I like Easter, and I like Mardi Gras, but without a doubt, my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. I love staying up late the night before making whatever I can in advance, and I love getting up early on Thanksgiving morning and having my coffee while I plan what still needs to be done.
This year is even better because not only do I get to have Thanksgiving next week, but I also had Thanksgiving yesterday at Ruby’s school.
The original game plan, according to Ruby’s teacher, was for the kids to treat us as their guests, decorating place mats for us, setting the tables, pulling out our chairs and serving us food. In reality, this didn’t exactly happen; it’s too hard to change the ingrained natures and relationship dynamics of a roomful of parents and children. All of the parents (moms, mostly, with a few exceptions) made sure the kids were served first. We all hustled around the room pouring apple juice, passing out plastic forks, cutting meat, opening salad dressing packets.
“No, no, no,” said Ruby’s teacher. “Children! 1-2-3, eyes on me! Didn’t we say you would serve your parents?”
Looking chagrined, Ruby scrambled out of her seat and made an elaborate show of pulling my chair out. “I’m sorry, Mommy,” she said. “You should sit.”
“Thank you, Ruby,” I said.
But no sooner had my butt hit the plastic seat than Ruby piped up, “I want some more jambalaya, please!” So I hopped up again to fill her plate. The “I come second” nature of parenthood dies hard.
I was surprised, though I guess I shouldn’t have been, at the wide variety of food at a pre-K potluck. There were turkey and chicken and stuffing, of course, but there were also two kinds of jambalaya, cabbage and sausage, dirty rice and good French bread. It took living in the Midwest for a decade to make me realize how lucky we are here when it comes to food.
It wasn’t the most elegant meal I’ve ever had. Laminated place mats, plastic utensils, a foam tray, tiny plastic chairs. Spilled apple juice. Smeared chocolate frosting. Pumpkin bread ground into the alphabet carpet. But with Ruby grinning at me with an apple slice in her mouth, Bryson holding my hand and Nico talking to me about dinosaurs, it’s hard to think of a meal I’ve enjoyed more.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!