Friday, November 28, 2008

Old Habits Die Hard

Have you ever thought about what creatures of habit we humans are?
Everyday our morning routine is the same.
It works to give the kids consistency.
They know exactly what is expected of them and they don't have to question it everyday.
They just know what comes next.
When, for some reason or another, our routine is thrown off I can feel the difference.
The kids fight more, Dubs is super grumpy and the whole day just seems off balance.
The holidays are no exception.
Every year for Thanksgiving it is just known that Laura brings the best stuffing in the world. Sharla and Mr Bird have to tell tooty jokes and laugh just like they were kids again. Mike brings the yummiest home made pumpkin pie, I have to do the green beans, Lisa has to bring the banana creme pie with home made whipped creme that she over whips and almost turns into butter and the turkey has to be huge and dry.
We all have to eat it with big smiles on our faces pretending it is the best turkey ever.
And it really is because we are all surrounded by our favorite people in the world, no matter if it nearly chokes us with every bite.
We are not thinking about the turkey.
We are too busy laughing and talking and keeping little fingers out of the candy dish.
So what happens if this routine is thrown off?
What happens if half of your most favorite people in the world are not there?
No stuffing, no jokes, no bone dry turkey.
OK, there was stuffing, but it was not Laura's stuffing.
I'm sure the stuffing was good, great even, but I would not know. I could not even take one bite of it.
Every time I saw the big bowl of seasoned brown goodness it seemed to mock me. It seemed to say, "Sorry, Laura is not here this year, I will have to do."
So I did what any rational person would do.
I avoided all stuffing all together.
What was I supposed to do when the usually dry turkey turned out to be succulent and moist?
Again, I did what any rational person would do. I took one decadent bite and tried really hard to swallow my tears because I knew my dear sweet mother in law will never be back with her dried out turkey, ever again.
I cried a little (OK, a lot) and thought of how if I'd have only known last year would have been her last Thanksgiving with us I'd have never left her side for a moment. How I would have remembered to bring the camera so I could take a million pictures of her to look at for the rest of the Thanksgivings I have left. How I'd have gathered my kids around her and we would have just all sat together in a little clump loving each other and smelling her. How I would have memorized what she was wearing and what she smelled like and what we talked about that day.
I'd rather eat a million of her dried out turkeys than live my whole life with deliciously basted birds without her to talk to and joke with.
I took some comfort in knowing that Laura and her stuffing and Sharla and her jokes would be back next year.
But spending Thanksgiving without my angel mother in law, who was more like a real mother to me than my own mother has ever been, left me off balance.
I have been trying really hard to thank Heavenly Father for the time I got to share with her and to not be bitter about Him taking her so soon.
She was His, after all.
I truly am grateful for the relationship we had, how many people can say they love their mother-in-law more than their own mother?
I am thankful for the life lessons she taught me.
I am thankful for what she taught me about being a good mom and wife.
In some ways I feel like that was not really Thanksgiving, no, not really.
Sure, it was a nice party, but surly, the real Thanksgiving will be back someday.
Then again, maybe it won't.
Then what?
How long does it take to make new holiday habits?
Part of me thinks it's going to be really hard to get used to moist turkey.

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