Usually Bachmanfest begins with wagers of arrival times and a Euchre tournament…the first of several cut-throat Feats of Strength. This year, it began with multi-generational crafts, story time, some cooking, had a steady sprinkling of arriving family and culminated with the entire family (less the ones who are arriving this weekend) sitting around in a circle laughing at pictures of baaaad haircuts of the past, sharing Grandpa stories and reminiscing about Bachman weddings of the past while looking forward to the next wedding this summer. What a perfect day.
Most every Hollywood telling of the holidays includes a quirky (sometimes creepy) uncle, an overbearing mother (mother-in-law), an obnoxious kid and the one person that nobody wants to be around but you have to invite them because they’re family, after all. There’s always the seemingly normal couple (perhaps newlyweds or a dating couple meeting the family for the first time) who assure each other that they’ll get in and out as quickly as possible because we all know that family gatherings are torture and at best can only be tolerated….and for as short of time as possible. Sometimes they’re headed to a “better” gathering afterwards and sometimes they’re simply planning a quick, revolving door visit and then are headed back to their own….far superior…lives.
And my story could be that way too. (because of course, we are the cool ones, right? I don’t know about that…)
I could talk about passive aggression. I could talk about messing up my kids’ routines to satisfy other people. I could talk about the hassle of food issues and how unfair it is to my kid. I could talk about unfair, ever changing game rules. I could talk about driving from one end of the city to the other and back again in a car that may or may not make it to Sunday. I could talk about people we wish we were comfortable around but just aren’t….yet. I could talk about wishing we were getting together at a time/place/situation that wasn’t going to increase the likelihood that MY kid was going to be the obnoxious one screaming and throwing things.
Why wouldn’t I talk about special cookies made so that my Sweet Girl wouldn’t be denied? Why wouldn’t I talk about special aunts and uncles and cousins who make my little girls feel like the most important people in the room? Why wouldn’t I talk about the joy of spending hours preparing a bird so that someone else doesn’t have to (and the satisfaction of having it turn out sooo good! I know it’s not proper to toot my own horn, but seriously, it was good!)? Why wouldn’t I talk about dropping everything to make memories with people we only get to see once a year….or once every several years? Why wouldn’t I talk about teaching my children to look outside themselves and appreciate the gift of family…and what that means?
I choose to tell you about my amazing husband….who is here. Who is right now, holding a fussy baby so I can sit and get my thoughts down. I choose to tell you about my girls who have taken control of the (now clean, I promise) tub in which we transported the turkey yesterday. They took turns “cooking” each other and now, it sounds as though it has become a rowboat. Oh wait, now I hear, “Can someone come cook me? Um, Dad? Can you come cook me? Ok, then I’ll just cook myself!” I choose to look around the room and see seven couples (aka everyone in the room who has ever been married) who have been faithfully married for, all added together, over a hundred years. I choose to smile at five little girls dancing around the room with reckless abandon while Gramma plays “The Spinning Song” (for probably the fifty-third time)
In a few hours, we’re going to don our Sunday, er, Thursday best and head out for dinner (which is confusing the hell out of my little ones…..they had just mastered the idea that dinner was the evening meal). After that, we’ll slosh over to my parents’ house to wallow in our gluttony and spend more time together. Hopefully there won’t be too much laughing right out the gate or someone will bust a seam! Perhaps after a while, the Feats of Strength will begin and Aunt Petunia (names have been changed to protect the innocent) will break out the wine just to get through it. At some point the kids will cry and will be pushed so far past their breaking point they’ll be stooopid tired. There will probably be a scuffle over who has to leave the family funfest to deal with said crying child and it will take us weeks to get back on track (oh and then it will be Christmas), but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
And then we’ll start all over again tomorrow.
At the end of it all, I have more loving family than I know what to do with. I have parents and parents-in-law who love me and my children. They support my decisions (sometimes with bitten lips, I’m sure, but nonetheless) and love my children even more than I do sometimes it seems.
While, because of my faith and my goal of getting my family to Heaven, I would say that Easter and Christmas are the most important holidays of the year, Thanksgiving is probably the one I most enjoy. What could be better than gathering with the people you love and enjoy and just loving and enjoying them?
We’ve had one hell of a year…and it’s not over yet. But it’s in times of trial that your strength is exposed. In all that we’ve gone through this fall, one thing has stuck with me. Ben’s Uncle Tim wrote this to me a few weeks ago:
“This morning Greg and I were talking about abandonment to God will as I drove him to school. How we have to abandon everything, everything. And some people have difficulty accepting this death to one’s own view, desires, objects, etc. They are afraid of losing something, as if God does not have the capacity or desire to bring us joy. Yet, God rarely takes everything, in reality we are most often left with most everything and God carefully prunes where necessary, to help us examine ourselves, to rid us of that which would destroy us, to strengthen us, to lighten our load for some new adventure.”
When I am able to come under the mission (submission) of the Will of God…when I am able to put others ahead of me….when I am able to let go of the “perfect”, “superior”, “better”, “more thought out” whatever plan of how things should go, that’s when I’m able to see the richness of my blessings in their entirety.