Just as I sat down to write (this, after looking through sixty pages of Emmy looks on Yahoo), Brenner marched down the stairs to my mommy-nook for a cuddle in my desk chair. It's clear that blogging has been bumped down the priority list the last couple weeks, and this is among the many reasons. Let's list them: 9/11 and planning for it, Gabi's birthday and planning for it, the beginning of school and adjusting to that schedule, the addition of an au pair to our home, and the fall garden's emptiness being less than a source for interesting storytelling, and an odd desire to sleep past five a.m.
Whew! There's so much going on, yet not much food to talk about or time for writing. Pity. While the focus of Wishful Thanking Farm is intended to be about food and backyard gardening, I've been thinking about it more broadly this past week. Do I have to limit the topics to what I can put on the dinner table? I learn so much from the quiet, organized, peace of those plants, but I take those lessons into the rest of my life, too. In that way, I suppose the rest of my life is pertinent and I should give up the self-imposed guilt and rigidity. My writing is to remind myself of my dreams yet to come and to have gratitude for those already fulfilled.
My oldest son, Gabi, turned ten on Saturday. I can't believe he's in double-digits and my little baby is so big. Sometimes I hold him in my lap, cradle-style, and wrap my arms around his head like it's an infant. But, his legs are stretched out across the couch, and there's no denying he's growing up. What wonderful boy he is, too!
As much as I would have loved to take Gabi and his friends to a local farm for the day, or maybe go apple-picking, that would have been a party for me. Fifth grade is all about being cool, and I'm afraid to say that gardening misses the mark with this age-group. Oh, they all loved the novelty of the chickens, but I couldn't have built a party around them.
I did manage to maintain my values and have a pretty kick-butt party at home by getting creative. I relied on my community of friends and borrowed an outdoor movie projector, an extra tent, some speakers, and a couple folding tables. For fifty bucks, the party store had a bunch of movie-themed decorations that I can reuse for the other kids' parties. Chad tucked a king-sized sheet into the top of our garage door to make a screen, we pulled the mini-van and SUV out so the kids could sit in the "way-back." And, we set up a snack-stand, complete with tickets for purchasing popcorn, candy and soda. Yes, I did at least make the popcorn on the stove.
Finding a movie for twenty ten-year-olds to watch together was a trial. We need to have a moment of honesty here... My son watches PG-13 movies full of terrible language. This is one thing I've just had to give up on at home and when he's at friends' houses. There just aren't very many interesting movies that keep the language clean. Still, I could hardly show any Will Ferrell movie, which would have been the preferred selection without getting calls from mothers wishing to wring my neck for publicly condoning such material.
Then, Gabi suggested Monty Python's Holy Grail. Hallelujah! (so to speak) To my great astonishment, it is only rated PG. And, the kids loved it. A few boys couldn't sit still for a moment, but for the most part, I've never had such an easy time containing so many boys and still having a good time.
A few kids went home, but most of them piled into tents in the backyard where I discovered my Collie-Retriever Mix had chewed a hole in my friend Samantha's tent. Not a big one - but enough that my party became about a hundred dollars more expensive by virtue of replacement cost. Oh well! I now have two tents, and Samantha has a brand-new one.
But, I digress!
With two boxes of Dunkin Donuts in their tummies, and a latte in mine, we all settled on the family room sectional to open gifts. I love watching the faces of the gift-givers as the guest-of-honor tears into the paper. There's such anticipation! "Will he like my gift?" they ask inside their heads. I swear I can see the question on their faces. And, when Gabi lights up to see the game or gift-card or autographed baseball, there is relief and joy. So, another old-time value I maintain from my own childhood is refusing to open gifts after the party and then write thank-you cards. Rather, my kids get practice in displaying their gratitude in person, and the guests have the experience of knowing their gifts actually mean something.
I guess the point is that I won't always be able to bake a cake a from scratch, but the cake isn't really the point. The values I hold in my heart about caring for my world and my people are what matter. And, with a little creativity, I can live a life of meaning - even with a store-bought cheesecake.
WISHES AND THANKFULS
I am thankful for my little boy, Gabi, and for the decade of his life I have been privileged to witness. I am thankful that he is happy and proud of his party - that his friends thought it was awesome - because this matters to him. I am thankful for friends who are willing to lend me their things and don't get angry if my dog chews a hole in something.
I wish to remember that home-grown doesn't always refer to food. I wish for our own outdoor movie projector because that was so much fun! September is personally busy for me, and the holiday season starts with Halloween. So, I wish that in these few weeks of reprieve I can indulge in some quiet joy.