We had an interesting thanksgiving.
We were planning to go to NYC to spend Thanksgiving with my brother Tal and his 9 month pregnant wife Anita. We deliberated about whether we should go or not, it was a long drive, they have a small apartment, our car was acting funny, I was tired, we have a lot to do around the house. But, we (well I) decided that we should buck up and get our act together and put in the work it would take to have a little family adventure.
So, that’s what we did. And in getting ready I got all excited. Excited to see Tal and Anita (two of my favorite people in the world) to see them, see their new apartment, talk with Anita about her upcoming birth. We were excited to spend the day after Thanksgiving with Jeff’s sister Karen, brother John, and his new wife Clarissa. I got all geared up for the 4 hour drive - we’re listening to the Secret Garden audiobook and it’s getting exciting. I was excited to experience the city with my kids since they’re such different kids since the last time we went. My heart was starting to get giddy about driving into that city that I love, to feel it’s bustling thrill. The forecast was bright and sunny. We had things all packed up and ready to go. The stuffing and rolls were cooked and ready to transport, the Costco pre-cooked turkey was ready to pop in the microwave (I know, a travesty, but this is what you bring when you’re spending Thanksgiving in a tiny apartment with a woman about to give birth). Clothes were set out, bags were packed, oil changed and gas tank filled. We were ready.
And then at 1:23am I woke up to Emmeline barfing. And then again at 3:20.
You can’t drive four hours with a barfing child to a small apartment to visit a woman about to give birth. No can do.
So, suddenly like that, our plans changed. This wouldn’t be such a big deal for lots of people, but for me it was. It takes me a while to adjust my expectations (and I wonder where Hazel get’s that from!). And, as much as I long for stretched out quiet days at home my default setting is doing and going and adventuring and working. In the middle of the night when I registered what this sick child meant for our weekend my mind immediately started churning up new plans. Surely it was only a 12 hour bug and we could still go (irrational 3am thought), or maybe we could go on Friday instead, or maybe we could invite some friends over, or invite ourselves over to a friends house. Maybe we could find a hotel somewhere close on Hotwire.
But I woke up to my senses. We broke the news to Tal and Anita and our kids and we stayed put. Instead of all the hustle and bustle of the city we had a quiet stretched out Thanksgiving day at home. No one came over. We saw no one but each other all day.
It was amazing to have a whole day with nothing on my to do list. We just let the day unfold, we went for a walk/turkey trot around the Fells reservoir. Charlie polished silver, Hazel set a fancy table. We pulled together a three course thanksgiving feast with enough room to put everything on the table at once. I don’t think we’ve ever had a fancy dinner without guests. It utterly delighted my kids.
After dinner we lit a fire, made and ate pumpkin pie and watched a movie together.
The whole day felt like a scene in a movie, you know the kind where the cinematography makes everything appear slow and glowing and soft and crystally.
Everyone was happy. No one rushed. Even little sick Emmeline was pleasant and cuddly.
It was simple. Quiet. A perfectly ordinary day.
But because ordinary days are so rare around here with all I feel compelled to cram into our lives, when they slip in they are extraordinary.
The day was normal and glorious. A pure gift.
I feel like life has been schooling me lately on how to grasp the present. How to celebrate the ordinary. How to see the beauty in each normal day. How to stop trying to fill in things and instead leave space. And this Thanksgiving Day experience really hit it all home.
Thank you dear little sick Emmeline for forcing me to see, once again, the beauty in the ashes.