In life expectations are ever present. We expect certain outcomes in the different situations and activities we participate. We are habitual creatures and are comforted, in large part, by routine. Some of you may balk at that statement and argue your uniqueness and devil-may-care, fly with the wind attitude, but I hazard to guess routine is part of your life in some way. We human beings expect outcomes because we are taught they occur. We try to stack the deck in our favor - learning what we can and going through the correct hoops to achieve the results we are expecting. During the holidays expectations become huge, emotionally charged, and, at times, largely unachievable. This past Thanksgiving holiday weekend my experience fell far short of my expectations. But this is a story of acceptance.
For weeks I'd been gearing up for hosting duties for this Thanksgiving celebration. My in-laws, people whom I truly adore and consider my second set of parents, not intruders who disrupt my life, were the guests at my table. My children and I were excited for our visit, delighted to see Grandma and Grandpa, and eager to share this classic meal with them. I read the children story books about Thanksgiving, they discussed the significance of the day in school ad nauseam, and we planned the day's events at night, every night, for weeks. "Mommy will make a special breakfast," I'd begin. "With pumpkin pancakes?" my son would ask. "Yes, of course!" I'd reply. "Then we'll watch the parade from start to finish while Daddy prepares the bird to roast," I'd continue. We talked about poems to be read at the dinner table, the Indian garb my youngest son made at school and would don during the day, songs we'd sing, and the foods and desserts we'd eat. Then we'd talk about "Black Friday" and how we'd put up our Christmas tree, house decorations, etc. We were expecting a perfect Thanksgiving celebration. Then, reality struck.
On Wednesday evening, after a lovely meal out, I lost all energy and spark (quite unusual for me I can assure you). My husband sent me to bed. I tried a warm bath to soothe and relax me, but it did nothing to make me feel better. By 10:30p I was sick! A nasty stomach bug held firmly to me and would not let me out of it's grasp. After a fitful sleep I awoke Thanksgiving morning feeling so much worse than Wednesday night! I never left my room! Thanksgiving was happening and I wasn't a part of any of it! My older children were seemingly fine, but my one year old daughter, a definite creature of habit, wanted her mommy! My in-laws were wonderful salvaging the day for my family, but by 3:00p my husband caught the bug and we were both down for the count! I tried to rally, but after an hour with the crew I had to go back to bed. My in-laws were left to entertain, feed, and care for the three kids while my husband and I contemplated how we'd get through the aches, chills, and queasy feelings that were wracking our bodies. They carved the turkey and stowed it so we could have Thanksgiving dinner together another night. They fed the kids chicken fingers and enjoyed some paella from the dinner the night before.
The rest of the weekend was a roller coaster ride. I felt better, then I didn't, then I finally did. My husband got back to normal the earliest. My father-in-law was afflicted by Friday morning. My mother-in-law must be immune because she coasted unscathed through the weekend. Our tree never made it up until Saturday night. The garlands we hang were not lighting so several had to be replaced. The Thanksgiving dinner we ate on Saturday night was all heated through in the microwave and was not served on the traditional Thanksgiving plates. But, it was delicious!
No one expects to be sick for the holidays. No one plans to have every strand of lights go out on their garlands after they tested fine before they were hung up but then don't light up once they are hung. But this stuff happens... to everybody at one time or another. The secret is, let it happen. Deal with it. It stinks, yes, but try to stay positive. It is the most valuable lesson to teach yourself and the younger generation. Life does not always happen the way we expect it. You can either let it crush you or you can roll with the punches and make the best of the situation at hand. I'm still not "fully decorated", but it will happen, or it won't. I've yet to organize and clean the basement thus it is chaotic and hard to maneuver down there. We'll get to it, eventually. We were sick for Thanksgiving. We'll try to make Christmas an illness-free event. But, if someone (or everyone) were to fall ill, we'll still have Christmas. Keep your expectations low and in check. I was never very good at that. I was not very flexible. Now after going through Thanksgiving in this way I'm learning first hand that you have two choices when life deals you this kind of hand; you can roll with the punches or you can pout and let life pass you by while you bemoan the fact that what you expected didn't happen. My picture perfect Thanksgiving gave way to a messy, sick, impromptu, abbreviated celebration, but all of the important people were there and I was able to count my blessings; that's what really matters.
Here's hoping your Thanksgiving gave you opportunity to be thankful and grateful for all you have in your life. Mine certainly did.