Thanksiving Pleasures… and Chaos

We celebrated Thanksgiving not once or twice but three times this year with family and friends who feel as though they are family.  On Wednesday it was to be fairly simple as I only had to roast a turkey and make the stuffing and gravy.  Sounds simple enough, nothing I haven’t done a 100 times before except this year I was in a major flare up and extremely foggy.  As I was attempting to use our food chopper, unsuccessfully I might add, I took it partially apart to try to figure out the problem and just when I thought I had it 2/3 of the way properly assembled I accidentally pressed the pulse button causing the blades to spin of their spindle and fly right through the air towards my face.  Even as off as I was feeling that day I still had enough sense left to put my hands up to protect my face which in turn left my hands in a very vulnerable state.  Before I knew it the whole mishap was over only I was left with serious cuts across three of my fingers and my thumb on my dominant right hand.  Blood was spraying every where so in my rush to staunch the flow I grabbed the first thing that was handy which happened to be a dirty dish towel on the counter.  I wonder just how many germs that thing holds within its many fibers.  Meanwhile my 5-year old is seeing all this happen.  He’s a little freaked out as you can imagine so I have to stay calm and play the whole thing down even though it hurts terribly and I just want to freak out myself.  I calmly tell him it’s all good, that Momma got a few cuts but that I’m fine.  I tell him I need him to go pick out some pants and a shirt real quick and put them on while I call Daddy.  He must have been in shock because he did it without a fuss which is usually what happens when I make this request because he’s my little nature boy who would prefer to run around commando all day or begrudgingly in his underwear.

I call my husband explain in shorthand what’s occurred and that I need him home right now to take me to the hospital.  My second call is to my neighbor and best friend Jessica telling her I was sending Joey over, that I’d cut myself and that Larry was on his way home to take me to the hospital.  No questions other than if I was okay and did I want her to take me right now.  She actually made me laugh because Larry only works 3 minutes from our home, but that is just the kind of friend she is – always there in any way she might be needed.  I told her no that I just needed her to take Joey and that he was on his way over.  In the meantime my turkey is done, the stuffing completed except for the chopping of the liver and gizzards, and the addition of an egg and turkey stock.  As soon as my hubby walks in I tell him what needs to be done to finish it up.  As you can imagine he looked at me as if I was nuts, standing there holding my hand in what now is a totally saturated dish towel with hardly any spots that aren’t soaked with my blood.  I tell him it will only take a couple of minutes to complete if he can get the fu**ing chopper to work and we don’t want to ruin everyone’s dinner tonight by their being no turkey.  He complies probably because he knows there is no reasoning with me in this state.

I head off to my bedroom to get dressed and find something better to wrap my hand in.  Thankfully Jessica shows up in the nick of time to do up my clothing and to help me redress my injury – again in dish towels but this time they are clean.  She wraps it with not one but two towels pulling them tight to help staunch the blood flow and secures them with an oversize band-aid.  By now you can imagine how comical I’m looking – hair uncombed, mismatched clothing and a lovely dish towel depicting a cow eating flowers in a field.

Larry pops the turkey in the roaster with Jess promising to baste it every 45 minutes until we get home.  She can not get over how calm I’ve been through the whole thing but really what choice did I have since my son was there and I didn’t want him to be scared.  My husband is in agreement with Jess and said if it had been him he would have been passed out on the floor at the sight of his own blood.  I don’t believe that to be true as he’s a lot tougher than he thinks he is.  After several hours at the hospital I walk away with 5 stitches, 7 steri-strips, two finger braces and a new respect for our Ninja chopper which I don’t think I’ll ever use again and certainly not when I’m in such a bad flare-up.

As for that night’s dinner, it went off without a hitch and all of us Monsons ate until our bellies could hold no more.

On Thanksgiving day we had Jess and her family over for dinner along with my hubby’s parents.  Larry cooked the whole meal by himself, all I had to do was give him instructions and set the table.  By the time it was all prepared he was a little tired and more than a little frustrated.  I think this is the first time he’s actually realized all the work that I go through for each holiday meal we prepare and we do the bulk of holidays and general get togethers at our house.  After he had it all done he told me he’d never allow me to do it all on my own again and that he was sorry for all the times that came before.  I appreciated his insight and thoughtfulness – yet another thing to be thankful for.

