From 8 to 88 the generations gather. The noise of multiple conversations, laughter, music, and the television blaring the parade and football games, all blur together with the smell of turkey, sweet potatoes, and pie. The dining room table is set with china and flowers for the adults. The kitchen table is set with fun turkeys and colorful placemats for the kids.
The house is filled with the magic of a Norman Rockwell painting.
Well, maybe not quite that perfect--but close.
This year was different. There was the smell of turkey, sweet potatoes, and pie, but the dining room table was a table for two and the kitchen table sat empty.
I stressed about it for several weeks. I love holidays. I love the family, the chaos, the gathering in gratitude. It was hard for me to concede that this year would be different. Then my daughter laid it out in four words.
“It’s just one meal,” she said.
That was about as clear as it gets.
It was just one meal. It wasn’t going to be forever. It wasn’t going to be every holiday.
It was just one meal.
Our family is large, diverse, and live in different areas. This year, some of the grandchildren are in their school’s classroom and some are distance learning from home. This year, some of our children are going to work every day to their office or business, and some have been working from home for months.
When we looked at the web of how family members interact with the public it was frightening. Just in our family we would have mixed eight households, nine children that attend different school situations and/or events, fifteen adults that either go out into the work arena, or do grocery shopping, and take children to school or events. There was a lot of interaction going on that would all be brought to the Thanksgiving table. The risk was high.
When we listened to the medical suggestions, we all agreed that staying in our own homes this year was the right thing to do. And this year, the right thing mattered. We wanted to protect each other. We cared enough about each other to put that first.
It turned out fine. Phone calls were made. Laugher happened over Facetime and Zoom calls. We exchanged photos of brown turkeys and tables of food. We shared in new and different ways the events of our separate holiday. It wasn’t Norman Rockwell, but it was fine.
Did we want to be together this year? YES! We needed hugs. We needed closeness. We needed the unity of our family together. But - it was just one meal. It was just one day. We did the right thing. And when Christmas comes, we will do the next right thing.
We look forward to future holidays. Because we cared enough to stay safe this year, we have hope that next year we will all be sitting around a table for twenty or more. We have hope that we will all be healthy and happy.
It was just one meal, one day – there will be more.
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Pennie’s Life Lesson: “Do the right thing, when the right thing matters.”
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