I was utterly and completely humbled by Thanksgiving this year. By the turkey most significantly. It was dry, dry, dry and my ego was hurt, hurt, hurt. Big time on both accounts. The first taste I sampled confirmed a dry-as-the-Sahara-desert taste and texture. I wanted to throw a hissy fit worthy of a three-year old. I kid you not. I attempted to hide my disappointment and my family (my sister, brother-in-law, and kids) may not have recognized the hissy fit for the full blown tantrum it was inside my soul, but I wrestled with that demon from Wednesday mid-afternoon until Thursday morning.
Now, I am not a novice to roasting a turkey. This would be something like my 16th or 18th turkey depending on how you want to count it. So, for me to turn out such a horrid bird was an utter embarrassment. By now you may have gathered I form pretty deep attachments to how things SHOULD be, (see my November 17th post for details) and apparently, the Universe is determined I learn the lesson of letting go; unhooking my ego from any particular outcome. But I was particularly furious I had to learn this lesson on THANKSGIVING, my singularly favorite holiday.
I love everything about and associated with Thanksgiving: I thoroughly enjoy the autumn colors for decorating; I love the way the house smells while the food is cooking; and I adore that this holiday is about abundance in family and food versus gift giving and getting.
I’m pleased our commercialized society mostly slips over Thanksgiving and into Black Friday and Christmas shopping, leaving each of us free to define Thanksgiving the way we see fit. There aren’t discussions about Santa versus Baby Jesus and the need to put Christ in or take Christ out of Christmas. And, admittedly, it is really the last holiday where children haven’t taken over. It isn’t about adorable families all dressed up in matching pajamas, photo-ops of cute children on Santa’s knee, or about the towering stack of toys for the kids.
Thankfully, Thanksgiving as a holiday has been left to the grown-ups. For me, the lusciousness of Thanksgiving is all about serving and enjoying a delicious meal, a beautifully set table (cloth napkins), a bevy of candles glittering amongst a flotilla of wine glasses. I do love raising a glass to my friends and family and tucking into a gourmet meal. It is the ultimate dinner party. (And if you need to park your butt on a sofa to watch a football game, you’ll want to find another house at which to eat your dinner!)
But this year, the turkey threatened to destroy all the goodness for me. We roasted the bird ahead of time on Wednesday – and no, this was not the problem. It was simply a fact of me not paying close enough attention to the directions (I know, real cooks don’t use directions) and not trusting my instincts, both of which, for a seasoned cook is annoying, annoying, annoying! So, because the turkey was done well ahead of time, I had from 4:00 p.m. when the horror was discovered until 4:00 a.m. the next morning to perseverate.
So, when I woke up at four in the morning on Thanksgiving, still in a rage about that damned turkey, I knew I had better do something to turn my mood around. I got out of bed, went to my study, and pulled a book from the shelf, You Are Your Choices: 50 Ways to Live the Good Life, by Alexandra Stoddard. Now, it had been a while since I’d read this book, but I must admit, I like Stoddard’s no nonsense approach to being happy. Each short little chapter offers up a quality insight, and it didn’t take me long to find a few gems.
Here are some things Alexandra Stoddard had to say:
The important truth to remember is how we live, how we feel, and how deeply we breathe in the divine spark, defines who we really are. (AS)
When we choose to live a good life, we will make choices in every area of our existence that will improve our well-being. (AS)
Whenever we become attached to the outcome, an end result, that we have preconceived, we deprive ourselves of experiencing joy. Choose not to be sad about what you don’t have but to be glad with what you have. (AS)
When we accept reality – not fixating on how we wish things to be – we will be less disappointed in ourselves, in others, and in life in general. (AS)
All very fine advice for someone who was raging about a less than perfect turkey, sure this would be the ruin of Thanksgiving. I slowly forced myself out of my funk.
Damn it. I was going to choose the Good Life; my well-being certainly needed improvement.
I realized I could choose to be happy while surviving mortification; or I could be angry and sad while surviving mortification.
I decided I would not, in fact, deprive myself of the joy of being present for my favorite holiday.
I determined I had to accept reality. Gravy, and lots of it, would be the only way to fix this deal. Waiting another 354 days to have another crack at roasting a turkey was going to be a long wait for the happiness train.
So, by 6:30 a.m. when my guy got up to get ready for running the Berbee Derby, I was at least civil….and I must admit, as the day went along, my mood improved and by the end of the day I had a pretty significant list of things/people/places to be thankful for:
- My guy and his infinite patience….it was his suggestion to make lots of gravy.
- My brother-in-law who ironed all the napkins.
- Perfect Berbee Derby running weather (mid 40s, no wind).
- Another PR for myself while running a 10 K (8:22 minute miles).
- A fabulous little after party at B & A’s house complete with cranberry cordials and pumpkin pie.
- Plenty of time to get home and to get the rest of dinner going (and a big pot of gravy)before all the family arrived – Thirteen of us total.
- My sister who mashed the potatoes.
- A significant amount of assistance from the niece and nephew in lighting ALL the candles in the house.
- Sitting down by 2:00 p.m. to a luscious meal, a really good glass of wine, and toasting family and good times.
- For all the clean-up assistance in the kitchen later in the afternoon.
- For full-on whipped cream in my after dinner coffee.
- Pumpkin Pie. Yum.