Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thanksgiving Dreams

'Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and all through someone else's house,
My children ran around screaming as I smiled at my spouse.
The smell of Sam's poopy diaper wafted through the air.
With black pens, we signed on the dotted line with great care.
We were buying a new house, one with a yard and tire swing.
I could already see myself hosting some day on Thanksgiving.
On Black Friday, I slinked into the Walmart for packing tape,
When there, in a cart, was clearance turkey napkins and plates.
I bought up the lot with my dreams still in mind
And then tucked them away till it was their moment to shine!

And that was this year.  This year I was privileged to host, for the very first time, the Hatchett Family Thanksgiving dinner.  I spent days prepping and rearranging to prepare for the feast.  Everything had to be perfect, or no one would ever want to come back.  On Monday, my mom brought her long folding table and eight chairs.  On Tuesday, I cooked up a practice turkey breast in the crock pot and toasted up the bread for the stuffing.  On Wednesday, I rearranged the kitchen and living room so the long folding table sat beneath the dining room chandelier, and our small kitchen table was nestled warmly by the fireplace.  On Thursday morning, I arose at half past five to butcher and prep my turkeys before lowering them into the crockpot.  I combined the extra bones and bits with some carrots, onions, celery, and garlic, and covered it in water in my deepest stock pot to create a homemade broth for the gravy.  It simmered for three hours as I set and decorated the table.  In my rush, I forgot to snap a picture, but it looked a little something like this:

Retrieved from:
Except instead of a fine linen tablecloth, imagine a charcoal gray bed sheet folded in half.  Instead of embroidered cushioned chairs, imagine folding chairs.  Instead of heirloom pumpkins and candles, imagine sparkly plastic gourds and leaf garlands from the dollar store.  Instead of a crystal stemware, imagine gold Solo cups, and instead of name cards, imagine names written on those Solo cups with a Sharpie.  Instead of silver cutlery, imagine clear plastic utensils.  Instead of intricate chargers and china, imagine paper plates with pumpkins and turkeys printed on them.  And instead of cloth napkins, imagine paper napkins with a homemade napkin ring made from a plastic leaf hot-glued to a twisty tie. Something like this:

You know, real classy.

One by one, cars pulled into the driveway, and relatives from near and less-near arrived with rolls, salads, potatoes, carrots, pies, and bubbly drinks.  Every item was absolutely scrumptious, and we gorged ourselves until passing out all over the couches was the only option.  After the kitchen was clean and the tables were clear of all the disposable finery, we built a puzzle while telling those same old family stories that never cease to make us laugh.  We nibbled on pies and played games.  A Jimmy Hendrix documentary serenaded the house while the men talked of cars.  Downstairs, a quiet group clicked away on controllers as they battled on an Xbox game.  Annie, Sam, and their favorite second cousin played quietly, moving from one room to the next in an intricate dinosaur game.

When we went under contract for this house just one year ago, I couldn't have imagined of a better day in this beautiful home.  Thanks, Hatchetts!  You made my dreams come true!

Sunday, November 20, 2016


My phone buzzed, and I stretched my legs as I glared at the clock.  Eleven.  Who was texting me at this hour?  My arm emerged from the warmth of my blanket and retreated quickly once my phone was in hand.   Squinting from the burning brightness of the screen, I swiped my passcode and read the notification.  It was from Facebook.  I was being invited to my ten-year class reunion.  It's bizarre to think it's been that long since I played in the pep band at the many losing football games or ate lunch in Room 610 with what modern teens call a "squad."  I laid under the light of the supermoon, staring up at his magnified face, as I thought back on my experiences walking the halls of my high school, faces and names washed over me.  I could feel discomfort from sitting beside my tenth-grade crush as he called me a "shaky chihuahua."  I could taste the white roll my best friend donated to my lunchlessness every day.  I could see the acne of another friend's face and feel my skin crawl at the white eyes that watched me from his cheeks.  I recalled the boy from twelfth-grade English who, after teasing me from across the room for the past two years, was assigned to sit directly in front of me and pass his quizzes back for grading.  Suddenly, he was so kind and treated my like we had been pals all along.  I closed my eyes and breathed in that familiar scent of my AP science class where two best friends welcomed me into their circle and helped me feel less alone because my two best friends graduated the year before.  A pit formed in my stomach as I remembered my first date and the first time holding hands.  I was so anxious then but also flattered that someone may actually like me.  The song he dedicated to me rang in my ears, and I could still see his childish grin.  I could vividly recall reading my angsty poetry to the horrified faces of my classmates and the blank faces of Mr. Park's taxidermy collection.  I smiled at the moon (or the tsuki) as I thought about the notes passed in Japanese and the doodle wars in math class.

There was this guy named Ryan and, for reasons unbeknownst to me, my best friend called him Julie when we passed him in the halls.  His long, straw-like hair was always dyed exotic colors ranging from lime green to hot pink, and he wore it confidently while walking with a slouching swagger.

My statistics teacher asked me to be her teacher's assistant during A4.  While grading papers, a student stole my expensive graphing calculator and scratched my name off the back.  He didn't know about the hidden initials inside the battery case.

