Winter 2012 -- Enjoying the Anticipation
Two years ago, my husband's 99-year-old grandmother came to live with us. We soon found out that she loved to host family parties, and the minute one celebration was over, she was eager to start planning the next one. Every party we had was more fun because of the joy she took in planning, preparing, and cleaning up afterwards.
The best holiday of all was Thanksgiving. After our Labor Day gathering was over, she wanted to know when everyone would be coming again. When she heard it was Thanksgiving, she wanted to start planning, right then and there. Normally, we don't deviate much with what we have and do for Thanksgiving, so I wouldn't have started thinking about it for months. However, if Grandma Alice thought it was fun, then I would start planning Thanksgiving with her nearly 3 months in advance. And we did. She went over the menu at least once a week with me, discussing the traditional things and suggesting new ones. She scrutinized the recipes, helped create the grocery list, and planned the decorations.
When the time came for the huge grocery shopping trip that Thanksgiving always entails, Grandma Alice wanted to be part of it. Although going to the market was one of her favorite activities, I usually included her when I only had to pick up a few things, as she was in a wheelchair and it was easy to have a basket in her lap for those items. But she was so excited about Thanksgiving that I decided I could somehow manage to push her wheelchair and the grocery cart. I'm still wondering how I managed, but from scouring the produce department to helping pay for the groceries, she loved every minute of it. By the time we returned home four hours later, she was exhausted, but too delighted to even take her nap. Instead, she wanted to chop cranberries, celery, and nuts. She wanted to make bows for decorations and fold the napkins. She enjoyed every moment of creating what turned out to be the most memorable Thanksgiving my family has ever had.
Grandma Alice passed away last summer, but having experienced last Thanksgiving with her, I realize that not only was I more engaged in the planning and preparation than in years before, but so was the rest of my family. I'm grateful for the wonderful gift of coming together and celebrating that she gave to us.
Not only do I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, I wish you opportunities to be thankful for the experience of any joy, enthusiasm, and anticipation in the planning and preparation — and maybe even in the clean up! Sort of like having little thanksgivings within Thanksgiving.