Thanksgiving was nice this year, although I wish Jonah and I had been together for it. I am grateful to be employed, though, and grateful I was able to have the day off from work.
As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I love my family very much. As anyone who regularly reads this blog also knows, I am not the most social person in the world. One of my favorite sounds in the world, no joke, is the sound of stillness and silence that happens after a house full of people has left. After the last lingerers departed; after my mom and niece and nephew-in-law went to bed, I stood doing the remainder of the dishes in quiet, and it was such a lovely feeling. I love solitude; crave it sometimes. That doesn't mean I don't like people nor does it mean I don't also enjoy my relationships with friends, family, and Jonah. But I love quiet. And I love alone time.
I once stumbled on the definition of an introvert here, which I may have already posted on this blog before. Some of the highlights include:
"Contrary to what most people think, an introvert is not simply a person who is shy. ...Basically, an introvert is a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people.
"Introverts are more concerned with the inner world of the mind. They enjoy thinking, exploring their thoughts and feelings. They often avoid social situations because being around people drains their energy. This is true even if they have good social skills. After being with people for any length of time, such as at a party, they need time alone to 'recharge.'
"When introverts want to be alone, it is not, by itself, a sign of depression. It means that they either need to regain their energy from being around people or that they simply want the time to be with their own thoughts. Being with people, even people they like and are comfortable with, can prevent them from their desire to be quietly introspective.
"Being introspective, though, does not mean that an introvert never has conversations. However, those conversations are generally about ideas and concepts, not about what they consider the trivial matters of social small talk..."
This describes me to an absolute T. I am the textbook definition of an introvert, if the above is the true definition.
I tried to make Thanksgiving easier for Mom this year. She's always doing the majority of the cooking and always seems to be in a state of stress and frenzy during the holiday because she's always up and down and making sure everything gets done and served, etc. No one demands this of her; it just seems to be her nature, and as a result, while I know she enjoys getting together with the family, she always comes out of Thanksgiving feeling tired and frazzled.
Initially, a family friend invited Mom and me over to her house for Thanksgiving, and I said we probably would accept, thinking that would give Mom a break and just allow her to relax for a change. However, Mom ended up telling me to decline the invitation because she wanted to spend the holiday with the extended family. Fine.
So then my sister-in-law, niece, and I made a plan to alleviate some of Mom's burden. Mom wanted to make the turkey, potatoes, and stuffing, but we told Mom that everything else would be taken care of. My sister-in-law would make the pies and a jello salad she traditionally makes. My sister and brother-in-law would bring the sweet potatoes. I would take care of the rolls. My niece and nephew would make the remaining vegetables and help Mom cook everything while I put up the Christmas lights. They would set the table and chairs, etc. Everyone in the family had a duty designed to help Mom's holiday be a bit more relaxing.
Due to Mom's dementia, she forgot about our plans and ended up buying rolls and pies, for example, so we had quite an over-abundance of those items. In the case of pies, that's no so bad. In the case of rolls, I think we had way too many. Also due to Mom's memory problems, she didn't put the turkey in soon enough, and unfortunately we didn't realize it until it was too late. Also, somebody had inadvertently shut the oven off while the turkey was cooking. Long story short, by the time the meal had been finished, everything was ready except the main course, which needed another one to two hours. Nobody minded...except Mom, of course, who seemed a bit agitated about it (and it didn't help cook the turkey any faster that she kept checking on it. My niece was like, "Grandma, it's just going to take longer if you keep letting the hot air out of the oven.")
The meal was great. I just wish we'd done a better job at making the event more relaxing for Mom. After everyone left, Mom said how tired she was and that she was kind of happy the day was over. I wish Mom didn't feel she had to put out all of her energy to do Thanksgiving. We really tried to help ease the load, and we were successful in some cases. Oh, well. Maybe next year we can do better.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving and taking a cue from Mitch Mayne's post about The Thanksgiving Alphabet Game, I decided to play the game myself. As Mitch says, "The rules are simple: For each letter of the alphabet, name something you’re grateful for. To go a step further (and to make it a little more interesting), it helps to provide a brief statement of why you’re grateful—like I’ve done below. It’s silly, childlike, spiritual and amusing—all things that bring me back to my center."
In that spirit, here goes my list:
A. Acting - I don't know what I'd do without my career. From a very early age, I always knew I wanted to be an actor, and God bless my parents, they were very supportive in encouraging me in my career pursuits. And to actually make a living in my chosen career, which I love, is such a blessing, especially in a career field in which it is very challenging to make a comfortable living. I love playing other people, and especially when I am able to play characters very different from myself, I am allowed the opportunity to see life from a completely different point-of-view. I love acting so much.
B. Books - I love to read. Always have. And learning new things and reading about the experiences and interests of my fellow human beings is very often enriching. I love reading biographies and learning about other people's lives. I love a good, well-crafted piece of fiction. I love books that teach you how to do things, like how to be a better actor; how to compose music; how to speak a foreign language. I just love learning, and books open up a whole new world to me.
C. Christmas - Obviously I think more about it this time of year. I think it's my favorite holiday. I love the lights and music and decorations. I love the spirit of Christmas and hope I am successful at carrying it all the year through. I love the family togetherness. I enjoy the snow (not being in it, just looking at it). And obviously (I hope), I love it's true meaning: remembering and celebrating the birth of the Savior and celebrating the miracles that have been wrought in our lives because of that wondrous event; remembering our fellow man (for when we are in the service of our fellow man, we are in the service of our God. When we serve the least of our brethren (and sisteren), we are serving our Savior).
