Clark: Our holidays were always such a mess.
Clark Sr.: Oh, yeah.
Clark: How'd you get through it?
Clark Sr.: I had a lot of help from Jack Daniels.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
For the briefest of moments, I wished I had Jack’s help.
Mr. Pettit was making pancakes for the family on Thanksgiving morning and the kitchen was a war zone. We weren’t fighting, but hazards lurked around every corner. A griddle at the counter’s edge, its expanse of sizzling metal waiting to be pulled to the floor with a quick jerk of the cord. A cookie sheet of frying bacon emerging from the oven, held aloft with one mittened hand. Cabinet and refrigerator doors opening and closing, creating a constantly changing obstacle course.
No big deal, right? But then there were the—-Da Da Duh!—-children.
One toddler who despises food, fleeing from breakfast like a vampire from sunlight. Another chasing his four-year-old sister—-or was she chasing him? I can’t remember. There was singing and roaring and yelping and the kitchen was at the center of the vortex, beckoning the little ones with its siren call of danger. I started to wonder: If Thanksgiving breakfast were this challenging, how in the world would I prepare Thanksgiving dinner? (More importantly, would we get through the day without a trip to the emergency room?)
The situation, my friends, was becoming desperate.
A man-to-man defense was put in place and Stern Substitute Teacher Voice was deployed as well. A quasi-calm settled over the house and a multitude of fluffy pancakes was consumed. I did not reach for the vodka Younger Son’s Wife uses to make pie crust. (Trust me, the crust is to die for.)
That afternoon we gathered for Thanksgiving dinner during the children’s nap time (per their parents’ request). As Mr. Pettit thanked God for bringing us through the joys and trials of 2018 my eyes filled with tears. My grandchildren had reminded me that life can be loud and messy and nerve-jangling and energizing and beautiful and sweet, all at the same time.
And it’s the beauty we lock away in our hearts.
Our chaotic breakfast is already becoming just a wisp of a memory; if I recall it in years to come it will be as a funny little anecdote, any sharp edges sanded away. But the sweetness? That’s another story.
Dancing with my grandchildren to the music of the movie Rio. Reading a Christmas book to our grandson and elder granddaughter. Making Christmas ornaments and beaded bracelets. Watching all three children as they drove their little ride-on vehicles in our garage like the Fast and Furious crew as a cold rain poured outside.
Knowing I’ve barely scratched the surface of my blessings leaves me with a sense of wonder and gratitude. I’m awestruck. I’m humbled.