Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Giving Thanks

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Giving Thanks

On Thanksgiving Day my parents came to our house with teriyaki steak kabobs, twice baked potatoes, and fresh bread. My father fired up our barbecue up on the back porch out of the bitter, snow-scented wind and managed to keep the fire under our dinner lit. We then enjoyed a wonderful meal in front of the Dallas Cowboys game and had a great time.

Friday Brian headed over the snow-covered mountains to the Civil War game, where he and his little friends enjoyed the dead ducks he brought and fried in effigy. The ducks were apparently joined in his deep fat fryer by jalapeno poppers, chicken nuggets, and mozzarella sticks. While this delightful little ritual took place, Erik and I joined my family at Gramma and Boppa's house here in town. My grandmother, aunt, uncle, and aunt's sister met us there. We watched the Beavers beat the Ducks but had a pleasant evening anyway. I took Erik home at the end of the evening and put him to bed. I turned on my crime shows and waited for Brian to get home safely, which he did.

We celebrated a belated Thanksgiving today with my family. I prepared cranberry salad and poured it into a cut crystal bowl that was a wedding present. This morning Brian and I created the yam balls we saw on the Food Network (Paula Dean) last week. We baked some yams, mashed them, seasoned them with orange zest and nutmeg, wrapped them around marshmallows, and rolled them in coconut, sugar, and cinnamon. We took our goodies over to my folks' house. Everything was going swimmingly until my mother's normally reliable 30-year-old oven decided it had cooked its final Thanksgiving dinner. Things were a little dicey after this point. The yam balls were whisked outside and ended up on the barbecue. The rolls found a home in the convection/microwave oven. The turkey temporarily went from bake to broil. There were beads of sweat shed, an unanswered distress call made to the neighbor, plan Bs hatched, and whiskey poured. I saw my parents giggle in the kitchen like I haven't seen in a long time, especially in face of culinary disaster. My father took several alarmingly aggressive axillary readings of the poor turkey's temperature while my mother wondered aloud how much heat was escaping each time the oven door was opened. Finally, seeing looks of approval and relief from my parents after one final temperature check, I glanced at the clock and called time of death.

Thanksgiving was officially ON.

The yam balls came back inside, the rolls emerged out of the little convection oven, and the cranberry slurry was presented (one year the gelatin in the cranberry salad did not solidify, and we have called it "slurry" ever since). After working hard to entertain everyone present, Erik sat back and enjoyed mashed potatoes, yam balls, and bread with the family. However, he immediately ejected a bite of turkey and made a stinky face. Maybe next year.

After our afternoon feast, most of the group headed back over the mountain after hugs and goodbyes. Brian and I picked up the debris field of toys and were given a generous portion of leftovers to enjoy at home. I have since been napping under a blanket with my feet on Brian's lap in front of the USC/Notre Dame game while Erik does circles around us with his Fisher Price corn popper. Just a couple months ago he couldn't even pick the thing up by himself and maneuver it around. Now he will use it for 30 minutes straight and make a loop through the entire house. It's loud. It's obnoxious. It's music to my ears to hear that toy being propelled by our son. He pushes it so fast that his head bobs up and down like an old black and white movie that was recorded at an unnaturally high speed.

I read a blog today about celebrating the holidays for the first time after innocence has been stripped away. This woman's daughter had cancer last year, and she is seeing the holidays in a new light. It really struck a chord in me, as I have been thinking a lot about that lately. Everything looks and feels different now, especially the holidays, which are a time of reflection for me. With the new dreams that are slowly replacing the ones that were cruelly destroyed by Erik's syndrome comes a sharp-toothed fear that bites into me, especially when I am alone, and makes me feel like I am 10 years old all over again. I realize how temporary everything is and that absolutely nothing is guaranteed, fair or not. I realize now that the schmaltzy saying that "each day is a gift" rings true. The holidays, including potentially difficult family dynamics and failing appliances, are no exception. It's all good. No matter what happens tomorrow, I hope everyone around me near and far knows how thankful I am they are in my life today. I am especially thankful to have the privilege of being Erik's mother. His life is a miracle in itself, and I will never take a single beat of his heart for granted.



Blogger Kerry said...

Wow - what a wonderful Thanksgiving you had! What an adorable picture too - As soon as Erik's face popped on the screen I smiled out of his sheer cuteness.

I know what you mean about seeing the holidays in a whole new light. It's schmaltzy, but it's true. Who'da thunk we'd be so cutesy? :)

Hope you hve a nice rest-of-the-weekend. Keep your feet on Brian and rest up.
Love -K

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Erik's gramma said...

My big fear yesterday was that the food would be exceptionally good, and we'll have to repeat it next year... turkey 350 degrees 3 hours, let oven cool, place foil tent over turkey, run on low broil for 1 hour, crank-up-as-far-as-it-goes-we've-nothing-to-lose-another hour! It was a Turkey Day we'll never forget! I'm in my finest hour when I have a house full of family (and yam balls on the barbeque)!

It was fun to introduce Erik to his great aunt and second cousins for the first time and see their immediate enchantment. He was at the top of his form all weekend.
Luckily, for us, the only dysfuncational part of our holiday was the oven! Everyone seemed to enjoy.
I treasure the time we all spent together... and the family prayer at dinner, hands round the table, with Erik's "AMEN" at the end says it all. I hope everyone I've come to know in our WS bloggerland had a similarly super day.

Love, Mom

6:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK OK I am still reading I think that you are going to get a email I have way to much to say :) I LOVE that picture of Eric it is awesome and we even get a peek at the new orange and Blk watch Brian is rocking :) You all have been busy!!

8:26 AM  
Blogger Aspen said...

What a great Thanksgiving Day! We too had a wonderful day of reflection and fun. And of course more food than we could eat!

Funny, Daven played at the piano with his daddy too! Love the story and love the picture. And LOVE you!


1:08 PM  
Blogger Leesa said...

Yeah, holidays can bring out strong emotions all right. Wonderful ones and painful ones. I just pray for those who have lost loved ones this time of year. Nice to read something positive, though.

6:40 AM  

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