A Week Of Gratitude – Day 3

My husband complains about not getting enough sleep, and I know there are times that he wakes up too early and stays awake. Occasionally he tosses and turns. But at least he knows the delight of consistently getting into the bed, turning off the light, and stopping.

Me? Not so much, lately. Here I am, in the wee hours on the day of my eldest son’s 23rd birthday, prowling around the house while my brainwaves undulate and sizzle with stuff.

Mundane stuff. Stressful stuff. Ideas, memories, plans, things-to-do. Just stuff.

It was a good Friday, a blessed respite after the chaos and joy of Thanksgiving. We ventured out for a little shopping, and I spent a whopping $20, thanks to the fact that I’d left my debit card at home. Shout out to the universe for that gift, as I’m trying to approach materialistic undertakings with a bit more wisdom these days – the kind that says I really don’t need ANYTHING else to wear, to read, or to manage in my life. Navigating a day with careful consideration of the difference between a want and a need is a welcome exercise in spiritual maturity. I think.

So we shopped, and met up with three of my offspring, my son-in-law, my ex-husband and my step-wife (AKA my ex-husband’s wife. I like her.) We came home, and I went to the leftover well not once, but twice, and I gave the cheesecake another try (and found it wanting. It was my first cheesecake, and it was less than brilliant). At that point, I decided to consider it a real holiday, and plopped on the couch to check out The Bodyguard on Netflix. I’ve heard good things, so I thought I’d watch the first episode, and I hate to tell you how long I sat on that couch watching what turned out to be a very engaging show, but looks like I’ll have to find another series to watch tomorrow. B-I-N-G-E. It’s a real thing.

At that point, the day had ended, and I felt properly relaxed and rested. A couple loads of laundry got done in between other slightly less important things; the day was not a total wash. It was an appropriate time to go to bed. TIME magazine in hand, I crawled in beside my already-snoring husband, read long enough to get drowsy, turned off the light and turned down the heated mattress pad, and promptly started the flip-flopping rotation I like to call Why Do My Joints Ache And How Come I Can’t Get Comfortable And This Pillow Is Too Big dance.

After 30 minutes, I remembered that I had skipped part of my nightly routine. I’d brushed my teeth, but neglected to wash my face. Does anybody feel me when I say that crawling in bed without washing my face sometimes makes me feel like I am getting away with something? I mean, seriously? I’m in my fifties; it’s like I’m thumbing my nose at the maternal universe, pouting and saying, You can’t make me! I’m not sure what’s going on there. All those little things your mom teaches you to do because it’s just the right thing to do – like putting the toilet paper on the holder instead of just sitting it on top and twirling it around your hand. Or, speaking of toilets – flushing EVERY time. If it’s in the middle of the night, really? Can’t it wait? How about never leaving a dirty dish in the sink; or always making sure you put a stamp on right-side up? Actually, I don’t remember my mom saying much about all that, but it just seems that there are some common sense understandings that this is how you’re supposed to do things, and when I choose not to do them, I feel rebellious. And a little proud. And a lot like I’m getting away with something.

And at this stage, when I’m essentially all grown up, that’s ridiculous.

And for the record, I know why my joints ache: It’s because I ate two helpings of stuffing today. Glutenous, heavy stuffing. I’ve learned that my body doesn’t like bread, and I suffer when I indulge. That’s likely one of the reasons sleep evades me tonight.

But even with achy joints and the sad knowledge that I’m not going to get enough sleep tonight, I’m perched on a stool in my kitchen at 2:30 in the morning, listening to the soft snoring sounds of the dog, staring at what’s left of the Thanksgiving pies on the counter. There are still two tables set up in the middle of the room, because eleven of the people I’m related to by blood and by marriage gathered here yesterday to share a meal and our ‘thankfuls’. It’s a tradition – when the plates are cleaned, before we start in on dessert, we go around the room for ‘thankfuls’. Everybody gets a moment to express their gratitude. My dad always cries. My boys always surprise me. Every word, out of these mouths that I love, is a gift to me. I see these tables, still slightly cluttered with dishes that will eventually be returned to their rightful places and appliances that need to be tucked away, and I remember the echoes of the words and laughter that filled this house just a day ago.

To be honest, I always like to sit in the wreckage a bit; I’m not one to clean up immediately so it looks like nothing happened. If we celebrate a holiday here, it’s certain you’ll see evidence for a few days afterwards.

That’s the situation tonight, and I think giving myself a moment to assess, remember, and quietly contemplate it all might actually be the key to falling asleep.

Plus I washed my face. Being a rebel isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I’m going to bed.

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