Thursday, October 31, 2013

Turkey-less Thanksgiving 2013

First things first, I'm pretty stoked to be writing this tonight.  It's my first night off at home from teaching/homework in about 2 weeks; and, it's one of those spur of the moment nights off, so it's all the better.  Even better, I'm giddy to report that we're going to have a turkey-less Thanksgiving this year.  Heck yes, we are!

Thanksgiving has been pretty easy to schedule for the last several years with actual T-Day spent with  my side and then the weekend devoted to in-law hijinks (of which there are plenty).  My side is traditional to a turkey "T" with Thanksgiving prep and delivery, and that's always been lovely.  The in-laws prefer more of a hybrid vegetarian/omnivore approach, which is also lovely (and equally tasty, I do believe).  I do thoroughly enjoy a perfectly roasted turkey with perfectly lumpy mashed potatoes and perfectly gizzard-y gravy (fun word, that).  That's one of those perfect holiday bites to me.  But when you're working your way through multiple days of heavy food like that, it's enough to make even me spurn yet another dessert.  The "problem" with Thanksgiving is that it's all you have for about a week, seemingly, and then you don't get it for an entire year.  (Pumpkin Spice Lattes anyone?)  Granted, it's a delicious problem to have.

But change is in the air this year through a set of unrelated circumstances.  My side isn't getting together on Thanksgiving this year, not at my parents' that is.  We are congregating, and there will be delicious food, but it's going to be about a week and a half early and there won't be a de-feathered fowl in sight.  Check that--there might be chicken somewheres for my dad's benefit.  My parents are marking their 40th anniversary this year, which seems like something that should be celebrated.  And they're not the let's-invite-a-couple-of-hundred-people-to-an-open-house-no-gifts-please-reception-at-the-church style of a couple.  Which is cool.  But what do we do for them?  Obviously, we invite ourselves over to their house and basically get in their hair for the day.  We might even force them into some family pictures.  (We haven't told them this part yet; there might be glares, sighs, and any manner of you've-got-to-be-kidding-me looks.)  Somehow, by default of being the only daughter and about the most on top of this whole "let's get together and at least acknowledge the occasion" with-it-ness, I'm working on finding the food that will be celebratory-fancy yet diet-friendly for those so inclined.  There's only 13 of us when all is said and done, but there are enough kinks in the dietary needs that it's a bit of an issue at times.  Oh, and I'm the only one who doesn't live there.  Thank you internet for being my friend in this matter. 

What this all means is that we're celebrating Thanksgiving as it were on my parents' anniversary and forgoing the return get-together 11 days later.  I guess this is mostly for our benefit as we don't live in the same county as everyone else does, but you know, I would have packed the buggy and made the trip back anyways.  Either way, Thanksgiving is at our place this year.  Just us.  And you  know what we're not having?  Turkey, obviously (the title gave it away, didn't it?).  It's not that I am nervous about fixing a big bird, but does a family of four really need a turkey?  No.  Do I want to be drowning in leftover turkey?  No.  Do I love turkey so much that I want to cook an entire bird?  No.  Does the boy crave turkey on Thanksgiving proper?  No. 

Christmas 2012: just us at our own house.  There was no ham in sight.  No sweet potatoes.  Or pie.  In fact, I wager that there was nothing even remotely resembling a traditional Christmas spread other than rolls and hot chocolate.  There was, however, salmon (delicious) and crepes (double delicious).  Hands down, it was my favorite Christmas that we have ever had.  And this year's Thanksgiving is going to be more of the same.  Salmon for Thanksgiving?  Um, yes.  Let the feast preparationing start.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Routine maintenance

I have a coffee/beverage other than water routine.  I prefer my latte-ish coffee mug first thing in the morning.  Then, I will reach for my Starbucks "renew" mug in the afternoon when the girls are tucked away.  Should either of those be unfortunately languishing in the dirty stuff, then I have a nifty "Believe" mug that functions well as a stand-in.  And if I slip a bit of my apricot and vanilla white tea in there somewhere, then I reach for the sweetly simple white teacup and saucer (snobbish?) that I picked up on a whim once when I was at Goodwill, even though it only holds about 6 oz. and I'm very much a "Venti is the only way to go" kind of drinker.  It's not like it makes the drink taste any different to use a specific mug at a specific time, but different times dictate different mug selection.  Who's with me on this??  (I could write an entire post on pens and my idiosyncrasies there.  Perhaps, one day, when boredom dictates, I will.)

