Last week was my birthday. Lift the flap on the card from my 5-year-old, and you'll see I had the choice of celebrating turning 27 or 14. I also had the choice of having one wild, spinning, psychedelic eye... but anyway. I don't want to dwell on crappiness, but the culmination of not taking care of myself made me almost miss the festivities because my back and neck had just had it.
Miraculously, (and thanks to an acupuncturist, 2 chiropractors, deep tissue massage, electric stim, and me slowing down, cutting out the junk I'd been eating, and taking a few forced day of rest... trust me spending the day alternating between icing myself with bags of frozen brown rice and peas, not so glamorous/celebratory....) I bounced back.
I was thankful to be feeling more like myself again. I kind of felt like I'd gotten this awesome second chance to re-set. We took the train into NYC to celebrate. We saw a show, ate incredible food, and I reveled in my kids excitement about going to sleep surrounded by giant buildings.
The next morning, I (somewhat gingerly) traipsed through Central Park with them on one of the most gorgeous Fall days one could imagine. I felt lucky, and thankful.
We came back home, and I knew I had to start prioritizing. I had to start finding the time. Morning walks had to start happening again. Yoga 1/week was a necessity, not a luxury. If the breakfast dishes were still sitting there when I came home and I got behind on the laundry, so be it. I made a point of going back to my beloved yoga class-- which had lately been replaced with volunteer meetings, errands, things that "had to get done on the computer", writing assignments, etc. Ahhhhhh. I was back. My teacher had me breathing-- even if only for 1 hour.
In a horrible turn of events, just as I was feeling to thankful to be "back on the mat", the next night, my instructor emailed us the sad news that her husband had passed. The husband she always spoke so glowingly of in class. The husband who was putting up a valiant fight against liver disease. The husband to whom she had given part of her liver. Much as I dislike memorial services, I forced myself to go today. I wanted to show support for my teacher, who cares so much for-- and touches-- each of us. In a standing-room-only crowd, a picture emerged of a man who cared deeply for his wife and children, who had his priorities in order. The Rabbi told of a man who raised children who are confident, kind, and knew how much they are loved. A man who had keen interests, a successful career, deep friendships... but first and foremost was his family.
I left the memorial service, and met up with my own family. We'd made a point this year of joining a local church's Thanksgiving dinner project.
We sat with our boys as they carefully wrote cards,
and joined their friends to fill the boxes with
and snack mix.
It felt good to take a little time out of our busy day to help others. Even if just for 1 hour.
And after a day that was both exhausting and meaningful, then there was still the pumpkin cannelloni project. Each year I think, "I am too busy". But, as a parent, I want to create traditions, and to teach my boys to give back. Plus, cooking is easy for me, and now that this has become a tradition, the kids look forward to giving their teachers this special "thank you" dinner.
So, in a quick hour of cooking, I made the filling and sauce. Then, between bath time and bedtime, they gently filled
a special dinner for their teachers.
That is now done... and so am I. Well, not really. But with the events of the past week, I have decided that I'm doing Thanksgiving a little differently this year. A (sage and hilarious) friend sent me an email earlier this week. In it, she wrote, "A week after Thanksgiving when you look back on the day, what do u think u and your family will remember the most? The relaxing time you spent perhaps watching movie or doing a craft... Or the fact that you are held up in the kitchen making a side dish they will eat three bites of?..."
She's got a point. This year is unique, because unlike past years when we have always had the happy distraction of grandparents, this year it's just the four of us. So, really, Thanksgiving is whatever we make it. No matter what, the food will be good. Heck, a regular Tuesday night dinner is good around here. The difference is simply that I'm not going to stress about creating some elaborate feast. Wednesday morning, my plan is to shop for and spend a little time cooking a meal we'll enjoy together Thursday. There will be no cooking on Thanksgiving, with the exception of roasting a bone-in turkey breast... Instead, we're going to go for a long hike, and do whatever else we decide to do as a family. I have never been so flip about a feast, but there's a first for everything, and this year it feels right to place the emphasis on quality time, as our little family. I hope that each of you has the chance to create the Thanksgiving you want for your family too, and look forward to connecting again after Thanksgiving.