As I wrap up preparations for tomorrow’s (well, now today’s given the hour) Thanksgiving celebration, I am flooded with wonderful memories from my childhood.
My grandmother would rise at 3 a.m. to put the turkey in the oven. I don’t think I should say “rise,” because I’m not sure she ever slept. I’d inherited her ability to get an hour or two of sleep and function at full capacity, but sadly outgrew it.
Her stuffing. Oh, her stuffing. There was nothing like it. There’s still nothing like it. I think it was the Bell seasoning that gave it that extra something—but maybe not. She took that secret with her to the grave.
And the mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows. My favorite! She’d get so irritated with me for stealing the crisp shells off the top before she’d had a chance to prepare them for serving. I truly was a pain in her butt now that I reflect back, always heading upstairs to my grandparents home to make mischief.
How she did it all amazes me. We had an expansive home with small rooms and limited closet space. It was once a rectory, and well, I’m quite certain their wardrobe was limited.
With almost no counter space in her kitchen (virtually none, when I think back), she created a masterpiece. Never a complaint, always working from dawn to dusk and beyond, yet she made it seem effortless.
Fast forward to today, I think about how spoiled we all are. Even with what we have, we always want more—a bigger kitchen, a bigger home, a multi-car garage. More time, more sleep, and more help.
We are never satisfied. We don’t know how to make do with what we have, but long for more. Bigger and better.
My grandparents generation knew how to make do.
They made their marriages work because they couldn’t afford to divorce. Today, we can’t get married until we reach a certain career level, own a home, or backpack around the globe. Yet, divorces are more common than ever.
They cared more about their families than themselves. Today, we send our kids to daycare and focus on our careers. We need mommy and daddy time before we play with our kids. Yet, parents are in therapy, kids are medicated, and families are in disarray.
And they were productive day in and day out, no matter what they were enduring personally or professionally. We never even know the hardships they were dealing with. They didn’t need to meditate or make more time for self. They made do. They sacrificed and saved.
Today, we don’t have enough time for us. We can’t cope, can’t deal, and struggle to survive the day. We need nannies, cleaning services, and personal trainers—therapists, life coaches, and personal shoppers. Yet, we are still unhappy and dissatisfied.
These may not seem like big deals, but they’re huge. They never complained. We, as children, in turn, always felt rich—because we had what counted: security, love, and safety. Even if the world was falling apart around us, we didn’t know.
We are a spoiled society.
Some of us, not all of us.
I know that I was and am blessed. I know that I was raised in a way that planted the seeds of hard work, service, and gratitude. And how thankful am I to have been brought up in this way. Wouldn’t change it for the world.
As I worked into the wee hours of this morning to make everything just right—though something will inevitably go wrong; it’s Murphy’s Law, after all—my heart was full.
Bittersweet because there are so many who have passed on who I want here with us tomorrow, but grateful for so much.
Ma, thank you for all you did. You were truly a selfless woman, and I only wish that I’d been mature enough to appreciate everything you did, everything you were.
But what I can say is there’s a part of you in everything I do, everything I am.
For you, I am grateful and promise to make you proud for as long as I have on this earth.