On Friday Jess returned the favor and had us over to their house for a Thanksgiving dinner.  It was so great because I always do the traditional items that I grew up with but Jess and Jeremiah threw some new things into the mix like brussel sprout au gratin which was to die for and sweet potatoes that tasted just like a pie without a formal crust.  For dessert they made a pumpkin rice pudding with raisins that was sinful.  As we each went around the table expressing what we were thankful for I realized just how blessed we all were for good friends, for family, meals shared and adventures yet to be had.

Nurturing Nature

I am one of those folks who feel most inspired when I’m out in nature.  It’s where spirit moves me and creativity is born.  Sunshine or rain makes no difference to me, there is always inspiration to be found.  Apparently my son feels the same as today I was awoken by the excited voice of my little guy shouting, “You guys, hurry, hurry there’s a rainbow right outside our window”.  To this, Larry and I rushed out into the living room to see a glorious rainbow sprouting out of the top of a tree just on the other side of our back fence.  How perfect is that.  We stood there in awe, as a family, talking about the colors that were clearly in view and how although we could sort of see the beginning we couldn’t tell where the rainbow ended.  The mysteries of nature at her finest.

I’m not a “God” type person, it’s just never been in my nature as I’m more moved by nature itself and align my beliefs more with the Native American traditions, although I have no ancestry in that direction.  It just seems like the right set of beliefs for me personally.  My husband on the other hand was raised Christian and was the son of a preacher with all the good and bad that goes along with that and it is important to him that our son learns about God, and it’s important to me to as I want Joey to be able to make his own choices as he grows.  So we currently have Joey enrolled in a Christian based transitional kindergarten and he is beginning to learn all about his father’s God and the glorious powers that He holds – such as the creation of rainbows.  Every day, all day long there are a 100 questions thrown my way about God, His creations, what He expects of his children, etc. and I find it so amusing that it is left to me to field all these questions as I’m his main caregiver since my hubby works outside our home.  How do I answer these questions without bias of my own beliefs?  Or is it okay to color his view with my own?  I’m not sure what the answer is to be honest.  Instead I’ve chosen to learn from my little one, allowing him to share with me what he is learning at school and how it makes him feel and think.  I’ve taken on the role of researching and locating different Christian books and movies that don’t smack my beliefs in the face while at the same time allow him to learn more about God.

I do believe there is a great creator, one entity in and of itself, so I can see my way to agreeing that exists, be it God, Buddha, Mother Nature or whatever name you want to put on it.  At the same time I want Joey to learn what I believe in as well such as treating others not only as you’d want them to treat you but even better; that we only have one world and so it is our responsibility to take care of it and one another; that each piece of nature is to be cherished for its beauty and its ability to sustain our lives.  I want him to be in awe of what our Creator has made each time he steps out that door and into the world.  To nurture it and in turn be nurtured by it.  I want him to hear Gods promises in the whisper of the wind through the trees, and in the smile of another child.  I believe that both things can work in harmony – his fathers beliefs and my own.

As for me, I’m going to sit here in silence on this morning, listening to the rain pitter patter onto the lawn, watch the wind whip the trees into a frenzied dance of winter, and be thankful for the gifts that my Creator has bestowed upon me.