D. Democracy - Even though the political process can sometimes be annoying, I am very grateful to live in a country where it is the citizens that can, and often do, make positive contributions to how our government and laws function. One can be cynical about it, but what a privilege it is that we can open discuss and debate the problems of the country and that we can vote to change things for the better. Yes, there can be corruption and discord, but what a gift it is to live in a country where we are free to exercise freedom of speech and where our contributions to the democratic process can make a real difference. I wish we could all remember that and not take it for granted like we too often do.
E. Entertainment - I probably spend too much of my time on frivolous entertainment, but I am grateful for games, comedians, TV shows, movies, plays, musicals, music, etc., and I am grateful they are easily accessible. Sometimes I just need to relax or "leave my brain at the door" for a bit, and I'm glad I have so many different kinds of entertainment to help me decompress and, hopefully, teach me something valuable while I'm being entertained.
F. Family - I couldn't ask for a better family. I am grateful for their love and support and am equally grateful for the love and support they give my husband. I love them, and I am glad they are mine.
G. Gifts - Who doesn't like getting a gift, especially when it's unexpected? I appreciate the thoughtfulness involved in procuring a gift for somebody. I also am grateful for the gifts and talents my Heavenly Father has blessed me with, and I hop I am using them to help others draw closer to Him.
H. Heavenly Father - I love my Father in Heaven. I am grateful for his love, mercy, understanding. I am glad I know He is real and glad I know He loves me individually and loves me for who I am and who I can be. I am grateful for His abundant blessings in my life. I am glad I continue to come to a knowledge of just who He is and what He stands for. I am grateful for His ever-encompassing influence in my life.
I. Ice cream - I love it! If there were a Betty Ford clinic for ice cream addiction, I would probably have to check myself in. I'm glad there are so many varieties to choose from, and I'm glad so many of those varieties are chocolate-based.
J. Jonah - Where would I be without the love of my life? I shudder to think it. Jonah is so giving and loving and so full of integrity. He is supportive of me and my dreams; he has helped me be a better person; and I'm glad he and and I are together. I thank the Lord every day for Jonah. I am indeed lucky and blessed that he is mine.
K. Kitchen appliances - I love the convenience of microwaves, dishwashers, stoves, ovens, refrigerators, freezers, toasters, blenders, mixers, crock pots, grills, cookers, food processors, etc. When I think of what my ancestors had to do to store and cook food and wash dishes, I think how incredibly blessed we are to have what we have.
L. Love - Perhaps it's simplistic, but I am grateful to love and be loved. I am grateful for the love of my Heavenly Father, for the love of my Savior, for the love of my spouse, for the love of my family and friends, and even for the love I've experienced at the hands of strangers. Love has a power that is unfathomable in its reach. To experience love and to give is the greatest thing in the world. So many of our world's problems come because individuals have not experienced enough love in their lives or because individuals are not practicing love. Love really can change the world. I truly believe that.
M. Mom - My mom is one of my greatest friends and supporters and, of course, she's my mom. I am truly a mama's boy. I love my mom so much, and because of her and my dad, I am the person I am today, and I am grateful for that.
N. Night - I like nighttime. I like the dark, the quiet, the stars, the moon. It's often a very peaceful time. I am a night person, too. It is my time of day.
O. Optimism - I think I'm a pretty optimistic person (at least I try to be). I've learned in life that I can't control outside circumstance, but I can control my attitude towards them. I truly believe most people are good. I believe that even when things seem dire and full of despair, there is still good to be found. I believe we can learn positive things from even the worst situations. I have a friend who I lovingly call "little black rain cloud." He is very pessimistic and kind of curmudgeon. He's also one of my best friends, and I dearly love him. I try to infuse his life with optimism. He needs it. So many people do. I think it's better to be optimistic than pessimistic. It makes life a lot more enjoyable. I'm grateful I tend to be more optimistic about things.
P. Pizza - Love it! Enough said.
Q. Quiet - I already mentioned this at the beginning of the post. I love quiet. I love silence. I am very comfortable when things are peaceful and still.
R. Rain - Rain often reminds me of my mission in Belgium and France (where it rains a lot). I like the clean smell that often accompanies rain. I like misty rain a lot. I love a sudden shower on a warm summer day. I associate good things with rain.
S. Star Wars - I enjoy the Star Wars series a lot (particularly the original trilogy). I like the idea of good defeating bad, of redemption, of the small and humble things of the universe overcoming the seemingly more powerful and daunting ones. I like that a simple farm boy becomes the hope of the universe and not only succeeds in saving the universe from tyranny, but helps his wayward father find redemption. I also like collecting memorabilia from the movies.
T. Trooper, Blondie, and Chaplin - My three babies. My cats will probably be the closest I ever get to being a father. I miss them a lot. Yes, they aggravate me at times, but they bring me such joy, too. I can't wait to see them and Jonah again.
U. Fashion underwear - I love wearing it. I love the different colors and styles. I love how sexy it makes me feel. I love how it allows me another form of self-expression. I love Jonah in his, too.
W. Andy Williams - I love his smooth and soothing voice. He's been one of my favorite singers for a long time. I also love that I got the chance to actually see him in concert two years ago. What a thrill! I hear he has bladder cancer now. My prayers are with him and his family.
X. X-Rays - I don't necessarily enjoy getting them, but I'm glad they enable a doctor to see what's going on inside of me.
Y. Youth - I like the energy and innocence of youth and wish I had more of it myself. But I am grateful that I still feel very young at heart.
Z. Zoos - I love animals, and I love being able to see so many different kinds of animals. Sometimes I feel bad they can't be out and about in their natural habitats, but I love watching animals that I might never otherwise get a chance to see up close and in person.