By: Cheryl Maguire
*Please note: The story below is based on last year’s holiday season. While celebrating this year is much different, I hope to provide a reminder of the joy of family, and hopefully a glimpse of future holiday seasons.
“Can we please host Thanksgiving dinner?”
This is how I wanted to respond to my 11-year-old daughter: “Not if I can help it.” (Since I hated cooking, cleaning and anything related to hosting a dinner for 20 people.) If I’m being totally honest about my feelings, going over to my sister’s house sounded much more appealing. But I knew that wasn’t the answer she was looking for. Instead, I responded like any mom hoping to avoid a debate that could rival an experienced lawyer.
“YES!” My daughter screamed as she balled up her fist, moving it in a downward motion like she just won the lottery.
“Why are you excited?”
“Because maybe always ends up being yes.”
She had me there. Usually her lawyer-level debate skills ended up turning my maybes into a yes.
“It isn’t a yes yet. Now go get ready for school.”
Over the next week, I made a long list of all the reasons going to Auntie’s house for Thanksgiving would be far superior than hosting at our house in preparation for our upcoming debate. And just when I thought I was ready; I won a turkey from a contest at the YMCA. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that my daughter rigged the contest to make sure I won.
“Guess who won a turkey?”
“YES!” Again, my daughter screamed, balled up her fist and moved it in a downward motion like she just won the lottery.
“There you go saying yes again. You didn’t even guess who.”
“I can tell that you won, and that means we are going to host Thanksgiving.”
In addition to being a lawyer, it seemed like she may have some psychic abilities.
“Why do you want to host so badly anyway?”
“I want to decorate the house, bake and have everyone here.”
That’s easy for her to say. She didn’t have to go to the grocery store, clean the entire house and spend days cooking and baking. Or did she? If she wanted to host so badly, it only made sense that she complete all of the tasks involved in hosting.
“Ok, but you are going to have to grocery shop, clean and help me every step of the way.”
“YES!” Again, my daughter screamed like she just won the lottery.
Clearly she had no idea what she was in for. I couldn’t help but think that the poor turkeys had no idea what they were in for either.
At the crowded grocery store, I felt frustrated trying to make my way over to the aisle with the cranberries. My young Padawan was unfazed as she strolled along with a perpetual smile like she was in Disney World. Come to think of it, there were some parallels (like the mobs of people and overabundance of food), but it was lacking in people wishing you to have a magical day.
While we cleaned our house, my daughter maintained a sunny disposition. She even played music and danced as she did it. The song “Whistle while you work” popped into my head, and I was again reminded of Disney World. Maybe my daughter is going to be a Disney character one day. She will have a plethora of jobs to choose from, given all her abilities to adapt.
And when I didn’t think it was possible to be any happier, she looked the most elated to cook and bake.
When the big day came and we were all seated around the table, I thought about all the preparations. My daughter never complained and maintained a smile even when she did the less appealing things, like take out the garbage or clean the dirty dishes. Her enthusiasm was infectious, and I might even go as far as to say it was fun to host. The best part was spending time with her and realizing that something I thought was tedious could be entertaining.
“Mom, can we host Christmas?”
Even though I enjoyed hosting, I thought we were getting a little ahead of ourselves by discussing this before dinner was over.
“YES!” Again, my daughter celebrated like she just won the lottery.
It looked like we would be hosting Christmas too.