Charity Begins in the Heart

I’ve been trying to figure out a way to explain charity and how it works and what it means deep down where it matters to Joey and I’ll admit it’s been hard.  He’s an only child, and for the first 4 1/2 years of his life we didn’t have a ton of friends that came to our house to play since we lived so far outside the bigger city limits but instead we’re always driving in to Rancho Cordova or Folsom to hook up with the majority of friends we’d made through a local play group and as a result he didn’t really learn how to share “his” toys, family or food.  Since moving to Mather this past May we’ve made huge strides in this area.  Don’t get me wrong, he was always willing to share toys, snack, whatever was at hand when we were out and about but usually it was a community share – he’d be playing with the toys at whatever location we’d be meeting at (not his own) and he willingly would hand over the truck, ball or Cheese It’s to anyone who asked.  Not the same premise when asked to do the same with his own things, in his own house.  Suddenly everything was labeled his “special” toy, food treat, Momma and that meant he didn’t have to share it.  We’ve had to redefine the role of what’s really special and that he can only choose one special toy a day that he does not have to share with whomever we’re having over to play that day.  It’s been a trial, but he’s finally beginning to understand and to think of his friends feelings if not first, then at least equally with his own.  It makes me feel proud to see him grow in this way.

He now allows me to give hugs and even kisses, though as soon as his friend has turned away from me he’ll come over to wipe their kisses off my face and to replace their hugs with one of his own.  That’s okay with me because one, it’s progress, and two, I know it’s just because he loves me best and with his whole heart.

All of his friends who are already in elementary school have been doing fundraisers of one kind or another – Entertainment books, coupon books, candles, etc. and Joey’s school just doesn’t do those things.  They charge to attend and therefore don’t necessarily have the same financial needs to be met because of state cutbacks as our public schools do.  That’s all fine and well, but if his friends get to go door to door then he wants to do it too.  For the month of November his school collects brand new socks for their Christmas Mall (where low-income and homeless can come shop for their families) and canned and non-perishable food items for the Rancho Cordova Food Locker.  Finally a “fundraiser” that he can participate in.  So after sitting down and explaining what they were doing and why, a reaffirmation of what had already been shared by his teachers, we discussed if it was something he’d like to participate in by going around our neighborhood and asking our neighbors if they’d like to donate to the food locker.  I barely got the words out of my mouth before he’s hopping up and down, saying “yes Momma, let’s go now”.  Of course it was raining and continued to rain on and off for the next couple of days so he had to wait, impatiently, for his chance to do his fundraiser.

Today the weather was beautiful and so after a morning spent at the park, Joey and his two pals Trevor and Garrett, and I set off with wagons in tow to do our soliciting.  We practiced what we would say, how to be professional and to say thank you whether they chose to participate or not at this time.  Trevor, the oldest of the three got his speech down after just a handful of houses, Garrett just asked for cans, and Joey tried to remember what we were asking for and why but usually ended up telling people we needed food to feed the children which drew a lot of looks in my direction on the sidewalk in which I’d have to elaborate that we were asking for donations on behalf of the RC Food Locker to help low-income and homeless families receive proper nutrition.  We got a lot of no’s, or that they’d already donated (we’re not the only school who collects for this organization) but the boys persevered and we got a number of positive responses as well.  Sometimes just a can, sometimes a bag with several items, but regardless of the response each drew a respectful thank you.  The folks who donated got a kick out of the boys routine, how they’d always look to see what kind of food was in the can and how they would say how they loved those, or “what is this”, or “have I ever had this before?”  When one gentleman handed Garrett and Joey each a can of tuna fish Joey turned to me and yelled, “Look Momma we got cat food, now their kitties can eat too!”.  Both the gentleman and I had to laugh out loud and I had to explain that was for people and not cats but I could understand how he’d get confused since it has a fish on the can and is the same size as the cans of cat food we fed to our kitties.

After a little over an hour we were tired, the boys hot and thirsty, and our wagons were getting to heavy for the boys to pull by themselves so we headed home.  I was so proud of how they’d handled themselves and how excited all three of them were to be able to give back to their community and to know that they had personally helped people to have food to eat that otherwise might have had to go to bed with a grumbly tummy because they were still hungry.  Now that Joey has begun to realize what it means to contribute to his community I want to come up with a way that we can do something each month, that a 5-year old could comprehend, to keep him on the path of giving from his heart.  If you have any ideas, please post them in a comment so I can see if their doable in our area.  In the meantime I need to wrap this up so I can research ways that I can begin giving from my heart to my community as it’s been a while and I need to hold myself as accountable as Joey is holding himself.