Happy Holidays, people. Everyone hanging in there? Everyone eat well? Everyone else drop an f-bomb at breakfast before consuming your first cup of coffee? No? Just me? Anyone else have to return to the scene of the crime next week to repair the door frame through which their seventy pound puppy tried to chew during dinner? That’s probably also just me.
I had three Thanksgiving celebrations, this year, all of them with lovely decorations and overflowing tables and loved ones, and I am quite, quite aware of how fortunate that makes me.
And also, I find the holidays to be difficult, and by last week I was already tired and broke and feeling stretched thin. I revealed over a cheeseburger at the PR that I was totally, totally disheartened about the state of the 2013 to-do list, and told Veronica and PJ that I was pretty sure that we were going to juuuuuust miss our target. Things had fallen by the wayside, and either I was going to have to run around on my December Saturdays checking off list items which I found uninteresting, or it wasn’t going to happen. Nobody wants to go visit lemurs when it’s 28 degrees out. Nobody’s camping at the Devil’s Tramping Ground two weeks before Christmas. In no scenario was I getting on a segue.
Arguments that we were “close enough” were not persuasive. “I’ll feel like a failure,” I told them. It was mentioned that we could just roll the unaccomplished list items over into next year’s list, and I can’t remember exactly what I said, but something about Under No Circumstances am I dragging everyone through this again. I was a teacher for a whole decade so I am qualified to orchestrate a crazy to-do list and cajole people into getting it done, but although it’s a fun way to spend time with all your friends, it’s not necessarily the best way to KEEP all your friends. They’ve all been good sports, but I’m only willing to badger people I love relentlessly for a finite amount of time. They deserve a rest. I was prepared to let it go. I’m not going to lie, though. I was feeling a fair amount of disappointment.
So a bunch of us gathered for the annual Friendsgiving dinner, and it was just perfect. We made it through a lovely dinner, because it’s a crowd of really good cooks, and there was a whole buncha champagne, and a good time was in progress for all concerned. There were too many dishes to list, but Veronica and Jason’s brussels sprouts roasted on the stalk stole the show. Conversation got louder at dessert, and then just plain raucous, and then quieted down a little. Someone brought up The List. Someone else mentioned that, in the last five days, word had already spread that I had Lost Faith. I went, mumble mumble mumble, it’s all fine, we’ll come close. People started remembering things they said they were going to do. We confirmed that we were Far Too Late for some of them, and it was Far Too Cold Now for others. “I hear,” said Julia, “That you are not even willing to lead Next Year’s List.”
It got quiet for a minute. I said “mumble mumble mumble” and tried to change the subject.
PJ, though. PJ was on fire. PJ is undaunted by mumbling. PJ does not stand for excuses. PJ Gets Things Done. She pulled up the list on her iPhone. “Carolina Chocolate Drops,” she called out. “Someone hand me that speaker,” she said. “It says ‘hear’ Carolina Chocolate Drops, and that doesn’t mean we had to hear them live, and they haven’t come anywhere close. I have them on iTunes. Plug this thing in. CHECK IT.” And we read a few out loud that we’d missed out on, like the annual Rock Paper Scissors tournament, and BOOM. Suddenly there was a white board and a marker and Julia made a bracket, and there we were explaining the rules to the person visiting from Wales, and Julia’s mother, and Jason got up and did some stretches, and everyone started trash-talking, and we just did it. We rock paper scissored over the dessert plates.
I made it to the second round, because I totally KNEW Julia was going to go “rock.” And then I lost to PJ in the second round because I totally KNEW PJ was going to go “scissors,” but she went paper instead. In the end Jason took down JJ, then Veronica beat her husband Jason, and PJ threw something that looked like a gun because she panicked in choosing between scissors and paper, and then Julia’s dad hands-down won. So we gave him a crown and he was a really good sport about that.
Then PJ read down the rest of the list. “Wasn’t someone going to do a hip-hop dance class?” and the guilty parties said yeah yeah yeah we are totally still going to do that, but thankfully Jason stood up and said I GOT THIS and schooled us all, and damn that white boy can dance. So we checked that off too, and a few other things.
The list stands at 93. Which, on a ten-point grading scale, means we made an A, and that’s even before we do the Oakwood walk with cocktails to look at the Christmas lights, and the round of shots we have scheduled for the Wild Turkey lounge. I think we might even be making an A+, by the time it’s all said and done.
In the middle of the shenanigans I watched everyone rock-paper-scissoring and having a huge time, and I turned to Julia and said, “I think y’all have restored my faith in the universe tonight,” and the emotion about that didn’t even have anything to do with my three glasses of champagne. She laughed and said, “You mean, we’ve restored your faith in your friends?”
And I have reasons, some of them fairly solid reasons and some of them made up, to feel responsible for organizing and accomplishing every single item on the world’s to-do list and independently keeping every planet in orbit through the sheer force of my oversight. I am not good at delegating. I am slow to trust. I love teamwork, really I do, especially if it’s something that doesn’t actually count. But for important things? Things like making sure that 2013 turned out to be a lot better than 2012? Things like Achieving What We Set Out To Do? Hard to let go. These people, though- all of the ones there at Thanksgiving, and a bunch more who weren’t- I never lost faith in these people. They have been solid, and committed, and enthusiastic, and exuberant. These are people I trust.
There in the candlelight with champagne glasses clinking and the Carolina Chocolate Drops in the background, I watched Jason climb a chair and do a flying leap and land on the hardwood floor in an elegant hip-hop split, then pop back up again into a spin, as we crossed over from “B+” in to a very solid “A.”
It was a Thanksgiving miracle.