For the last six years since we’ve been married, my husband and I have hosted Thanksgiving at our home. This has included various venues from our wee little rental on Davis Islands after we first got married to the “big kid” home we bought five years ago in a quaint little ‘hood in Tampa.
Hosting Thanksgiving is exhausting.
Especially because I don’t cook.
So what I mean to say is watching my mother cook a Thanksgiving feast is exhausting.
To change things up this year, my husband wanted to spend Thanksgiving out of town and in the mountains. But this wasn’t just any Thanksgiving. My Dad’s 60th birthday also happened to fall on Thanksgiving day. So we called my sister and my brother in law, got them on board, and rallied our family to rent a home in Maggie Valley. The small city is nestled in the mountains of North Carolina roughly three hours north of Atlanta (depending on your speed) and 35 miles west of Asheville.
Maggie Valley was the perfect Thanksgiving destination because my Dad’s sister, Aunt Lynda, and some of my cousins and their extended families have cabins in the area, and they were also planning on spending Thanksgiving in the mountains.
It would be an epic Thanksgiving birthday soiree.
Instead of flying to North Carolina, my husband and I drove from Tampa with our two young daughters and an SUV full of junque. Essential junque, that is.
Goldfish crackers. Coloring books. Two packages of diapers. Feather down pillows. Blankets. A stroller. A large Vera Bradley duffel bag (hello- college!) filled exclusively with my cosmetics and hair taming equipment. Twelve pairs of shoes. Ten pairs of jeans. Boogie Wipes. Stuffed Animals. A DVD player. Except ours was broken, so we settled for my husband’s 20-pound old school laptop.
Fitting even another raisin in the car would have been challenging.
We were the
Beverly Hillbillies Griswolds.
Articulating the nightmare associated with traveling 10 hours with an eighteen month old and three year old is another blog post in itself.
Use your imaginations.
When we arrived at the cabin at 4 p.m. the day after we left Tampa, we were greeted with three large packages on the front porch. The first contained a bottle of wine (my favorite!) and the second was filled with children’s toys such as crafts, coloring books and crayons, magnets, playing cards, Christmas movies, and a Barbie sing-a-long CD. The third package was The Grand Imperial Poobah. It included gourmet popcorn, a soy candle, Skinny Girl margarita mix, whiskey, maple syrup, pancake mix, assorted teas, hot cocoa, matches, nice-smelling hand soap, and stationery.
Man, I thought. These home owners went above and beyond welcoming us into their home. They didn’t have to do this. It’s incredible!
Suddenly, the cheapskate in me hoped the owners wouldn’t take the cost of these goodies out of the security deposit.
Then I opened a card that was attached to the wine bottle.
The care packages weren’t from the owners. They were from Aunt Lynda.
This was so typical of her. Always giving with a generous heart. Giving out of love and the sheer desire of pleasing others without expecting anything in return.
How many times has someone done something like this for her? It doesn’t matter because Aunt Lynda doesn’t keep a score card.
A couple weeks ago when I was sitting in the nail salon, I overheard a woman say she wasn’t attending a girlfriend’s bridal shower because that friend didn’t go to hers. Two years ago.
I also observed a work colleague get angry with another colleague who didn’t cover a court hearing for her after she did her a favor.
Neighbor A got fed up with Neighbor B for not bringing her dinner when she had a baby, after Neighbor A was the one who organized Neighbor B’s meal train when Neighbor B had her baby last year.
Guilty over here as well.
Hate to admit, but there’s been times when I have- or haven’t- done something for another person because I’ve been held hostage by my mental score card of what that person did or didn’t do for me.
It’s ridiculous, immature, and emotionally taxing. Nonetheless, I’ve occasionally tried to justify myself.
Then I got to thinking.
What if God had a score card?
What if He kept track of all the gifts and blessings He’s given to me, as well as all of the gratitude He received in return?
What would happen if God made his blessing contingent upon my good deeds?
I would be screwed.
Thank God (pun intended) He doesn’t keep a score card.
Look. I’m not trying to say we should set ourselves on fire to make other people happy. I’m also not saying we should let other people take advantage of us. What I am saying is that we should do kind things for others because we want to do them, and not because that person did or didn’t do something for us in the past.
On the other hand, if we choose not to do something for someone, it should be because we genuinely don’t want to do it. It shouldn’t be because that person didn’t do something for us, and we know this because our stupid score cards told us so.
As 2015 closes, can we make an effort to burn those ridiculous score cards?
Special shout out to Aunt Lynda for her kindness. She will never know how appreciated and special she is in my life.
Another special shout out to anyone who has traveled, or plans on traveling, with little ones around the holidays. May the force be with all of you.
And wine. Lots of wine.