Last Thanksgiving our children and their families arrived early Wednesday and left Saturday morning, by which time we’d shared an unexpected Wednesday dinner for ten, Thanksgiving plus two birthdays on Thursday and our 50th Anniversary on Friday.
I complicated my Thanksgiving by recommending in my last column that we fast for breakfast and confess our shortcomings along with prayers to change our ways.
How, I wondered, with little experiences in fasts was I going to succeed surrounded by 11 family members?
Easily, once I learned more. Fasts can last as little as 12 hours and consist of water-fasting, juice fasting or limited diets, so I water-fasted from Wednesday evening to noon on Thanksgiving. My fast was threatened by offers of homemade pumpkin and ginger breads, tempting me to pretend a courteous taste wouldn’t break it. But I postponed the treats by heating a cup of water and joining the grandkids in the living room.
Fasting spiced my Thanksgiving by reminding me of unhealthy food intake and giving my body a brief time to rid itself of unhealthy toxins. Stephan Harrod Buhner, who wrote the award winning Fasting Path, described how our bodies process food or respond to fasting. I also learned that John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, fasted twice a week from midnight to noon to deepen his faith. I expect I’ll fast more often.
After Thanksgiving dinner we passed a small pumpkin to everyone for a their turn to share their thankfulness. The overwhelming favorite was the support of family, including those not at the table because of death or divorce. Death claimed our son-in-law’s mother and father in Panama last year. Divorce created sadness with one father missing. I silently regretted creating pressure on the family during critical child-rearing years by returning to school followed by unsuccessful professorial positions.
Finally it was time for a night’s rest before our 50th anniversary day.
“What are our plans?” Karen said from the hallway.
“We should do something,” I said from my Laz-y-boy.
She chuckled. We’d agreed not to exchange gifts. We both feel our anniversary won’t be over until we take our dream safari to Africa. And finish going through our albums.
“I just want to spend the day with my family,” she said.
But I’d cheated on a gift. Last Monday I woke with the inspiration of fifty yellow, red, white, pink and lavender roses, one color for Karen, our kids and me. The rose were more expensive than I expected and I knew she’d object, but by that time my inspiration was irreversible.
She melted when I walked in with them. “We weren’t supposed to do anything for each other,” she said.
“I know, but I decided my wife deserves a bouquet of fifty roses at least once in her life,” I said. I’d practiced that line.
“They’re beautiful,” she said as she cleared a place for them in the middle of her kitchen. We hugged and our alert granddaughter photographed us and posted it on her Instagram.
All afternoon we heard the chefs prepare steak, salmon, green beans with mushroom soup, salads and sliced Nakota potatoes with blue cheese, topped off with Karen’s favorite red velvet cake. They served it under five golden balloons and gave us mementoes we’ll cherish forever.
We finished the day with stories of how we met and had an on-and-off relationship for three years before getting married. The next day we asked if the grandsons got bored with all the storytelling.
“They loved it,” their mother said.
We loved the day. While the brothers and sisters had fun preparing dinner, I heard one of them say, “Of course we blame our parents for everything.”
And I thought, “It’s true, I’ve blamed things on both my parents over the years. Oops, that means they blame me for everything.”
They’ve got good reasons.
I’ll have to remember that next Thanksgiving during my confessions, and fast before we give thanks that somehow we are blessed with a close family.