Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Kids' Table

When I think of Thanksgiving, I remember the innocence of the kids' table. 

I remember a mysterious set of arms - sometimes my mother's, sometimes not - would rotate around a tiny table of small children and cut the turkey and ham into digestible pieces. Mashed potatoes and cranberry jello salad were suitable art medium and the pristine, dreaded dress clothes never lasted long. We were farm kids; a stain was bound to happen. Food stains were a badge of pride at the kids' table.

I remember sitting with a small group of semi-strangers - the ones I only saw at major holidays such as Easter and the county fair - and watch them eat like drunk, teething, Jack Russells. I remember thinking how gross they were as I wiped gravy off my chin and deviled egg filling off my sleeve. It was a caloric massacre. Food everywhere. The floor. The table. The walls. Inside the creases of Clark's arms. 

I remember sitting at the tiny table long after the others had left because I had to clean my plate in a way that resembled an apartment with the goal of getting the full deposit back: spotless. I don't remember licking my plate in order to go play, but I've blocked out some parts of my childhood. To this day, I get paranoid that Dear Ol' Dad is watching when I throw my plate away. 

I remember eating and keeping one eye on my plate and one eye on the toy calling my name. Today that "toy" looks more like the couch or even better: The Original Jean's lift chair. 

I wish I hadn't been so eager to move to the adult table. Moving there was the first phase of childhood lost. 

At the adult table the drunk, teething, Jack Russells were traded for adults who knew only how to discuss the milk, beef and pork markets, the never-suitable weather and health insurance. Worst part about the adult table: I couldn't even reach the butter.

Thanksgiving today hasn't changed....too much. 

I still plan to sit at the adult table and discuss beef and pork prices, cuss the weather and discuss health insurance. I'll stand in the food line with 60 others and watch with longing eyes as the tiny tyrants at the kids' table stare at a full plate then proceed to only eat one bite of pork, a roll covered in ketchup and ice cream pie. They don't know how good they've got it. 

These days we eat in shifts, because let's be honest: No one can truly enjoy a meal when you have spit up running down your arm and you're constantly raising a baby over your head to sniff out a diaper check. Thanksgiving in this phase of my life means I only put things on my plate that I can cut with a fork. Spoons and knives don't exist in a new-mom place setting; there aren't enough free hands for either.  

Unless, of course, Momma offers to hold Crazy Train and I can eat with both hands. If thats the case, I'll be relocating to a secluded second-floor closet where I can eat in peace, with two hands, and maybe even use a knife to cut the brisket. I may even have time to get a drink. With ice. If I eat fast enough, I may even have time for a nap. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

Do you know the best thing about the way the 2016 election turned out?

The sun will come out tomorrow.

As I write this, no polling place has been closed, no state has been declared and no race has been called. As I write this, Americans are still feverishly voting.

The best thing about not knowing how the presidential race will end is being forced to remember all the certainties that I can still rely on. Perhaps you can rely on these, too.

I know that there has never been a greater need for our country to instill two things into the next generation: honesty and character. 
OK, three things: A sense of humor.

I know that our kids would have brighter futures if they had to use a landline phone, with a long spiral cord connected to the wall, to contact their friends.

I know I’ll still feel compelled to buy something I don’t need to justify using the coupon burning a hole in my wallet.

I know that God knew the outcome of the election long before any media did and that this has been a part of His plan for a long, long time.

I know that there is no better time to make that phone call to the person you’ve neglected. You've put it off long enough.

I know that I never want my mother to see two things: the inside of my oven or the mop water after I’ve scrubbed my kitchen and bathroom floors. 

I know that now – more than ever – kindness matters.

I know that prayer is bringing your wishes and worries to God, but faith is leaving them there. I also know that faith is tough.

I know that the best way to raise strong kids is to be an example: Be nice to servers, invest in your health (eat beef and greens and move), and with confidence unapologetically represent what you believe. 

I know that as you age you realize that saving money is far more gratifying than spending it.

I know that the hours spent at work will never reciprocate the joy found in the hours spent with the people you love.

I know that there is power in accepting the fact what goes in the dryer may never come out. Get over it.

I know that your opportunity to be a mentor, a better friend or a positive influence has never been greater. Be someone worth knowing.

I know that sometimes a battle won is actually a battle lost. Perspective.

I know that an hour of alone time to think far outweighs two hours of social media scrolling.

I know that confidence is far quieter than insecurities. In fact, the person who must be heard and seen is likely the one who relies on others' validation.  The confident person rests assuredly on their own beliefs, values and goals; they need not accreditation from other sources. 

I know that if you chop your own wood you warm yourself twice.

I hope that you woke this morning with a heart full of optimism as we move forward as a country. Do not be weary. God’s plan for this life far exceeds anything you can imagine right now.

How awesome is that?