My point in this inanity is this: I'm all 'bout the routine.  And as of late, that's been thrown a bit off track, hence my pronounced silence.  Nearly every day, I have a minute to jump on here and scan what others have written that I follow, but that hasn't translated to having the time to do the writing myself.  Coming into this month, I knew that it would be draining and an exercise in patience and endurance.  I remember those specific times in college, probably about twice a semester, when I would be just bombarded for about 3 or 4 days until I could get a deadline or two out of the way.  And every time, I would always hyperventilate a little at the onset of the extra work piled on top of the normal heavy load.  Yet inevitably it always worked out and everything was completed.  Every time.  Regardless, I distinctly remember that breath-catching moment when you first realize that somehow everybody wants your effort and everything needs to be done virtually at the same time.  Everyone has those moments, so this isn't to say that any of this is new or unique.  Not at all.

Rather, this is to say that I knew this was coming at the end of September, and I knew that it would be a month of this rather than 3 or 4 days straight.  And I wanted to curl up somewhere by myself and sob helplessly.  Oh, I wanted that!  The thing about this month is that it didn't sneak up unexpectedly; oh, no...that would be almost a way out, "Whoa, I didn't know that it was going to be this bad!" kind of thing.  Nope.  I knew it was going to be bad.  A week ago, in the middle of this when I felt like I didn't really have an excess 15 minutes let alone a couple of days, we took the weekend to visit the boy's brother and his wife.  And it was truly a lovely, relaxing weekend.  Blessings are sneaky sometimes.  I'm pretty good at per-determining that I'm going to not enjoy myself when I allow the stresses to take over.  I struggle at enjoying the moment when the rest is overwhelming pressure to be everywhere, do everything, and take care of everyone. 

One thing I took away from the visit to the in-laws was a long conversation after the girls were in bed.  We sat around the kitchen table for something like 4 hours, just talking.  I woke up at 5 am that  morning in order to squeeze in an hour of homework before the day started in earnest.  And as we traveled to Illinois, which is an hour behind us, in essence, I was up since 4 am at the end of a week that saw me in this same scenario several times.  I was tired.  And as we sat there talking that night, I was trying to explain why it was that I was busy, and it came out to some effect like "I have 1 hour from 6 am-8 pm every day between the girls' schedules which I can pretty much ensure that I have some time to do homework.  And I teach 3 nights a week right now.  And I'm leading a "green team" at church, so I lost another night this week to meetings at church.  And I'm just busy.  I just don't have time." 

Yet the most marvelous thing happened once I said it.  What had previously felt soul crushing now felt, what, better?  Manageable?  Something.  It changed in my mind simply to say "Hey, I'm soul tired right now" to someone.  And I didn't have anyone try to help me with it, but they just listened.  It was exactly right.

Today, I'm enjoying the eye of the hurricane as my grading and homework are caught up (it literally happens about twice a semester, so it's something of a banner day) but the next round is coming in tomorrow and Wednesday.  Then Monday.  Then Tuesday again.  And October will limp away, dragging my nearly lifeless body along with it.  Good riddance, you brutal monster. 

Today, I appreciate the reprieve (even though I had to return Dan Brown's Inferno to the library yesterday, mid-read, and am rendered novel-less for the moment until I can snatch a copy of it again).  And I took time to drink some coffee ("renew" mug, of course since it's the afternoon), eat brownies unmolested, and write.  Simple pleasures are beautiful. 

I'm half-way dragging out the ending of this unexpectedly melancholy post because as soon as I hit "publish," I need to go wake up a feisty 4-year old who is very hit-and-miss when woken as far as whether she's amenable to being a member of humanity or whether she would rather just gnash her teeth and scream at me for minutes on end, like a mini gorgon (look it up).  I hope for the former today.  Bring on the Candy Land and afternoon snack time.