My family and I are back from our Thanksgiving travels and we are done. Like turkey dinner done. We came. We saw. We ate. We're done. Or maybe more accurate, they're done and I've still got a lot to do before I face this week. I've switched from anything that buttons to everything that stretches or has elastic. I've popped some Excedrin for my back ache from sleeping in beds that aren't mine. And I'm giving the side eye to the piles of laundry spread out like a warm breakfast in my kitchen. But what I took away from our trip was (1) I am blessed with great family, (2) my fork shoveled in way too many calories and (3) we forgot the cranberry sauce.
Thanksgiving for us involved five days of Toyota Sienna traveling. The first three days to my mom's, then the last two days over to my Mother-In-Law's. Fortunately, they're in the same state. It was a week of packing and unpacking, eating meals that looked a lot a like and catching up over similar conversations. There was a lot of planning, organizing, scheduling, and tons of preparation to make this road trip happen. Once we were there, everything centered around meals. The set up, the layout, the clean-up. The naps, the helping with a small house project, then another meal was on deck. We got so busy doing *the thing*, that we forgot *the real thing.* At both places, my mom's and my mother-in-law's, the cranberry salad and the cranberry side item didn't make it to the table. It was forgotten in the refrigerator, chilling for the main meal. And the fact that it happened twice, struck me as divine. Twice overlooked cranberry sauce made me realize *the thing* we're forgetting. The sweet and tangy stuff on the side. We were so worried about plating up the big meal, that we forgot the detail that makes the big meal special. Each other. Those moments in between.
We all have good intentions but the other big stuff gets in the way. At least for me it does. For instance, there's a friend I need to call (not text) because she's having a tough go of it. Next Saturday, there's small group gathering at church and I'm helping with the meal. I was supposed to deliver my neighbor's birthday gift but it's been sitting on the dining room table for over a week. Then I have the usual business of going back to work, doctor's appointments and managing the kid's school routines. Toss in Christmas decorations, gifts and upcoming get-togethers and you've got yourself a full table. *Stuffing.*
Those busy things keeping us from the moments in between are the whole Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey and dressing of going through life especially this time of year. It's loading on more than we normally have. It's the bigger meal on our plate than weeknight spaghetti. We add on a lot of extras. There is more on our plate than we need but we load it up because: It's the holidays! We're with our family! It's only once a year!
With all of the loading up and piling on, we forget the cranberry sauce. The sweet stuff on the side. Like when my daughter and I sank deep into the floral print sofa and she told me about things she's afraid of. That tender moment beside her, fighting those fears without leaving the warmth of our quilt. Then crushing into a hug so warm and pure; it filled me up more than anything else on the table. Cranberry sauce. My husband seizing the rare opportunity to go for a walk with our 13 year old son because he asked him to go. Good for two reasons. The obvious - exercise, and the less obvious - time together not distracted with technology. The father-son connection that will span a lifetime by slowing down to notice the moment. They might not remember the conversation but my son will remember the crunching sound his shoes made in the gravel and the time his Dad walked with him when he asked. Cranberry sauce. That split second yet very intimate time I hugged my niece and I tried to squeeze out some of her pain and pour it into me. I knew when I released her that I'd see her tears which seem to be in abundance these days. If nothing else, I told her I loved her. Cranberry sauce. I paid more attention when my mom hunched over the sink slicing vegetables. I wondered how many more meals like this one we'll have in her house. I tried to soak up every detail of her busy hands, her perfect laugh, her sweet brown eyes as she, the Matriarch, looked over her family with so much pride and memories. Cranberry sauce. I don't ever want to forget the sweet moment with my brother-in-laws as I was leaving. One brother-in-law says, "Drive Safe" as he leans in my opened van window and gives me a hug while the other places an unopened bottle of wine and Boursin cheese in our cooler. At the very same moment in their own way, they told me they loved me. Cranberry sauce. It's that tangy sweet moment that's gone before you wake up from your turkey stupor and scoot up to the table again. How many moments did I appreciate and how many did I let pass by? I remembered some of the details but how many times did I forget the cranberry sauce?
Seeds to Share:
Proverbs 16:24 - Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones.