Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving kernels

Like most families, we have a lot of Thanksgiving traditions. We get together with family and friends, eat too much, eat some more, say things we soon regret and Mo makes fun of me, her father, the Big Beef, and anyone else within 10 feet.

OK, we do that most weeks.

But Thanksgiving has its own rituals, which I've learned to love since I first shared the holiday with Mo seven years ago. She makes the one dish that no one minds if she screws up, corn casserole. We break bread with family friends, the Wollborgs. And we end the feast with the decades-old tradition of corn kernels. Everyone gets five, which are supposed to represent harvest seeds. We go around the table, forking one over as we give thanks for something specific. Over the years, the kernels have shrunk as the families -- and complaints -- have grown. More than a few times, I've tried to eat my kernels before it was my turn and grumbled when someone stole my stock answer, "I'm thankful we only do this once a year."

We're going to miss the tradition this year. Hope is simply too small and too new to the world to expose to so many smells, germs and noise.

We're bummed. Because we have plenty of fodder for those kernels this year.

I'm really bad at this stuff, so let's just jump away.

  • We're thankful to God, the universe, the Big Kahuna or whomever for delivering us Hope. Mo had one constant prayer when her pregnancy became difficult shortly after Memorial Day: "God, please let us take this baby home." Hope is cooing away as I type, snoozing contentedly and ignoring "Oprah" on the television. Smart baby. I prayed for a healthy child. So far, so good, but work remains before that one is answered. We both prayed for strength and continue to persevere.

  • We're thankful for our families who have been there with a gracious ear, shoulder of support, errand to run and understanding when we didn't want to talk. Their generosity has been big and small. They dropped off food when we didn't want to cook; cleaned our house when even we couldn't stand the cat hair; visited when we needed them; didn't complain when we told them to stay away; tolerated long periods of silence during the difficult months preceding Hope's birth; shopped for us; and were simply there when we needed them. Everyone has come up huge. We're very lucky.

  • We're thankful for friends near and far, especially those who've been better to us than we have to them. In the five months, 14 ultrasounds and numerous echocardiograms since Mo's pregnancy became high-risk, we were often so consumed in our own troubles that we failed to recognize those of others -- or their joys. Your unflinching support reminds us that friendship doesn't keep score.

  • We're thankful to doctors and nurses who guided Hope through an uncertain few days and delivered her to where she belongs. We had mixed feelings about the Beaumont NICU after the birth and death of our son. We were impressed by their competence, but not their attitude. This time, they seem to have gotten the message that we don't need pity, just understanding.

  • We're thankful to our employer, The Detroit News, and our colleagues for understanding and flexibility. We've done our share of grumbling over the years, but through it all, we've never worried about missed time or their compassion.

  • Mostly, we're thankful for this gift. We don't know how things are going to end up. Hope's presumed condition, CdLS, is frightening in its totality. We can only take learning about it in limited doses before wanting to curl up and cry. But we don't need to solve everything in one day. So Hope isn't just a beautiful, squeaky, big-eyed beauty. She's also teaching us much about letting go of our expectations, savoring quiet moments, taking victories as they arise and giving thanks for what we have, rather than being resentful for what we don't.

So there they are. Six kernels, Clem and Beef. Please count the extra toward next year, so I can duck out early and eat more pie.


Anonymous said...

Love the kernels Joel. Enjoy your pie and the famous corn casserole. (If you decide to make it). Whatever you eat, wherever you eat it, we are thankful that you & Moe have your precious baby home with you. Enjoy your turkey day. All our love,

Mike, Jamie & Connor & Garrett

Anonymous said...

Amen! So beautifully written.
So much to be thankful for. So family, no matter where your travels take you today, don't forget the corn kernals! We'll be together in spirit. And yes, Joel, we can count one up for you next year! Much love and hugs...
Grandpa Beef and Grandma Clem xoxo

Aunt Molly said...

Reminds me of my infamous move to over-eat and avoid playing games by secretly sneaking away to sleep in some bed--like last year. This year, there was no escaping or sleeping involved, just missing you from afar as you cradled your baby girl and gave her kisses at home. For that, I am thankful. You can have all my kernels.

Missing you three.
Much love and kisses,
Aunt Molly xox

grandma k said...

Look at that red hair! Well, she comes by it honestly, so I shouldn't be surprised, but it delights me every time I see it!

Thanks for keeping the blog going. That's a corn kernel for me -- such a lovely way of keeping our eye on our little one. Keep it coming . . . no pressure, of course!

Love to all of you from Maine!