I woke up today thrilled to be an adopted daughter to my friend Eve's family on their farm in Columbia County. As much as I love my family, I find the dynamics of other people's families intriguing, especially in a holiday setting like Thanksgiving, no less.
For starters, there was a strange sense of calm when I walked in the kitchen. Ominous. Tea was being sipped while NPR buzzed in the background. The turkey was sitting on the counter, still wrapped. The dining room table hadn't been set the night before. No one was stressed.
This was not the Thanksgiving I grew up with. I was accustomed to a cleaning overhaul comparable to extreme home makeover and pandemonium in the kitchen as we raced to get everything done before guests arrived. There was the year the turkey fell on the floor, the countless squabbles I had with my brother, and the years and years growing up in California where we had no turkey at all (can't complain about a honey baked ham, but it's not the same as traditional turkey).
At Eve's, we were all ready to go, with an ample 6 hours before guests would arrive. There was no mandatory football, but I felt the need to get some exercise. I volunteered to do some mucking in the pen for the miniature horses, and satisfying a romanticised idea of being a farmgirl for part of a morning. A little fresh air was what I wanted, and a full-blown workout was what I got.
Sweaty and covered shin-high in horse poop, I came back to the house to shower. The dining room was ready, laundry was hanging to dry on the line over the porch, the kitchen was full of incredible smells, and everything was ready for the big feast of the year.
We sat for dinner at about 6 and enjoyed two kinds of stuffing with gravy, creamed peas and onions, mixed winter vegetables caramelized with bacon, cranberry sauce, and a beautiful mixed baby green salad. And that was after I had already filled up on cheeses, chips and dip, hummus, and smoked salmon. I still went back for seconds.
This year, being with someone else's family makes me appreciate mine more, for all the different traditions, for the generosity of my friends. It also made me realize we do need to have more than one day being appreciative for what we have and for who surrounds us. As my favorite saying goes, shared from a very dear friend: Gratitude. Every day.