Good evening, everyone. Or good morning. Or good whatever time it is on the planet I woke up on. The nap I took this afternoon was something so special, the best way I could describe it was otherworldly. I had the whole upstairs bed to myself. With our room fan blowing wildly over my head, the gentle wind felt like a cool cotton blanket draped over my face. The shades were open, but when I woke up the sun had gone down, and all the light had emptied out of the room. Had I slept for hours? Decades? Centuries? Did I wake up in another dimension?
Before my nap, our small family sat down at the table for a humble quarantine style Thanksgiving dinner. We had spent all morning finishing up the sides in the kitchen. With the oven on full blast all morning, I was already sweating through my nice outfit.
“Why did you put on a nice outfit?” laughed Marissa. My choice of nice jeans, dress socks, and a button down shirt drew funny looks from my pajama clad family. Due to the lack of socialization today, even baby Miles stuck to his more casual green dinosaur romper.
“I was just feeling excited about Thanksgiving,” I laughed. “And I really wanted to wear this shirt.”
To be honest, I wasn’t even sure why I dressed up for a holiday in which we weren’t going anywhere or seeing anyone. But my subconscious intentions all became abundantly clear to me after dinner when I changed right back into pajamas. You know that glorious feeling when you get home from a long trip or a big occasion and you first drop your nice outfit to the floor? I don’t think I’ve had that sensation all year, and it could have been what truly catapulted me into the most peaceful nap I’ve ever taken.
Sip. How was your Thanksgiving? How many helpings? How many waves? We’ve been chipping away at our mountain of leftovers all day. Speaking of food, let me talk you through the spread we had.
Last night I rinsed the turkey off in our sink and patted it dry with a towel. I would go on to season the bird and liberally apply rosemary shallot butter underneath the loosened skin. Inside, I stuffed the bird with tied bunches of parsley, poultry herbs, shallots, and lemon wedges. Looking over my shoulder at a Martha Stewart YouTube video, I tied the bird and slid it into the fridge.
From a separate pair of wings, I made a simple turkey stock. We put the turkey stock in the gravy, and with a little bit of convincing I corrupted Marissa into adding it to her Grandma’s stuffing recipe. Meanwhile, Marissa twisted and turned around me in the kitchen like a dancer, assembling sweet potato casserole, corn casserole, and stuffing. Marissa also baked a blueberry pie and an apple pie, and by far her Sports Center highlight would have to be the impressive crosshatch pattern on top.
It’s honestly kind of strange how well Marissa and I work around each other in the kitchen. We almost never bump into each other. We never get in each other’s way. We barely use utensils the other person needs. Whatever mysterious natural instinct helps schools of fish stay together in open water must also be what prevents us from colliding into each other in the kitchen.
Meanwhile, Rodney spent the entire morning watching Blaze on the living room couch. He casually shuffled into the dining room. “What’s for lunch, Dada?” he said. I imagine he was expecting a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a little bowl of mac n cheese.
“Take a look, dude,” I said, hoisting him up by his armpits. His eyes scanned the neatly stacked plates and spread of turkey, stuffing, corn, green beans.
“Wow!” he said. “How did you make all this?”
“Dude, what do you think we’ve been doing in here all morning?” I laughed.
“I want those,” said Rodney. He pointed to a long plate of sliced cranberry sauce.
“Sure thing, dude,” I said, collecting food on Rodney’s plate. Per his request, I flopped two whole slices of cranberry sauce on the side. Moments later, Rodney regretted his decision. He slid his plate back to Marissa. There was a tiny nibble in one of the slices of cranberry.
“I don’t like these,” he said. “These are pretty gross.”
Marissa and I burst into laughter. “What do they taste like?” I asked.
“They taste like… spicy sauce,” said Rodney rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
Like Rodney, I’m sure we’ve all had this seminal realization about cranberry sauce. I’m sure as kids we were all once lured in by its shiny, wriggly beauty, thinking we were biting into a strange wedge of homemade jello or a giant grape flavored fruit snack.
“They’re kind of weird thought, aren’t they?” I said to Marissa. “It really doesn’t make sense.”
“Yeah you’re right,” said Marissa. “I like them, but I don’t get it either. They’re cold. They’re served just right out of the can.”
We teased Rodney as we ate our food. I kept the rest of the slices on a plate beside Rodney. “These are waiting for you when you’re done, dude,” I said.
Moments ago, I put Rodney to bed. He and Marissa stayed up past his bedtime putting up Christmas lights. It was too late for a bedtime story, but I wanted to make sure we still got in our question time.
“Today was Thanksgiving,” I explained. “It’s a day where we take time to remember the things we’re thankful for.”
“OK, OK,” said Rodney, nodding along.
“Like for example - I’m thankful for momma. I’m thankful to have a smart, cool son like you. I’m thankful for how much baby Miles likes to smile. I’m thankful for two nice puppies. What are you Thankful for?”
Rodney sat up in bed. “Open your mouth,” he instructed. I sheepishly opened my mouth. Rodney extended his index finger and reached into my jaw. I felt his finger nail stab the very top of the roof of my mouth, raking it back towards my gums.
“Do you know what that is?” said Rodney, pulling his hand out of my mouth. He wiped his finger on my shirt sleeve. “That’s your skeleton. It’s inside of you.”
I’m not thankful for that moment. Someone else’s finger raking against the roof of your mouth is among the worst sensations I’ve ever felt. But I am thankful to have a son like Rodney who never fails to surprise me. Even if I didn’t love with all of my heart, I would still appreciate having him around just for his ability to surprise me.
And I’m thankful for you, reader. At the time of writing this, I’m over 458 straight days and 551 thousand words into this daily journal project. I’m touched by people like you who care enough to follow along through good days and bad days, days where I feel depressed and days where I feel hopeful. Today I feel grateful. If you haven’t noticed, routines are important to me, and I guess at the core of it, I’m honored to be part of your routine.
Sending love from the Recker family. Socially distant for now, but never alone. Have a happy Thanksgiving, everyone.