On a long and cold morning run the day after Thanksgiving, I conducted a post-mortem of the holiday’s festivities:
Food — excellent, thanks to Mr. Magpie.
Logistics — could be enhanced by designating trusted guests to help with two specific just-before-mealtime tasks: a) a drink-filling (to circulate the room and make sure everyone is set with beverages just before we sit), and b) a plate-filling (to help with transferring items to their serving dishes).
Other — My son refused to wear the $80 sweater I’d purchased him; the magnolia leaf garland I’d ordered in lieu of a centerpiece did not arrive in time; we were not able to get a family photo for our Christmas card; and my children ate forty-five Ritz crackers, a begrudging bite or two of turkey, and absolutely none of the side dishes we’d lovingly prepared, and then went to bed hungry. I also generally forgot the kids would need to be served (I’d set up the children’s table in a different room because our dining room was packed with 12 adults), and this created a bottleneck of sorts. By the time all of the adults had been served, family-style, around the table, my sister and I were scurrying around trying to fill the children’s plates in the other room, and then there was the requisite “I need more milk / I don’t like turkey / can I have pasta?” conversation that waylaid me on my way back to my seat. After dinner, Mr. Magpie pointedly asked, “Did you enjoy your long, leisurely dinner?” as I think I’d sat in my chair for a grand total of ten minutes between errands.
As soon as I found myself lingering in the “other” category, these words materialized:
“Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in”
Forget your perfect offering. In my haste to assess the imperfect presentation of the event, I’d neglected to think about all the light we let in:
My daughter, without any direction or suggestion on our end, lovingly drawing Happy Thanksgiving cards for each attendee, including my brother-in-law’s parents, whom she’d never met before. (You can see a small corner of one in the photo at the top of this post.) Each card included the message: “I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving with me.” The fact that she anticipated her central involvement (“with me!”) in the Thanksgiving experience of twelve adults moves me deeply.
My father reading the same simple and moving prayer he has read every Thanksgiving for decades now. I love his oration: firmly, with intent, as though (maybe, Dad?) he needs to muscle his way through its poignancy to get it out.
The silhouette of my husband and my father-in-law crowding around the turkey fryer in the backyard, tampering with the temperature, assessing doneness. Father and son around fire: bonds primordial.
My children running amok with their cousins, blind with glee — a blur of corduroy and fair isle and little swoopy bangs and shrieking laughter. Core memories in formation.
My mother presenting me with a gift at the doorway: a silver chafing dish from her own collection. Its bestowal felt like an anointing, or a passing-of-the-entertaining-the-family torch. Mother and daughter, warming ourselves around the role of keeping the family together, maintaining its traditions and togethernesses.
So yes, Jen —
Forget your perfect offering.
Let the light in wherever it may this season.
(Including in our sans-family-portrait Christmas cards.)
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+The above thoughts also reminded me: are expectations the enemy?
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+The gal sitting next to me at the nail salon the other day was wearing this J. Crew sweater/jacket situation. She looked SO chic and polished — she’d clearly come straight from work. The woman on the other side of her clearly agreed with my assessment, because she asked where she’d bought it! So cute layered over jeans, too.
+A cute holiday dress for a little who doesn’t like the smocking/ruching/sashes/etc. Pima cotton but still traditional and polished. Obviously perfect for The Nutcracker!
+These personalized gift bags for kids are great for oversized gifts from Santa.
+My mom bought all the men in my family these Faherty quilted pullovers (more colors here) a few years ago and they are heavily worn by most of them. Mr. Magpie has this exact color and it’s so handsome! He wears casually but also as a top layer for golf.
+Another great gift from my mom to all the men in our family from another year: Smathers & Branson belts.
+Love this silk dress — so 90s chic.
+I just added these faux-bois coasters to my collection. They are so handy (wipe clean!) and chic!
+This is so random, but this enormous Stoney Clover pouch is one of my favorite possessions. It is BIG and I find it helpful when traveling with the kids (toss all their haircare, dental care, medicines, etc) in it. Also like for stowing beauty products I’m in the process of testing.
+And these gingham personalized pouch is SO cute. Imagine buying for a new mama for diaper bag organization!
+Adorable faux fur vest for a little love.
+Cute idea: buy a holiday ornament to commemorate a special trip you’ve taken each year. Like this one for a trip to Paris!