Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Turkey TV Dinner

Today is not my day.

Today is one of those days when I walk into what was my awesomely clean kitchen and I see disgusting dirt and food schmutz crusted on the counter from where my dog got up to steal pizza last night and as I wipe it off I think "I hate that shitty little dog." Even though I don't really hate the dog, it is just one of those days where I am so irrationally angry that little stuff like having to wipe crusty dog ick off the counter really fucking pisses me off.

Part of my problem is that once again I am not feeling good, I think it honestly comes in cycles or something. My (totally not based on any kind of science or knowledge) theory is that the baby grows in spurts and when it does it makes me really sick for a few days. Also that entire bowl of Breyer's real strawberry ice cream did not help anything, but it was oh so good for about ten minutes there.

Besides the fact that today I have to let two strangers into my house (the plumber who is going to fix the leaking toilet which is also a treat and then a random stranger that Mr. E's dad invited to stay with us which I can't even get into without seriously freaking out, so just know that I think it's completely obnoxious beyond belief and I find the situation horrifying and also I just feel that I need to say right here that should the man choose to ever do this again while babies/toddlers/infants/children of mine are living in my house we will have to have words and those words will be "No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, NO and HELL NO) which I hate more than anything, really. Ok, besides all that Thanksgiving is coming up and of course it just can't be something that goes easily or smoothly. Not only does it feel like yet another holiday in which I get to be fat in front of my sister in laws, we have to have hotel reservations which are canceled for us even though no one asks us about it and then are made somewhere else less convenient and more expensive and we have to have weeks worth of drama over whether or not to get pedicures together and over who is arriving when and staying for how long and "assignment" spreadsheets are emailed out and it just can't be a calm, normal thing. To just go to someone's house for Thanksgiving. Mr. E's family is throwing me a shower and while I am very grateful for that I just found out that multitudes of people I have never even met have been invited and are coming and I have to say I find that odd. I was really looking forward to seeing some of our friends and aunts and uncles and cousins but I am not really looking forward to awkward idle chit chat with people I don't even know who for some reason are coming to my shower. My mother in law told me that we couldn't play any shower games because I won't let people touch my stomach. I think I was supposed to say "Ok, people can touch my stomach" but instead I just said "Ok, we won't play games" because um, hi, what about having a baby in there means you can touch me all of sudden? Not cool.

It is just one of those days, as I said. Arranging for the plumber to get here was like planinng an international peace convention, since Mr. E left the phone off the hook and so it would ring but would then hang up when I picked it up. I had to call him on my cell phone with terrible reception that is practically useless and then have him email the landlord and then have her call my cell phone and leave me the plumber's number and then I had email Mr. E the plumber's number and then have him call the plumber and then have Mr. E email me back and tell me when the plumber will show up. So by the time I was informed that tonight is the night we win the "have a total stranger who won't tell you exactly when he is showing up" lottery I was in no mood.

The point of all of this story is that usually around June I look forward to the holidays. I think about the red cups at Starbucks (I know, I am a loser) and Christmas trees and family and stuffing and presents and sugar cookies and sparkles and yeah! Thanksgiving seems like a wonderful idea that cannot come soon enough. But as soon as I throw my rotten pumpkin in the trash I start getting crabby and I just get crabbier from there.

So every year I tell myself the story of the turkey tv dinner and I try to feel less bitchy and more grateful. Moments happen for a reason and every year I need to remember that, and for me the story of the turkey tv dinner has become my touchstone - my reminder that someone else always has it worse off than I do. And that no matter what this is a time of year to feel thankful for what I have, even when it cancels my hotel reservations without asking.

