I wrote last week about Martha and Mary, and admitted my tendency toward Martha’s mindset when I cook meals. Well, I was challenged to live that out as Thanksgiving approached.
I used to really get excited about preparing Thanksgiving dinner. It was more than just cooking – I loved all the prep too. The first stage, planning, would start right after Halloween. During the first couple of weeks in November I’d pour over cooking magazines for new recipe ideas. I didn’t really need to, since my husband and kids wanted pretty much the same dishes every year. But looking at all the pictures inspired me.
The next stage was list-making, and boy was I good at that part! I’d categorize and prioritize, cross-referencing ingredients until I had a full shopping list. Then I’d map out a schedule for cooking, baking and roasting.
Like a well-oiled machine, I set to work. Monday was cranberry sauce and chopping up veggies for the stuffing I made on Tuesday. By Wednesday evening, the pies were baked and the turkey was pre-cooked. Everything sat ready in stacked Tupperware containers, a checkmark next to every dish on my list. And I would feel equal parts satisfaction and exhaustion.
Last year, though, things changed. It was actually during my usual session of celery and carrot cutting when my wrists started to hurt. I decided to push through the discomfort, but by the time I got the stuffing together the enjoyment was fading. The meal came out about as good as others had, but I was in pain.
This year I knew I had to scale back. But as I walked down the grocery store aisles lined with all sorts of mixes and packages, I felt my heart sink. Each possibility of a yummy thing to make my family and guests beckoned me. But I knew there would have been too much stirring, chopping or grating for my joints. Lifting up little prayers for strength, I kept walking.
Letting go of my old all-encompassing approach was hard. Not to be over dramatic, but I felt a sense of loss about making changes to such a familiar ritual. And I was afraid of letting people down.
I shouldn’t have worried. Because in the end, I felt better and that helped everyone have a better time. And I got to have more of Mary’s experience, which I should have been focusing on anyway. All in all, it was a good trade.