Thanksgiving meals often begin with declarations of gratitude. The meal preparation is complete. But before eating it starts a prayer or some other thanksgiving is offered. It is a good time most of the time. This year was one of the best for me. I found I had more to be thankful for after the meal than before it. It took a few days to put my finger on what worked. I discovered it was not what I did as much as what I did not do. It made the difference.
A New Family
Having a global pandemic was not enough for me. It was not stressful enough. I decided to get married and receive a new family. I am happy with my decision. And I willingly accepted the stress involved. Without going into details, we had more stress than most newlyweds. But we were able to cope. The situation is over. A new family situation takes a great deal of adjustment. Long established connections within families are disrupted. Adult children must get used to the new person in their parent’s life. The easy part is deciding to accept the challenge. The hard part is overcoming the desire to force a premature conciliation.
Adding the pandemic with issues regarding social distancing and recommended travel restrictions makes the holidays more difficult. Any member of the family to gather could become ill at any time. Plans are made. And then plans are changed. It happened to us. I am sure it happened for many.
We adapted to the situation. Where we would gather changed. How the meal was prepared did too. The changes allowed me to express gratitude. I was more confident about I could accomplish as Thanksgiving Day approached. The weather was very fine. I planned to cook the Turkey outdoors, smoke roasting it on my grill. When the three plus hours of cooking ended, I was relieved how well it cooked. The taste of the meat was wonderful. I thanked God for it turning out so well.
My wife and I managed to cook without getting into arguments about it. Each of us are “set in our ways” about some things. Working together means adapting to those set methods and times. It turned out we had too much food because some family members could not come. We ate leftovers for four days.
Following the meal, when everyone left, we realized that it all worked fabulously. My wife asked, “How’s that for a first Thanksgiving?” I don’t think it could have been better. I did not expect it. Because we did not know how anyone would react given all of the stress from the year. I was more thankful after the meal than before it for that reason. The question remained, “why did it work so well? What had I done to make it work out?” The answer is, “nothing.”
Earlier in the day I texted my son that I was cooking the Turkey again this time without booze. “Maybe I won’t burn it,” I said. He assured me I would do fine. When I reflected on the day’s events I realized it was because I did not drink any alcohol. The other stuff I did that day went smoothly because I did not take a drink. It sounds odd. I know. But it is true. I was grateful for an unexpected reason.
The Gratitude Reason
Here is why. I am a Type A personality. That means I have to work hard on letting things go. I feel guilty when I do. But, I try anyway. It is the best way to keep from driving me and everyone around me insane. When I drink, I become more intense. I try to force solutions only to create more problems. Not only do I attempt to force solutions, I want them done immediately. This means I become more intolerant of mistakes. The mistakes I make are as likely to set me off as those made by others. “Why is the pie taking so long to bake?” Why isn’t so and so here by now? Are they always this late?”
Yeah that’s me inebriated. I get frustrated because then nothing works. It is a sad state of affairs. I do not recognize it immediately. Worse yet, I may not remember doing any of it. I am grateful for not giving in to addiction. I don’t claim any credit for not drinking. Do you see how that works? Do you have that relative who ruins every family gathering? Have you attended a wedding that was a shambles because the groom or bride was drunk? How about a funeral where family members used painkillers to cope?
We say, “A happy person is grateful. And a grateful person is happy.” A happy drunk does not drink either. The good thing about Thanksgiving is Christmas is coming. If you ruined this past holiday, there is a chance to make Christmas better. Don’t give in and indulge in your drug of choice including alcohol. Give in to living and pursuing your happiness.