In life, some events are so hyped, so idealized, that they never live up the the expectations surrounding them. I have always found this to be especially true when it comes to Thanksgiving Day.
We have all seen the Norman Rockwell painting of the idyllic Thanksgiving family dinner. Martha Stewart has done everything she can to get us to make handmade place cards, to create elaborate cornucopia centerpieces, and to roast a 75 pound turkey to golden perfection.
All that is great, but the truth is, when I look back to the Thanksgiving Days I remember fondly, it is the ones that were complete disasters that I enjoyed the most. It was the one when the turkey ended up on the floor. Or the one when mom and dad got into fight and my mother opened a can of cranberry sauce, stuck a spoon in it, handed it to my father, and said “eat up.” Or the one when my aunt cooked her first turkey and forgot to take the bag of “extra parts” out before she cooked it, making the carving of the turkey more like an autopsy than a holiday ritual (my cousin puked). Those are the ones that we all look back on and smile about. The few that went according to plan are completely forgotten.
Giving thanks is a great idea, but Thanksgiving day is often the holiday where the daughters bring home blue haired boyfriends – and so do the sons. Small family squabbles turn into screaming matches. Wills get changed. Hair gets pulled. Divorces are contemplated. I think it’s all because people are trying so hard to live up to some kind of romanticized version of what they think the perfect family or family event is supposed to be, that they forget the truth.
Sorry Norman, but most families are just a mess. We are human – and humans don’t seem to like perfection very much.
I’m thankful for the failures. They taught me to roll with it. Turkey on the floor?… be thankful nobody saw it, wipe it off and move on. Daughter’s / son’s boyfriend got blue hair?… hug his neck and be thankful he brought a bottle of wine. Overly critical mother-in-law?… remind yourself of the ill-equipped nursing home you will stick her in one day… and be thankful.