Snow Sunday: The Right Time

Thanksgiving comes at the wrong time. Or, at least, that’s what I’ve been told for a while now. My mother, a pragmatist, complains that it’s too close to Christmas: “There’s barely even time to breathe between holiday meals!” My mother-in-law, a hobby farmer, complains that it’s more than a month after the harvest: “Everything’s already dead in the garden!”

Being a tourist in my own town on Thanksgiving

Being a tourist in my own town on Thanksgiving

But, for me, this year Thanksgiving came at just the right time. Things have been a bit busy around here. Whirlwind doesn’t quite seem an apt description for this fall. Think tornado, something, if I’ve got my meteorology right, is just one notch smaller than a cyclone. Between writing graduate school papers, working on a novel, grading high school papers, and taking care of my family, there was barely time to look up and notice the leaves had faded from green to yellow and from brown to dust.

Everyone always tells you that the grade school years with kids are the hardest. Yet, I’ve always nodded solemnly, while internally dismissing those naysayers as fools. What could be harder than babies, who seem to wake and feed and poop at intervals closer to a teenager’s texting rate than at anything approaching human? Sure enough though,  a few years later, I find that I am the idiot. Those naysayers were right! These are, indeed, busy years, filled with wonderful things such as burgeoning readers and hockey players and skiers and not so wonderful things like bullies and tears and strange stomach bugs that flatten families faster than those aforementioned windstorms.

And so when this week of vacation rose out of the mayhem, I decided a few things. First, I would do my very best not to bark at my family (unless they were being extremely annoying, as opposed to just moderately annoying, in which case I would try to explain rather than snap. Secondly, I would sleep (and not just 5 or 6 hours of sleep—I’m talking 8 or even 9 hours of sleep). Third, I would play with my family: we would drive to Santa Fe and visit friends, and when we returned, we would ski everyday. And lastly, but perhaps most significantly, I would cook something more expansive than a quesadilla or a box of mac n’ cheese.

Skiing with Siri Shoff and Mollie McTigue, 2 ripping 8-year olds!

Skiing with Siri Shoff and Mollie McTigue, 2 ripping 8-year olds!

My results haven’t been perfect, but the week has. I have slept and eaten something other than a quesadilla and have managed to be friendly (and even fun!) around my family. It’s amazing really how simple it is to be a better person when you sleep. As a result, I feel rested and ready for the holiday season rather than already tired of it. Most importantly, I feel grateful for everything in my life that is going well—my health, my family, my work, my school, and my ability to play. Not only to have time for skiing and ice hockey. But for smaller play, the play that matters, perhaps, the most to small children. The impromptu wrestling matches. The silly jokes we make up on the gondola. All of those things that go by the wayside when everything is compressed, and every second of the day matters.

I’m not saying I’ll walk away from this week a Buddhist. After all, soon enough grad school and work and hectic daily life will resume. But if there’s anything that I can walk away with it is the thought that I don’t have to get everything done at once. There is always time for a little rest and play (even if it’s not a week of such.)

Sorry mom. Sorry mom-in-law. Thanksgiving’s just right.

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