The time between Halloween and mid-November is a blur. I moved so fast on auto-pilot from one event to the next. Book reports, soccer games, hockey practice, Cub Scouts, play practices, math meets, guitar lessons, piano lessons, drum lessons, haircuts, shopping for winter jackets, snow pants, boots... I need to slow down. Take a breath. Smell a rose, or at least not another stinky sock.
No time of year is more fitting to reflect and savor life than November, the month dedicated to gratitude. And do I have an attitude of gratitude? Nope. I'm completely focused on myself: my lists, my drama, my kids, my life and all the sh*t I need to accomplish between now and January 1st. I've seen your gratitude lists on Facebook
and overheard friends' conversations about feeling thankful for the people and things in their lives. I have friends with parents in the hospital, friends recovering from knee replacement surgery, friends who have lost loved ones. Where am I? I’m like a whirling dervish with a jet pack, covered in Sharpie and Sticky Notes. And I'm going to get it all done, dammit, just watch me.
Yesterday I walked in the grocery store and I couldn't wait to get the hell out of there. There I was, in the middle of America, probably the safest place on Earth, with a wad of twenties in my pocket, able to buy all the food I wanted. Did I take a moment to be thankful? Did I savor the fact I can provide nourishment for my growing boys? Nope. I swore loudly for choosing a cart with a string-wrapped, uncooperative wheel. Then under my breath, I cursed other shoppers who had the gall to be there and potentially get in my way.
My crooked cart and I cringed at the endless aisles of food. Was I grateful for the abundance of available sustenance? Nope, I was completely annoyed there was so much food. There are folks starving, having to butcher their goats or pets. And I was up in arms about having to choose some foods over others. Decisions about green beans: fresh, organic, canned, frozen, french-style, whole, cut, mixed with wax, with almonds, without almonds, pickled...
The bread aisle put me over the edge: white, wheat, rye, oat, potato, 7-grain, 8-grain, 12 grain, whole grain, whole grain wheat, whole grain white, split top, flat top, carrot top, Hawaiian, Italian, Texas-style, with raisins, without raisins, reduced-fat, added calcium... Clean up in aisle eight, because I'm going to lose my sh*t.
The onset of the holidays makes me anxious. I'm on a schedule, folks. The mother ahead of me with a booger-covered-crying toddler and 75 coupons... Jesus, for the sake of time management, coupons should be confiscated from parents with annoying children. The checker with so many body piercings? Not cool. I wasn't going to let Vampire Girl check my eggs for cracks. And did I feel sorry for the sap dressed as a turkey handing out deli samples? I ran over his foot on the way out. This ain't free range buddy, pedestrians rule.
Only when I disengage from the rat-race of the world, am I truly able to reflect and be thankful for all I have in my life. Two years ago, what I thought to be my white-picket-fence-dream blew up in my face; divorce, custody battle, 20 pounds of comfort food weight gain and a fear of the future that is indescribable. Without the help of family, old friends, new friends, teachers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, and the kindness of strangers, I'd still be hiding in my bathrobe, dreading the future.
I'm also thankful to you, readers, for your encouragement, enthusiasm, clever comments and inspiring personal notes. With such a huge network of support, I know I can face any hairpin turn that comes my way, no matter how many turkeys cross my path.
But let's be clear. Between now and January 1st, when I'm on a self-proclaimed, serious mission, like buying one last roll of scotch tape, or running out last minute for more AA batteries, if you're driving too slowly ahead of me, I'll likely tailgate, beep obnoxiously, and then give you one of those WTF gestures because I need to get through my list. I apologize in advance, I really do. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'd be grateful if you wouldn't flip me the bird if my children are in the car.