Once in Ballroom class, I watched a boy drag his tongue grotesquely across his palms repeatedly and slide them through his unwashed hair during roll call.  When it was time to pick a partner, he chose my best friend.  It wasn't until lunch time when she nibbled on her pizza that I remembered to tell her about the hand-licker.  We were careful to avoid dancing with him after that.

On the Vegas/San Diego band tour, a fellow clarinetist formed an unhealthy attachment to me.  He always sat beside me on the bus, wrote me notes in his secret language, and tried to hold my hand whenever he saw an opportunity.  Only sixteen, I didn't know how to navigate the experience.  I tried to be nice without leading him on, but this backfired, and he was convinced I liked him too.  He never knew how uncomfortable he made me or the lengths I went to avoid him.

I thought of all these people and more while the moon watched with wide eyes and mouth agape.  I studied his craters, trying to memorize the marbled pattern.  The longer I peered at the celestial being, the heavier I felt. I remembered so much, but I couldn't help but wonder what people remembered about me.  Would they look back with fondness at some witty joke I made about Harry Potter in Sociology, or would they remember a snappy remark that I spat through my defensive shell?  Would they remember that I was smart and loved learning or that I was a know-it-all who raised my hand too much?  Was there someone laying in bed looking at their Facebook invitation who remembered sitting beside me in band, or will I show up and sit alone because I was too forgettable?

The saddest thing is I don't which bothers me more, being remembered for my weaknesses or not being remembered at all.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

I'll Be Home For Christmas

We signed the papers for this house the day before Thanksgiving.  I remember the intense nerves that plagued the holiday as we planned a weekend of staging the townhouse for sale. Everything was happening so fast.  Just days before, the thought of moving was the last thing on our minds, and then this home found us, like a gift from God, and we knew that we needed to take a leap of faith.  When I toured the house, I imagined stockings hanging above the hearth, and the rag garland I had just tied draped over the mantle.  I remembered all of the chimney-less years I snuck out of my bed on Christmas Eve to unlock the front door for Santa and realized my children would feel some security that Santa could easily find his way in.

On November 7, 2014, I went to a Relief Society activity with my daughter and left my boys at home. After an hour or two away, I walked through front door to find my Christmas tree prematurely built and lit in the corner of my living room.  My husband turned and smile at my stunned look.  I was raised that the Christmas tree doesn't go up 'til the first week of December and especially not before Thanksgiving.  But there it was, mocking me in the corner.

"Paul, why is there a tree in the living room?" I asked through gritted teeth.

He shrugged.  "Sam and I got bored."

By now, Annie's eyes were as lit as the tree, and her mouth hung open in wonder.  I knew I had already lost a war that had not yet begun, so I kept the tree up, and in the morning, I pulled out the rest of the decorations.  While my initial attitude was sour, I soon fell in love with my festive abode and the way it prematurely shifted my focus to the birth of Christ.  Thanksgiving was not forgotten. I found my heart more full of gratitude when I was surrounded by nativities than fat, brown birds.  So, we made decorating the first week of November a new tradition at my house.

This year was more special though because we finally got to hang our stockings on the mantle.  I made these stockings from this pattern when Sam was a baby. They are blue and zebra to match our old living room. Next year I want to make new stockings in more traditional colors.  I won't be in school, so I'm hoping I will have time.  The Christmas plaque and count-down charger were last year's Relief Society Super Saturday crafts.

The garland was inspired by this post. My mom made one for her fireplace a couple of years ago, and I fell in love with it, so much so that I spent an entire year planning my own garland.  I purchased clearance fabric and LED lights the day after Christmas and saved them for the next fall when I could tie the fabric strips onto the sting whilst enjoying a holiday comedy on Netflix.  I had so much left-over fabric that I bought a wire wreath form and tied a wreath too.  They look adorable in the light of day. . .

But magical in the dark of night.

Blue and green might not be the most traditional holiday color scheme, but since I'm not biggest fan of red, I don't mind. Besides, it matches our living room, so I think it all works somehow.

The kids sure love it.

While our Christmas decor is typically limited to our living room, this year, it spilled into the dining room.  The large passway facilitated extra flourishes to maintain flow.  I found Santa hat chair covers at The Dollar Tree.  THE DOLLAR TREE, PEOPLE!  I have been wanting to make these for years but haven't had the means or time, but when I realized I could have jolly chairs for just four bucks, I squealed with delight and shoved these bad boys in my cart.

On our TV-stand-turned-hutch, I made a snowy scene with Dollar Tree tinsel.  It's giving me all the feels, and I am itching to host a holiday friend party.  Can't you just imagine sitting in Santa chairs arguing over Monopoly?  Yes, please.

I know my decorations are cheap and simple, but they make me incredibly happy.  Every day when I'm preparing meals for my family, I look out over the joyful scene and tear up a little.  I'm so incredibly grateful for this beautiful home that is filled with happiness, laughter, and a spirit of peace. After years of temporary lodgings, I finally feel home for Christmas.