Just sitting here at the kitchen table, everything done for the present and the kids dispersed about the house -- one at least has gone back to bed, while another is resisting walking up the street to pick up some pine cones for me from in front of a law office that has a pine tree in its yard, on the grounds that he will look silly doing it. My assertion that there will be no one to see him look silly picking up pine cones, because everyone else is at home already putting pine cones on their tables, has thus far cut no ice with him.
The megaturkey is cooking away in the turkey roaster I broke down and bought the other day, to free up oven space for everything else. Supposedly the roaster's maximum capacity is twenty pounds, but the special 59-cent-a-pound turkeys on sale at the Bi-Lo came only in thirteen- and twenty-seven-pound options, and I chose the latter. It does fit the roaster, more or less, though I had to cover it tightly with foil and then perch the lid on top of that to help keep the heat in. Meanwhile, the cornbread dressing is made and waiting to go back in to reheat; sweet potatoes are bubbling on the stovetop; cranberry-orange relish is made and in jars in the fridge; Brussels sprouts will be up directly for cleaning, marinating, and roasting; pumpkin and cherry pies are done; apple pie has been eaten for breakfast, and two pots of coffee (and counting) have been downed by various addicts.
The college girl is home and luxuriating in the goodness of being home. Our various preparations for her return included the purchase of a new shower curtain, because nothing says, "East or west, your dorm is best," quite like a mildew garden in the bathroom. Of course, I should have thought of this ages ago, on behalf of the children who live here all the time, but then again, it's those same children who never spread the shower curtain all the way out so that it can dry between uses, and so . . . Anyway, I have been meditating a lot this week on this subtle transition by which the idea of enjoying houseguests because they make you clean up begins to apply to your own children.
Now another child, a very consciously and shiningly good child at this moment, is hitching up the dog in his head-collar ("Is that a muzzle? Is that dog vicious?" No, he's just too stupid not to choke himself with his own collar, that's all) to take him pine-cone hunting in front of the law office with the pine tree. Her brother, he of the appearances to keep up, has been ordered to go with her to hold the dog while she picks up the pine cones, though I believe negotiations continue on this front even now. What a person has to go through to get a free centerpiece around here.
Everything but everything has its cost, does it not, which is good I suppose from the standpoint of sacrifice. There's nothing we offer to God that isn't a retread of something He gave us first -- and in all the universe, God alone is the most consistently not offended by the practice of re-giving (I refuse to use gift as a verb), since we can hardly help the secondhandedness of our gifts. But it helps, I think, for us to pay a little something on the way, a little trial, a little pain, a tempest here and there to mar the sunny perfection of the day . . . And as I'm thinking of the many things for which I might give thanks today, my healthy children, my loving husband, my comfortable home, the general happiness of my life, not to mention the food we're all about to shovel in as if each one of us were a third-world country, it occurs to me that until I've learned to give thanks for the other things, too, whether I can discern the thread of their purpose in my life or not, I remain a neophyte at gratitude. Still, paltry as I am, I am grateful.
PS: In a moment of . . . uncharacteristicness . . . I made everyone at the dinner table share with everyone else five things he or she was thankful for.
The responses were suitably theological, I guess. One child said that she was not thankful for Hell, "icky stupid Hell." A family wiseacre, meanwhile, settled for thanking God that he was not like that tax collector.