Years ago, when we were still living in Ann Arbor, maybe even before Mr. E and I got married, we were in the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving and I was in full Thanksgiving crab mode because I had already spent way too much time with my family and they were annoying the shit out me, as families tend to do. I have the most unrealistic romanticized versions of the holidays and I always decide that it's a good time to hand sew quilts and make candy garlands and bake fourteen kinds of cookies and make my own wrapping paper and brine a turkey and grow my own christmas tree, and it's my own damn fault but the holidays are just a really tough time for me. I get it from my father and his romanticized version of things. He used to sit in the front of the Christmas tree with his glasses off staring at the lights that he had spent every night for a week wrapping around each individual branch of the tree and sometimes he would cry. Does this all make more sense now? Because of how I was raised and probably also Hollywood and maybe you can also blame Laura Ingalls Wilder, I want every moment of the holidays to be glorious snow filled movie street scenes with hot chocolate and lightly falling snowflakes and silver bells and handmade sugar cookies covered with hand dyed organic dusting sugar, and when it ends up being muddy rain and no time to get hot chocolate and stale store bought cookies and a broken car stereo, I take it personally. Consequently my stress level skyrockets before Thanksgiving and that's when family is NOT involved, and then when you throw them into the mix I just lose all sense of decency, really I do.

But there we were in the grocery store and I saw a guy, a bit older than I was at the time, maybe mid thirties, on the day before Thanksgiving, in the freezer aisle, putting a frozen Swanson turkey and stuffing tv dinner in his otherwise empty cart. And I realized in that moment that this man was going to eat his frozen turkey tv dinner by himself on Thanksgiving day, and that his family was gone or far away and he was all alone, and no matter how crabby I was and no matter how annoying my family was, they were mine. I would not be eating a turkey tv dinner alone on Thanksgiving day. I would be surrounded by love and noise and joy and all the irritation in the world was worth that, it was worth it because these people love me and I love them and even when I do not want to be with them, when they sent me into absolute spasms of irritation, I need to be grateful that I have them. Because of them I am not alone. Because of them, I am loved. Because of them I will always have a home, a place that when I have to go there they have to take me in. And because of them I will get on a plane and travel halfway across the country 26 weeks pregnant and I will hold a paper plate of dry left over turkey on my lap and I will smile at strangers and I will remember the turkey tv dinner and maybe, just maybe, I will let this family of mine touch my stomach, once or twice.


WifeMomChocoholic said...

No need to let anyone touch your stomach. It's weird that people want to. I didn't play any games at my shower -- it was classy and elegant. BUT-- you are not fat, for heaven's sake. You are pregnant. I think it's sad when women think they're not supposed to gain weight when having a baby. That baby needs that extra weight!

Anonymous said...

A few years ago when I was expecting my first child, I had my family throw me a shower around Christmas time. It was chaotic and at the time I remember thinking, "why do all of these strange people want to touch me?", "why does a baby shower have to be so complicated?", "why did I ever go home for Christmas?", etc. It wasn't until I was pregnant for a second time when I lost my baby that I decided that I needed to stop being so ungrateful and I needed to be thankful for what I had. I had a support network that wanted to make me happy more than anything in the world(even if they made me nuts most of the time) and more importantly, I was able to have a child. It took me losing a baby to to realize that all of the chaos and belly touching were blessings because in the end, I had a child. I just want to tell you to enjoy these moments because not everyone is as fortunate as you are...
With that said, Happy Holidays and take care of yourself and that baby!

LME said...

That story about the man with his t.v. dinner just about made me cry. There's so much lonliness in the world.

I can totally understand, even though I've never had a baby, not wanting people touching your stomach.

sarah said...

You could have stayed at my house for free and been pampered up the wazoo.

Maybe next time.

Se y'all next week.

sarah said...

Oh, and P.S. about doggy counter surfing: our breeder told us that a sure-fire way to cure that is by putting a few mousetraps on the countertops. One tangle with a mousetrap spells the end of counter surfing. She also recommended using Bitter Apple spray if mousetraps seems too harsh. But man, there's nothing more annoying than having that snuffly sniffly dog nose cruising the length of the counter edge. Or a dog that thinks they can get away with everything.

PastaQueen said...

I just survived a baby shower where we played games and I never touched the hostess's pregnant belly once, so I don't know what your family is talking about. I was grateful for the games because I didn't know anyone there. I could pretend I was absolutely engrossed by my word find puzzle instead of talking to strangers.