How to Navigate the Magical Flight of the Awkward: Gentle Guidance

December 17, 2019

Poe.

4:19 am. Day two of my two days off. The night before I had driven home later than expected, through a snowstorm, certain that a Milwaukee Bucks game would both soothe me, yet captivate enough to keep me awake at least for an hour or two. I had scurried from a dentist appointment to Christmas shopping to a quick meal of fast food Chinese.

4 am writing

That was the plan. But upon my arrival home, the combination of my collection of Chief Joseph woolen blankets and a televised basketball game lulled me into an early sleep. Now the pre-dawn glow of Christmas tree lights and lazy embers from the fire nudged me awake, gently reminding me that I had no pressure of a day’s schedule. This latest storm reminded me of the season’s first on Thanksgiving Eve.

Giving Thanks.

I know Thanksgiving is now miles away in people’s minds. In the holiday cycle, the bold festivity of reds, greens and twinkling lights replace orange decorations, turkey meals and pumpkins. Perhaps the lateness of the date has gotten me discombobulated. November 28th was just a skip ago, wasn’t it? But in the celebration cycle, it has been miles ago. (In my retail world, we just received our first Valentine’s Day merchandise!)

For the past two Thanksgivings, my family celebrates the holiday a day earlier than the official day. I work retail and I have a college-aged son who I believe needs massive amounts of Thanksgiving leftovers while he is home. Despite the fact that my family gatherings have grown smaller, I still cook our traditional meal in a rather obscene quantity. Everyone gets leftovers to take with them.

My family is not the portrait of a traditional, nuclear family bliss nor is it a banner of culture diversification. We are average. As a family of ex spouses, children, siblings, half-siblings and parents, we gather happily – sometimes not on the same day – but we gather.

The first snowstorm of 2019

Thanksgiving 2019 brought the first major snowstorm of the Wisconsin winter. Half the United States felt its impact. It deserved to be named. Eight inches then four more topped our landscapes with dollops of white, heavy snow. Winds gusted.

I woke up early enough to begin a day of cooking but not so early as to be dog tired – or super cranky – by the early evening meal. Bread. I began my cooking orgy with bread baking. I cooked sausage, onions and celery for stuffing. I was feeling, well, rather festive and downright blissfully domesticated.

At 8 am, the lights flickered a bit. The storm was stunning but at that time it seemed not as severe as had been predicted. We had plenty of wood for a fire. Everyone was safe. On I cooked.

At a bit past ten o’clock, the household lost electricity. I must admit to a portion of the morning being less than graceful in my attitude. My cocky domestication drained out. I panicked. I had an overabundance of food which needed cooking. I eyed up the grill outside. Although it was covered and recovered by a snow blanket, I considered the possibilities of grilled turkey. Hmm?

Um, no.

While we missed him, we were all thankful my brother had not traveled. And, speaking of travel, I was quietly grateful at the winter’s coordination of storms with my days off work. But as I researched the utility company’s estimated return of power, I realized this outage would not be short lived.

I had a family to feed for Thanksgiving. At this point, we had bread. We had fresh, fresh, home-baked bread. And because I am me, we also have a fairly good supply of peanut butter. Thanksgiving, in my home, was celebrated with fresh peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

We spent the day intermittently reading, laughing, and napping. The biggest worry was bathroom related, but we managed just fine. And later we staged a cribbage tournament. I always read about people’s holidays which transform a disaster or near disaster into fondest memories. I envied their experiences and slightly doubted such recounts. Could families really experience that? Surely someone made those stories up.

Nope. I totally believe them now. The peanut-butter-sandwich-no-electricity Thanksgiving of 2019 turned out to be one of the best holidays. But equally true and with a dose of reality, just as the novelty of no electricity started to wear thin, our luck and power were restored. My turkey feast happened over a period of the following days, each day finishing the turkey and the fixings and on another day, finishing the pies.

There were sections of northcentral Wisconsin which had no power for four days. My family had been warm, fed and healthy. On peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cribbage…

The Magic of Teapot

The Magic of a Pumpkin Teapot

For the holidays, my mother insists on gifting me with what I consider almost magical gifts. This year she gave me a pumpkin teapot and cranberry autumn black tea. Even though we are in Advent and as I decorate, the pumpkin pot remains on my table, along with the collection of candles I produced from a variety of drawers. It’s cheery orange is so out of place among the growing decorations of Christmas reds and greens. Yet I cannot put it away. Even the tea presents itself as a rather mystical blend of herbs in strange, silky pyramid teabags.

In our Thanksgiving holiday and in all holiday celebrations, my mother and I are always the last to be awake. She and I catch up even though we catch up often. But this holiday I shared with her photos. Some of my work caught her eye. I realized I had never shown her. And above many attributes, my mother has ‘a good eye.’ She also possesses an abundance of honesty. Happily we shared stories, art stories.

It’s a snowfall, Pumpkin.

I am still working on the ‘Thirty Day Abdomen Challenge.” (My tummy might require ninety days of challenges!) I might also be en route to new habits all around as I have become accustomed to not excusing myself. )I think!) I am becoming accustomed to pushing myself at work and setting my own challenges as well as those of my team. (I hope!) Why was I not doing the same for myself, in the other areas of my life?

Amid snowfalls, peanut butter and pumpkin teapots, I started dabbling in the arena of self-control. After I recovered from the shock, I am still not ‘there’ wherever that ‘there’ is. I am setting schedules and reminders for myself. As I color code my smartphone reminders and task lists, I am intrigued and perplexed. Such an odd process. Really odd.

The oddest part of the whole process is the immense satisfaction of sticking to my bizarre web of reminders. I love it…I am figuring out how to work and how to schedule and how to take care of my life. And it is a web of reminders that I keep building upon. I find my efforts rather….um….’cute’ and almost silly. Color coding? Pfft.

Yes, color coding. Cute. And effective.

Until next time, I wish you happy awkwardness (giggle)

Lots of love and a kiss… May you be Blessed,

Stephanie, tbd.

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