watched some television and enjoyed the time together. By the end of the day, I was not as worn out. I was still tired. But, I was even more happy about the whole weekend, and what had taken place, than I ever thought I could have been.

I never got that time of relaxation in front of the PS4 that I was certain I ‘needed’. I never got that personal quiet time that usually recharges me. That didn’t happen. What did happen was that I got to spend the whole five days with the people I love. I spent the whole time with family, loved every minute of it, and will be forever grateful for every second of it.

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