I once had a foster child who’s most vivid holiday memory was sitting on the side of the freeway watching fireworks while smoking a joint with her parents. Oh, how sweet…those parent/child bonding moments…
We’re not a family with solid holiday traditions. We don’t have a special platter we use for turkey. We don’t have certain foods we just have to have. There are no candles with silver holders, we don’t sing Christmas carols while grandma plays the piano and we rarely wear matching holiday sweaters.
But at least we’re sharing a bowl of mashed potatoes and eating sweets…not passing the bowl, sucking down the sweet stench of marijuana with our children.
We eat, we drink, we try to remember why we are all here.
And so when this child with no positive memories came to live with us and holidays rolled around, we stepped it up a notch on the traditions and festivities. She wanted fancy…we gave her fancy. She wanted ham…we cooked a ham. She wanted a food fight complete with laughter and joy…we threw carrots at her face. Because when a child’s idea of Thanksgiving is a donated turkey sitting on the counter while the whole family picked it to the bone with their grimy hands, it’s no wonder she yearned for a sit-down feast, complete with mashed potatoes, apple cider, and beet juice in her hair.
For tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday we had intended to head up to my brother’s house, in Wasilla, to spend a few days with his family, as well as my parents who would join us there. After five straight days of cleaning up vomit, both my own and that of three of my children, we decided to stay home. Or rather, my brother said something like, “Show up here, and die.” And though at times this week, while heaving our chili, we’ve wished for death, we decided to stay home and keep our germs to ourselves.
And so, after a rushed trip to the Zone Of All Things Horrific (i.e. the grocery store on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving) we are loaded up on holiday cheer and ready to combat the day.
Tomorrow we will work together as a family to create before us a meal of our favorite foods. With our hands we will roll crust, bake bread, and indulge in far too much whipped cream. And then, unlike most days when we are too rushed to really sit for a while and breathe it all in, we shall relax.
And though that child who loved ham and peeled potatoes in an attempt to create some sense of normalcy in her life is long gone, I will be thankful for those still here, take a moment for those who have moved on, and spread the fancy cloth across the table in her name.