Saturday, November 28, 2009

Better Late Than Never Thankful

So we were supposed to go to my mom's house on Wednesday.  My husband and I are both teachers. Tuesday is our last day; we'll leave Wednesday.  But then on Tuesday my husband tells me that he has to work on Wednesday.  We work in different counties, so our academic calendars do not always align, but I wasn't expecting him to work Wednesday.  So I readjust my plans to accommodate him working on Wednesday.  I will need to clean and pack by myself on Wednesday while he is at work, and then we'll be ready to go when he gets home.  No problem.

I am thankful that we are teachers.  I am thankful that we both love teaching, thankful for the teacher's schedule.  I am thankful that we live in NY, a state where teachers make enough money to live, and have enough time to spend holidays with family.  I am thankful for our careers.

So I wake up Wednesday and my shoulder is.....shall we just say all jacked up?  My sister and I have discussed how "all jacked up" covers everything from a stubbed toe to a terrible car accident.  So it's fair to say my shoulder, falling somewhere smack dab between a stubbed toe and utter ruin, is all jacked up.  I suffered a previous injury to this shoulder, and my physical therapist warned me it would be easy to re-injure.  It crept up on me; I noticed it hurt on Sunday, but not badly enough to curtail activity, and then more and more each day until I get up on Wednesday and.....yeah, all jacked up.  I try to do laundry, but I can't carry a toddler and a basket full of dirty clothes to the basement at the same time.  It takes 20 minutes, round trip, to negotiate the stairs: toddler climbing backwards while I guide him with my bad arm, blocking him from falling sideways off the stairs with no rail onto the concrete basement floor below, full laundry basket wedged against my hip and clutched with white knuckles in my opposite hand, and then the same thing all the way back up, that very bad idea in reverse.

I am thankful that our family has health insurance.  I am thankful for the coverage that allowed me physical therapy in the past, and will most likely allow it again in the future.  I am thankful for the knowledge that if I go to the doctor, or even the emergency room, I will be treated with respect, and the best that medical technology has to offer.  I am thankful that I am relatively young, and healthy, and I have choices for how to deal with a failing shoulder.  I am thankful for yoga, an unlikely dialogue between my cerebral self and my lethargic body that sometimes gently suggests what I need to do next, or how to get where I need to go in order to feel good.  I am also thankful that we didn't fall down the stairs.

I call family members to let them know that we will not be able to make it on Wednesday because I am simply not able to get things done at the pace that would be necessary for us to travel that afternoon.  I mostly leave messages because people are too busy cooking and preparing to answer.  Then I get a message from my mom, which I was too busy putting the baby to bed to answer:  I heard you aren't feeling well, honey, and I want you to know that if you can't come down, we will miss you, but it's okay.  Do whatever's best for you.  Of course we'd miss you, but if you're sick, do what you need to do.

I am so thankful for a family that has taught me flexibility.  I am thankful for the freedom to change my mind, or not.  To be sick on a family holiday, to hibernate for winter, if need be.  I am thankful for my mom, who's extended to me the freedom and the courtesy that the next step is whatever I decide, no guilt, no hard feelings.  I am really, really thankful for that.

 So we get up on Thursday, and we notice.....Oh!  I'm due for an oil change.  Overdue, in fact.  We're talking 8,000 miles instead of 3,000.  Whoops!  So my husband has to find an oil change place open on Thanksgiving morning.  Which he does.  And we get the oil change.  And we get on the road.

I am thankful for a car that works!  For a car that has an overdue oil change as the only item on the list of things gone wrong.  I have driven cars for years that are a cross between a rustbucket and a round yellow fruit, and I am sometimes astonished that we ever got where we needed to go for all those years.  I am also thankful for a husband who takes my car in for oil changes after I have inevitably neglected it for longer than recommended.  And finally, I am thankful for all the people who work on Thanksgiving, providing the rest of us unprepared shmucks with last minute saving graces. 

We get to my mom's house a few hours before dinner.  Little Sunnyside Up morphs immediately into Torrents of Tears when we exit the car.  He doesn't see my family more than once every few months, so when we arrive he's whiny and clingy, afraid I'm going to abandon him to these seeming strangers.  After a few mini-sobfests inspired by various people having the audacity to pick him up and offer a friendly welcome, my youngest sister says:  He does not like to be picked up.  If he doesn't know you, get out of his face.  That's how he is.  Just accept him already, and step back, people.  Soon he's breezing through the house like a typhoon.

I am thankful for all my sisters, for their comedy and their wisdom.  For always teaching me new things, even though I am the oldest of the six.  I am thankful for what wonderful aunts they are, for everything they offer my son, even though he may not yet be old enough to recognize it.  I am thankful for borrowed clothes, borrowed ideas, and surrogate storytellers and snugglers for my baby boy.

Shortly before we sit down to eat I fill a high chair tray with all the yummy Thanksgiving treats a toddler could ever dream of: scrumptious sweet potatoes, savory cornbread stuffing, tasty bites of turkey, a succulent cranberry-cherry sauce and heavenly homemade applesauce.

I am thankful for peanut butter and jelly.

He has no interest in any of these delicious, delectable morsels, but he does devour a peanut butter and jelly sandwich like it's.....well, Thanksgiving Dinner.  Which I guess, for him, it is.  And then the rest of us sit down to a delicious feast, fine wine, family and good conversation.  As we sit together, in the gathering dusk, passing dishes and glasses, laughs and wishes, prayers and thanks and some of the best food ever eaten from one end of the table to the other.....

.....I am thankful.  I am thankful.  I am thankful.

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