Tall Poppy Diaries

Observations and musings on life as a happy high-achiever (or what the Aussie's call a "Tall Poppy" ). "Unless you choose to do great things with it, it makes no difference how much you are rewarded, or how much power you have." --Oprah Winfrey

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


  The REAL Secret of the (holiday) Universe....

Wish me luck...later this afternoon am off to "camp out" at the second home (40 miles away and sans furniture--long story) with Son 1 and Son 2 for the week. They are performing in Ogden this week in the traveling production of Ballet West's "The Nutcracker". (No, they're not dancers--but for the next three weeks they get to do a really great job of pretending like they are). Then they'll perform for two weeks here at Capitol Theatre. I decided that it would be better and more fun (I'm weird that way) to camp out in a house with no furniture two miles away from the theatre there than to stick them on the Ballet West bus twice a day to arrive home in SL at 10:30 pm.--pitifully tired and cranky. And so we go....

Which puts our plans for Thanksgiving totally up in the air. And (thump me now...) I'm just fine with that. You see, this post over at Mad Mommy Chronicles reminded me of the lesson that I learned Thanksgiving, two years ago. And it was one of the best gifts I could ever give to myself or my family, though at the time I couldn't have imagined I would ever feel that way.

I will not relive the horrid details of Thanksgiving two years ago here...today, anyway. That would be the Thanksgiving where I left home on the Sunday before Thanksgiving at the spur of the moment, with my father hospitalized, to clear out my parent's home in Alabama in four days time AND move them and all of their worldly possessions 2,000 miles away to Utah. The one where I checked my father out of the hospital, took him, my mother (Remember Dory in "Finding Nemo"? THAT is my mother--as a result of a series of mini-strokes) and my 11-year-old nephew (who came along to make the transition easier for Mom, and then returned home the next week) to the airport, flew to SLC, landed at 10 pm. and arrived home exhausted, physically and emotionally, to find out that my husband had invited his entire family to our house for Thanksgiving--the next day. That would be the Thanksgiving that almost spelled the end of my marriage. AND the Thanksgiving when this little Pleaser Poppy learned to "Just say "NO!".

Nancy Reagan once said, "A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water". The night that I was able to stand up and say to my family (admittedly less eloquently than Miss Nancy), "I will die and burn in Hades before I will host Thanksgiving here tomorrow" was one of the pivotal moments in my life.

I have never been a doormat. I've always been quite outspoken, actually. But I am also a pleaser. Like Emily at Mad Mommy Chronicles, I want everyone to be happy. I want things to go smoothly. But sometimes the greatest gift a woman can give her family is to define very clearly for them the limits of what's acceptable.

No matter how much I love getting together with my family (and I am lucky--I have the best in-laws of anyone I know) and no matter how happy I want everyone to be, I no longer feel extreme angst over the preps for Thanksgiving. This year, Hubby's mom is in New Zealand. My Daddy is in Alabama with my siblings. Mom is here with us (they live six blocks away in a shi-shi "Home for Elegant Retirement Living"). I will be driving back with the boys late on Wednesday (evidently in a blizzard) to celebrate Thanksgiving with Hubby and Mom. And I don't plan on staying up the rest of the night cooking and preparing for a noon luncheon. Besides, I'll still have another blizzardy drive back to Ogden the next morning and two nights of sleeping on the floor to look forward to. I'm gonna need some rest! In a real bed!

So Sunday I asked Hubby, "What are we doing for Thanksgiving?" He replied, "I don't know. I don't plan Thanksgiving's anymore because when I do, I just get in trouble." I replied in my sweet, precious, smiling Steel Magnolia voice, "No, you only get in trouble when you're thoughtless and inconsiderate, and then have the audacity to say mean and nasty things to me about it". To which he replied, "Well then, I guess the answer to your question is 'I don't know'". And, ya' know what? That's good enough for me!

Hubby likes cooking for Thanksgiving. So maybe he'll surprise us and cook the dinner for us this year. He'll have two days at home with NO little distractions. Otherwise, I guess we'll go to Mom's like we did last year and have Thanksgiving courtesy of their chef. The food at their place is absolutely DIVINE--and we get to leave it to the professionals! Either way, I can look forward to feeling thankful on Thursday, rather than harried and bitter. I'll relax, laugh, eat and enjoy my day of Thanksgiving and remembrance. I may even host Thanksgiving dinner some year soon. But I finally know The Secret of the (holiday) Universe--You can "Just Say 'NO!'" to cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 40...AND live to tell about it. And, in the word's of 'Martha', "That's a REALLY GOOD THING!"

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you...and remember: Thanksgiving is a time to give Thanks and enjoy the company of family and friends. Give yourselves a break. Don't let yourself get overwhelmed. Keep things in perspective. Remember what's most important. And never be afraid to, well, you know exactly what to say....

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