Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More than Squash and Corn

For our family the Fall and Winter take on a life of their own and at a speed diametrically opposed to the pace we live at in the Spring and Summer. Often at this time of year I feel a bit schizophrenic and it’s a good thing that Thanksgiving exists, because I need the opportunity to reflect, and conveniently the Pilgrims built it in for me.

It isn’t so much that we are busy 24/7, it’s just that I am a 4/2 kind of gal. If I believed in reincarnation I would have to say that I was from a culture where life was slow and laid back… maybe Hawaii… because oddly enough there is nowhere on this earth that I would rather be than on a warm sunny beach listening to the pounding of the surf and palm fronds clacking in the breeze. We live in the rain infested world of the Pacific Northwest, so I’ve made MacGyver swear that if there are any indications that my last breath is going to be drawn within twenty four hours he is to get me on a plane headed for somewhere tropical. I am thankful for the fact that he will do this for me!

An odd lead-in to a blog, but there you go, another insight into me. This leads my mind to wander to a very important thank you. Many kind and loving people reached out to me after reading the blog I wrote, “When it’s not your story to tell.” I cannot thank you enough for offering me love, open-mindedness, and strength. For those of you who shared your personal experiences, I thank you for your trust. Every time I send a blog into the universe I am terrified and vulnerable. Wanting to develop my writing skills requires practice and exposure, and to share something that pokes at my most primal emotions was challenging. Nothing but good came from the experience.

Sometimes it is very challenging to figure out segues, and that is when I walk away from the keyboard and stew. Hence the reason it can take a while to write one blog. I’m pacing, racking my brain for segues. This segue’d my thoughts to a wise neighbor. This past winter her granddaughter was born. We had a gift to offer, but due to exceeding the 4/2 rule, there was little time to get the package wrapped. When I admitted this to her in the late spring my wise neighbor told me not to worry about it, that it was only paper and the gift would still be appreciated. Ironically this coincided with a wise fourth grade teacher letting me know that it would be alright for me to return her book without a thank you card. So, I gave an unwrapped gift, and returned a book without a thank you card, and have proceeded likewise the rest of the year. (Remembering last year’s Christmas blog, I am endeavoring to hold this philosophy with me when it comes time to wrap gifts). I am thankful to people for giving me advice that is useful.

Leaping down other paths… (a commonly used segue) On a miserably cold and rainy night in October there came the tapping of knuckles on our front door. Now this is odd because we have a red “Do Not Solicit” sign right next to our doorbell AND we rarely have uninvited guests. I was home alone with the kids, so I carefully opened the door. A very kind looking man of about fifty was standing there in the rain, his truck parked in my driveway. “Hello Mam. Would you like to buy some beef or chicken? One of your neighbors was going to buy it but her purse is in her boyfriend’s truck and he’s gone off with it. I’ll give it to you for a good price.”

I stepped out a big further to take a look at the truck and only saw that it was bright yellow, quite large, and the engine was running. Methinks this is really odd. So I ask him, “What kind of beef, and for how much?” Well the next thing you know I have boxes of vacuum sealed meat displayed on my front porch and I’m squatting over it trying to figure out what’s what and if it is a good price. He has handed me a flyer from the company he represents and it’s all feeling a little more legit. In the end I bought half the beef, none of the chicken and put it in the freezer. I paced back and forth a bit wondering what in the heck I was thinking, still trying to do the math to figure out if I’ve paid even a reasonable amount of money, and wondering why I did such a thing. (I figured it out: I would love (would beg and plead) for you to look up Bill Porter, Door to Door, starring William H. Macy.)

A few hours later my husband came home from a night out with the guys and he sits down beside me to watch a favorite show of ours. As the closing credits begin to roll, I lead in with, “Well, I did something kind of odd tonight.” After saying “What?” a few times, we traipse out to the freezer, unpack the boxed up meat, Mac does the complicated math, and decides that the price was good, the packaging looks professional and we wrap up the whole experience with a “Well, we’ll find out if it’s any good when we eat some.” It’s still in the freezer. I’m thankful that my husband rolled with this random act of meat purchasing and I’ll be a whole lot more thankful when I finally cook some and we’re delighted. I’ll let you know the results.

Around this same time, perhaps the same night, my husband agrees to shave his head if “the guys” agree to donate money to a charity of his choice. He announces this to me as if this is no big deal. I’m looking at his head and before I know it my thoughts blurt out of my mouth, “It’s gonna be big, white, and I love your hair!” We jokingly say that Mac has “God-like hair.” It really is a marvel to behold. Freakishly thick, soft, and an elegant salt and pepper mixture. Well, the guys came through and many dollars later, my husband came home with a bald-ish head. It was big and white fortunately there weren’t any strange lumps and scars. After stroking it several minutes the kids and I decided we could come to terms with it. This somehow implied that I would be okay with him going down to stubble a few more times. Momentarily I’m thankful that we live somewhere rainy and cold, because my husband has decided he likes having a lush full head of hair which helps keep him warm.

Not long after, our little pink fluff ball had a birthday. She is on the cusp of being a teenager in age, but with regards to the subject of shoes, make-up, independence, and just a touch of ‘tude, she exceeds her actual age by a few years. This year’s birthday party theme was “Spa-tastic.”(Her brother much preferred “Spastic.”) With the help of four wonderful girls, we made and used spa products, ate an amazing amount of chocolate fondue, and our daughter was ushered into the next year of her life with a lot of giggles and affection. Someone asked me afterwards how I managed to survive the party. I didn’t even need to reflect on this; my daughter, her friends, and the much beloved Auntie Pammemelis deserve all the credit.

Little Mac has spent the Fall developing his sense of humor and soccer skills. One of the things I love the most about him is he is who he is and he knows who he is. His brain and his heart are massive and the only person he really needs to prove anything to is himself. When he was four he was at a soccer camp, the ball literally rolled over his shoes, the herd of kids were heading straight towards him, and he calmly looked at me and said, “I want to play golf. There’s no running in golf.” He then sauntered after the ball and watched admiringly as a team mate made the goal.  I laughed until I cried.

The very much abbreviated story of Little Mac is that he almost wasn’t. We had a very eventful pregnancy with him and for a brief moment in time scary words like Cerebral Palsy, blindness, and learning disabilities, were being used. Every day I look at him and remember the miracle that he is, because while he may not always run after the ball, he can run.

Moving all the time as a child proved challenging, and I developed what I call “chameleon skills.” The need to fit in superseded the need to be me. I spend quite a bit of time these days learning who I am and helping people rethink me. When I have the chance to observe my kids interacting with other children I am in awe of their acceptance of themselves and each other.  I could write endlessly about why I am thankful for my children, but how does a parent ever express this in a way that gives true understanding and meaning to the reader/listener?  There isn’t a way. I’m thankful that some force far beyond my ability to comprehend or augment whispered relentlessly to me that I have children. That force exceeds all that I’ve ever experienced and I’m eternally and daily grateful.

Upon reflection I must admit that my life has been remarkably fabulous this year. I am among those who have all that I need, most of what I want, and the strength to figure out life's challenges. My Thanksgiving prayer is that all of you who are searching for what you need do not give up, it is a hard job, but who better to do it than you?

Happiest of Thanksgivings! Thanks for reading.