This thanksgiving I looked around at the midpoint and realized how very much this was like a ‘normal’ day for us.  The girls had run off together a few times, nearly always ensuing in some sort of fussing (and, I found out that evening, ‘washing their hands’ in Sonata’s bed which drenched a good 1/2 of the mattress.  I don’t pretend to understand that.) but were now playing separately at different pursuits.  The boys were glued to some screen or other and/or complaining about their mother’s lack of ability to both cook a thanksgiving meal AND help solve Zelda puzzles at the same time.  The infant merrily fussed along as if I hadn’t already explained to her that I was supremely busy.  They were collectively involved in the same pursuits and arguments that they ‘always’ tend to in their free time… only with more grumping.

If you are a fellow overly-idealistic-about-holidays person, you know that what we SHOULD be doing is having deep and meaningful discussions interspersed amongst doing things together as a family every second of the entire day that always involve smiling at each other in a saint-like fashion while observing all the niceties that Emily Post could have conjured up (because, you know, there are so MANY things that everyone from 0-33 CAN do all at the same time… and enjoy). 

Obviously, I never set myself up for disappointment with my expectations…

Later that day I took stock of things with a slightly different perspective.  I had noticed that my eldest daughter was tired enough she was beginning to ‘drunk drive’ (If you’ve never had a child who goes glassy eyed and whose common sense inhibitions basically turn off to the point she has NO idea what she’s doing… you may not understand this term in context.), my oldest son was beginning to become obnoxiously fixated on badgering me or his dad for playtime on a specific game (if you want to know whether he’s tired, check to see if he’s being responsible and sweet or obnoxious and irritable.. there’s your answer), my younger boy was still being himself… he’s fairly consistent, tired or no, and Sonata was starting to drag and rub her eyes. No really big irritants, per se, all day.  We even painted some ornaments kinda sorta together-ish.

Throughout the day, Dad had divided his time between them beautifully.  Nothing ‘wrong’ was really happening, the only taint being that everyone was SO VERY TIRED… oh, and not meeting my preconceived notion of what Thanksgiving should look like.  🙂

Why were they tired?  

Only because we’d spent the last two days (and a separate day before that) doing things ‘together as a family’ in the sense that everyone was cooperating to reach the family goal of getting our 70ish chickens processed.  (Every time we counted, there were two more than we thought… we have always suspected that they multiply on us!) 

And you know what?  We did have some deep and meaningful discussions while that work was being accomplished.  And while we may not have always been smiling like the metaphoric saints… I had a 3 and new 5 year old who ‘saintfully’ played together either WHILE entertaining an infant to the best of their abilities or while obediently being quieter and more adherent to the “Thou shalt not play in the living room where the baby is sleeping, nor shalt thou make noises that might awaken the baby whilst she is sleeping” commandment than they are when I’m inside to monitor it.  I had a near 7 and 8 year old who basically put in a cheerful 10 hour work day (with breaks) the first day with steadily decreasing enthusiasm and presence the following two (understandably…)

When their help wasn’t required outside, I had no cause to stop what I was doing to solve sibling issues or ‘help’ one of the little kids until Caela was ready to eat or sleep… she was pitching in by being easy to care for.  And why wasn’t I interrupted more often? Because everyone pitched in as cheerfully inside as when they were outside helping. 

I guess in light of all that, our Thanksgiving can be a less formal (read: less demanding) and maybe even with a less than ideal amount of grumping/arguing and maybe even serve as a break from coordinated family activity. 

Since we’re all done with our necessary fall ‘big labor’ days, though, I can begin working on my idealistic expectations for Christmas, right?