It took me three days and eight grocery store trips to shop for Thanksgiving. I made five lists, lost four, and retrieved the last from a hapless garbage toss. I’ve searched the Internet for homemade stuffing recipes dozens of times because I forget which bread I’m supposed to use, switched the turkey cooking method to barbecue to deep fry to roasting to back to deep fry, and made phone call after phone call to my dad, my neighbors, mother-in-law, and friends.
“Is bourbon the same thing as whiskey?” I ask.
“Do I cube the bread before I dry it out for the stuffing?”
“Are waxy Yukon golds better than Idaho for mashed potatoes?”
And in a particularly low moment:
“Do I remove those bags of body parts before I marinate the turkey?”
I’ve got boxes of stuff — electric knives, carafes, extra silverware — scattered around the house. I don’t know where to put the kids. I’m still trying to decide on buffet or sitdown.
It’s been hard for me to quiet my mind, as always, but more so these last few weeks. I can’t quite think straight. Come up with the right words, decide on a game plan, calm down. It feels like my mind is a Japanese movie converted to the English language; the words of the actors aren’t matching the audio and everyone is speed talking. My brain and body aren’t calibrated. One or the other is going too fast.
And now I sit here at 6:42AM on Thanksgiving Day — surveying the thumbprints on the dining room table I’ll have to Windex later, cycling through who is going to sit where, pondering the epic cleanup later tonight — and something intrudes upon my hamster-wheel thought process. Something that woke me up early, pushed me downstairs, and sat me at the table in front of the computer to write before I let the words go.
That’s the something.
That’s the only thing.
If I hold on to “grateful,” it doesn’t matter where anyone sits or if I use Italian bread instead of wheat for the stuffing.
The word isn’t particularly profound, but a few seconds ago my six-year-old daughter came scampering down the stairs whispering “I’m so excited!” and “How big is the turkey again?” and I think “grateful” need not be profound, it just need be.