Typical, helpful chaos

 My daughter Maggie called Thursday night to see how our Thanksgiving had gone. Eight months pregnant, she had decided to skip the 3-hour drive to Avoca this year and stick closer to home, spending the day with Luke’s family. Can’t say I blame her for that one.

“How did everything go? Did you guys have a nice dinner?” she asked.

“The usual chaos,” I replied.

She just chuckled, because she knows exactly what I mean.

I love the Thanksgiving chaos my family creates. It would make me crazy if I had to do it every day of the year, but there’s something about that day — everyone packed into the kitchen, many hands helping, the dog sticking close by in case something hits the floor and the door opening and closing as people bring in more stuff.

It was gratifying to see both of my young men pull their shoes on the moment they saw their grandparents pull into the driveway so they could rush out and help carry things in. No more having to remind them. It just gives a mom a warm, fuzzy feeling when you notice all those years of badgering manners into them actually worked.


At one point I was mixing up a batch of sesame seed dip to go with the beer bread squares I had made, and the rubber scraper slipped off the side of the bowl, splattering little blobs of dip at the feet of my youngest son Matthew and his college buddy Caleb.

“Way to go, Mom!” Matt teased, then backed away when I handed him a paper towel to wipe it up. “Oh no, you did it, you clean it up.”

Of course, as I was on my hands and knees cleaning up the mess and surrounded by four people ages 18 to 20, my neighbor Michelle walked in the door, closely followed by my co-worker Ana. As I struggled to my feet (why is up always so much harder than down?) Matt broke down and grabbed another paper towel.

“Geez, you missed half of it,” he grumbled as he wiped up the floor.

My husband Eric has graciously offered to peel the potatoes that morning, basically so he could get out of any chores once football started. I left the mashing chore to Ana, who is younger and has more endurance than I do. Nick was in charge of gravy, and Jess helped out pretty much everywhere.

We jammed nine people around a table built for six and ate until we were ready to burst.

Jess had brought two beautiful pies — banana cream and chocolate — so there was no shortage of dessert, just a shortage of space to put it after a big, wonderful, chaotic dinner that included a lot of laughter and food. Matt somehow ended up on dessert duty, trying to figure out who wanted what kind. I had made pumpkin pie, my mother had brought a chocolate cream cake to celebrate my sons’ birthdays a bit early, and Ana had brought a chocolate pastry cake.

While Matt dished out pie, my mom and Ana helped me put leftovers into containers (I had actually planned ahead and reorganized my storage containers a few days before). Nick and Jess bussed the table the whole time, and everyone helped in the loading of the dishwasher, so by the time I sat down to nibble at a piece of pie, the kitchen was pretty much clean. Nick had even wiped down the table.

I missed having Maggie and Luke there, but hopefully they’ll come next year with my grandbaby in tow.

All day there was a lot of bumping into each other, reaching around each other and teasing each other, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I love the helpful chaos.

Of course, by the time everyone left and it was down to me, the husband and the dog, we all breathed a sigh of relief and settled into our turkey comas without much of a fight.

For the chaos, the clutter, the helping hands and the quiet moments afterward, I give thanks.

One thought on “Typical, helpful chaos

  1. It’s wonderful. We had chaos too, 16 people, extra chairs from the church, people hustling and bustling all over the place. Finally everyone is seated, all got plenty of food, and the conversations started. The first Thanksgiving without grandpa. The transition goes on, we add a new baby, say goodbye to grandpa, but through it all we find many things for which we can give thanks.

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