Posted by: deadmousediaries | November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving Day Tale – another true story from Mitchell Kyd

It was going to be our first Thanksgiving in the new house and I wanted everything to be perfect. Perfect food. Perfect house. Perfect conversation. By the time I hit the forty-eight hour countdown, my vision of a table complete with pressed linens, fresh flowers and a smorgasbord of homemade desserts had already dissolved. I was just hopeful that I’d find a clean tablecloth and eight matching dessert forks.
Our family plan for everyone to chip in with necessary prep work had been torpedoed by my husband’s new job in retail. To make matters worse, a critical work project for me that week had claimed my two days of planned vacation.
By Wednesday night while my husband was selling camping gear as Christmas gifts, my children and I were at home and into full-blown vacuum-mania. I was thankful that a kid’s allowance didn’t constitute a salary as I put my six- and eight-year-old to work, defying gravity and violating all child labor laws. For my part, I was swooshing around in the toilet bowl, headed for a meltdown. I started ticking off all the ways my holiday was falling short as if it were a long list of personal injustices.
It was only Wednesday and already too late. In my perfect Thanksgiving, there wasn’t going to be any orange zest in my cranberry salad because it hadn’t made the grocery list. There would be no perfect family photos to record the day because I had forgotten to buy camera batteries. The hand towel that matched the new bathroom trim had not been laundered. What if Martha Stewart wandered in?
It was at that moment that I saw it and exploded; it was the last straw. Someone had brought home the wrong toilet paper. Two-ply or not two-ply: that should never be the question.
I don’t remember what my young son had asked me in the midst of my meltdown as he was trying his best to finish the vacuuming. I do remember twisting into that mean and tight mom-face before barking out an angry answer. That combination of sound and fury is a universal signal to kids everywhere that their real mom has just been abducted by aliens and it’s best to duck and cover until she gets back.  But he didn’t.
Instead of darting out of view, my second-grader turned off the vacuum and walked the whole way around the stairwell to face me. He never said a word. He simply wrapped his arms around me for the kind of hug that makes me feel ashamed to this day. My son–my shrink–took a risk to teach me that sometimes we need a hug most when we are least huggable.
It turned out to be a perfect Thanksgiving. The people I loved gathered around my table where a pumpkin covered up last year’s stubborn gravy stain. We dined on just one choice of pie and my dad used a mismatched dinner fork without complaint. My daughter drew a picture of us on a paper plate and for once, no one had their eyes closed in the picture.
I learned a lot from an eight-year-old that Thanksgiving and I’ve tried hard to remember it. As the holidays approach now, I try to celebrate all of our blessings, especially those that come disguised as inconvenience.
If you find a grump circling your Thanksgiving table complaining about her job, his gallstones or her dress size, sidle up and give them all a hug. It might just be what they need most.
Note: This Mitchell Kyd story first appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters, (October, 2010). It is reprinted here with permission. Copyright 2010.  Mitchell Kyd. All rights reserved.



  1. Just as sweet as the first time I read it. Thanks for the return trip.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving. Wishing you peace and happiness.

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