Climbing Daddy and I have a tradition of going to a National Park or Monument or something similar for Thanksgiving; Tall Daddy and The Kid go to his family’s Thanksgiving.
We decided we wouldn’t go this year. The parks have never been crowded on Thanksgiving Day, but we’d have to stay somewhere. Camping is always an option, but it’s too cold to camp anywhere driving distance from here (at least, driving distance for a 2- or 3-day trip). Maybe or maybe not for Climbing Daddy; definitely for me.
Also, because the world is out of whack, maybe the parks were more crowded than usual this year. That would be sad irony.
The tradition of going to a park—and hunting for somewhere in these sparsely populated areas to eat Thanksgiving dinner—has done an excellent job of breaking the painful connections of holidays with my family.
As such, I didn’t feel obligated to even celebrate the holiday at all. No inner tension or conflict. Felt great!
But it’s not all about me (what?!), and Tall Daddy was joining us, so we made a menu.
The Kid and I made spaghetti from scratch. We made the dough as a joint effort, and aside from the one or two pieces I demonstrated on, The Kid rolled and cut all of the spaghetti himself! He was proud of his work.
Also in the morning, we made the apple pie from PostSecret. It was easy to make and tasted delicious. I decided to buy a pie crust instead of making one, in light of all the other things we were making from scratch, and that was a good choice.
The Kid went to Tall Daddy’s to spend a few hours in the afternoon (where he chopped veggies for salad) and I made two-hour crockpot bread and sauce for the spaghetti.
Climbing Daddy made some caprese on toothpicks with basil from the garden (tomatoes aren’t ready yet; hoping they ripen before it frosts). He realized The Kid wouldn’t have anything while we ate caprese (The Kid doesn’t like them—whose kid is this?!) and made toothpick snacks from apple, orange, and kiwi instead.
The meal was ample and delicious, and it kept with the tradition of spending a lot of time preparing food for one meal. That wasn’t a goal, but we did create this menu because it’s too time-intensive to have on a typical day.
I joke that I went back to my roots for Thanksgiving this year (my dad’s mom’s side of the family is all Italian), but we always had American Thanksgiving growing up, no matter which grandparents we shared the meal with. I’ve heard stories about Italian Thanksgiving prepared by the generation before, but that baton had been passed on by the time I was around.
We ate all of the salad and caprese, but we have enough of everything else left over for another meal, maybe two.
After dinner, we Zoomed with some friends and played Code Names online. (That link takes you to the game, but there aren’t directions if you don’t already know how to play the game.)
Also in the morning, in the midst of food prep, The Kid and I ran a “turkey trot.” The intention was 5k, but he hasn’t been running much and it wasn’t worth it. We ran just over two miles, and that was plenty.
Thanksgiving this year was not at all what we expected it would be, based on recent years, but we pivoted and had a great day.
Tomorrow (and every day, but for now—tomorrow), I invite you to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a word that has lost meaning because it’s used so much nowadays, but we are not, on the whole, even mediocre at it. Yet.
If you’re enjoying a meal full of your favorite foods tomorrow (or any day), instead of enjoying it by eating more and faster, enjoy it by eating less and slower.
Pay attention to the food while you’re eating it. Most of the time we take a bite, then talk with people at the table and stop noticing the food as it continues to go in.
I’m not saying ignore the people you’re with (which, hopefully, is limited to people in your immediate household this year). Simply: pay attention to the food. Instead of “needing” to gorge because it’s so good!, take time to notice its goodness. Be as aware of the second and third bites as the first.
Consider the possibility of being completely satisfied with the meal without being overfull.
This is completely counter to the culture, where Thanksgiving (and every day, but for now—Thanksgiving) is a celebration of excess. Where we give thanks for what we have and go shopping to have more. Where being overfull and uncomfortable is a badge of honor and being moderate is being a buzzkill.
Maybe the culture has it wrong. Be the change.
P.S. As I’ve preached before: exercise is not punishment for eating. Exercise because it makes you feel good and/or because it’s part of self-care. Eat, in this case, because you enjoy it. (The rest of the time because you want to fuel yourself for maximum energy and health and/or because it’s part of self-care.) They aren’t opposite sides of a scale.
What a fantastic opportunity we have been forced into!
I know that could be interpreted sarcastically; I mean it completely sincerely.
I am a teacher. Sometimes, I am a phenomenal teacher. Sometimes, I am a mediocre teacher.
We all know teachers who have been teaching for a long time, teaching the same thing, plugging along more or less on auto pilot. (As much as auto pilot works in this gig.)
We all know teachers who have completely resisted learning/using technologies.
We all get in routines, have our way of doing things, etc., even if we’re consistently learning and growing.
Now? Now we have the opportunity to re-think ALL OF IT.
I teach band. I’m in band teacher groups on Facebook where I get and share resources and ideas regularly.
Man. There are a lot of people trying to figure out how to do what they’ve always done, just through an internet connection or a face mask.
Missing the opportunity.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s hard. It’s exhausting. It’s time-consuming. And we’re all at square one again. Everyone I’ve talked to feels like a first year teacher.
Being a first year teacher is rough. Really rough.
(I can’t imagine being a first year teacher this year…)
If you’ve been banging your head against the wall trying to make this year like every other year through Zoom and face masks and life-draining expectations, I’m here to tell you—it’s not too late to change the course. Rethink everything. Do something differently. Do everything differently. What do you have to lose?
“But then my kids will be behind!” Behind what? Your expectations for where they “should” be? Your fear of someone else’s judgement of where they “should” be? And by extension, judgement of your competence as a teacher?
There is a global pandemic. Let the expectations go.
Right now, nearly everything is hard for nearly everyone. Stressing yourself out trying to make kids—who have their own laundry list of stresses to deal with—jump through hoops to try to pretend that everything is normal is … well … stressful.
Also, kids have so much less autonomy in choosing how to deal with everything that’s going on, or even knowing what healthy coping mechanisms are available. Do we want to be someone helping or someone hurting? I’m not convinced anyone is neutral now, or ever.
“Band is some kids’ safe place!” Yes it is! It was mine. Does that mean it needs to be as close to what they did last year as possible? You are their safe place. The group is their safe place. Keep the space sacred, but the activities? They can be shaken up.
Take a deep breath, let some of the weight go, and see what you come up with.