Let other blogs and websites that we all know and love provide examples for how to be a Domestic Goddess even with a big brood of children, but this blog will have to be an example of how to simplify further than you ever wanted to and how it's all okay anyway.
While I was seeing folks post on Facebook their turkey cinnamon roll creations planned for Thanksgiving morning . . .
. . . I was inspired to go all out (one serves a special breakfast before cooking all day long?) and buy from Pillsbury!
I thought it was pretty cool that I had that going when the crew finally woke up, and didn't have an answer when my husband asked, "Soooo, what else are you making for breakfast?" And then, on cue, the baby woke up screaming again 15 minutes into his first morning nap and I had to run off, leaving Chris to make something additional for breakfast.
Then began The Great Preparation for the meal . . . which involved Chris loading up all five children to pick up a full meal at Boston Market.
Seriously, I cannot tell you the tense feelings (and probably fights, but I can't remember) when Chris initially suggested buying any portion of the Thanksgiving meal earlier in our marriage. Sacrilege! Heresy! Ruination and bad example of homemaking to our children!
But enough Thanksgivings have passed in which I've struggled, failed, and been tense and barky because I'm doing it all by myself, no other adult relatives around to help, but with many little hands to make it more difficult, and then really, I'm no great shakes of a cook.
It got easier to buy a meal the couple of years I had babies due in November and December, because I was so big with pregnancy. This year, when Chris suggested simply buying the whole thing, I didn't even argue.
It was so much better for this season in our lives.
Once home, the children had a glorious morning playing by themselves in the leaf piles. I was about to call them in for lunch when I caught rumor from a short person that Daddy had lit a bonfire in the back yard at that very moment.
I improvised by making a tray of PBJs and Dorito chips (ooooooo), which I delivered out of doors.
Tra-di-tion . . . tradition! Like Tevye, I try to have family traditions, but I've had to make easier ones as the years ago by because I don't have the time or hands to do the complex ones.
Gratitude Basket Preparation: I grabbed a basket (a bowl or Tupperware would do fine) and cut up some construction paper, placing the "scene" on the Thanksgiving table. I announced, repeatedly, as a kid would whiz by, that we were all to write down some things for which we were grateful and fold the slips of paper, place them in the basket, and they would be read at the dinner table. (Double-win: more calm conversation, less weird body noises and TV talk.)
Later, we had a little contretemps when the adults had to start reheating the Boston Market meal--still a tightly coordinated 2.5-hour process involving two ovens, stove top, slow cooker, toaster oven, and microwave oven!--and the children revolted, just wanting to watch television. I neither confirm nor deny that some too-old-for-this children threw fits about having to do any work on Thanksgiving.
A quiet-voiced instruction followed about how Thanksgiving is actually a huge day of work and this Mama cannot possibly do it by herself, nor could this Mama and Daddy do it alone, and that we all must pitch in as a family. It was decided by the children that they would rather there be no television turned on at all to occupy the youngest un-helpful set because that would be too much torment for the older set to be missing out on.
Fine, a deal was agreed upon.
Mama was feeling rather grumpy about this sour set of attitudes, when she noticed--in the absence of the boob tube--that all the children had gathered spontaneously around the Gratitude Basket and were writing feverishly, and with older children helping the younger ones who couldn't write. (Someone even put a pen in the three-month-old's hand while the other sibling suspended the baby in the air and moved his body so that he 'wrote' on a paper!)
They also spontaneously made loving cards for each other to put at each other's places.
The rest of the afternoon, the children actually did pitch in like their usual generous selves, decorating the table, cleaning up, holding the baby, and so forth.
|Photo with Daddy|
- "Having the best mother/teacher in the world!"
- "Having the best father/guardian in the world!"
- "Playing piano"
- "Being with [our piano teacher]"
- "Legos, fishing, siblings"
- "Milk" (written on behalf of David, three months old)
- "Having a bouncy, trouncy, full-of-fun-and-milk-and-laughter, gurgle, snort Lauer (which means David)"
- "I am thankful for playing in the back yard and for having a humongous leaf pile"
- "For praying the rosary"
|Photo with Mama|
I pitched in during clean-up, but Chris carried the bulk of the load. Normally David goes to sleep for the night around 6:00 and sleeps in solid two-hour chunks, but on Wednesday he woke nine times in two hours before I gave up and just crawled in bed with him. On Thanksgiving night, I'd race downstairs during his 15 minutes of sleeping to help clean the kitchen or eat a few bites of pie, and then I'd respond to his screaming call again, so really Chris ended up doing most of the three loads of dishes, two laundry loads, sweeping, and general pick-up. I don't know how I'd do life without him.
Thankfully, I can sit and write this blog post in peace . . . because said Stinker Baby decided that instead of his normal sleeping until 6:30 or so, that 4:30 a.m. was the right time to get up for the day. (WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH HIM THIS WEEK?)
We have so much to be thankful for this year!