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MARY IN HER ELEMENT

Mary and I are different people. This probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows us but it sometimes surprises me. Think about it – haven’t we all heard those words that are meant to reassure: “We may be different on the outside but on the inside we’re all alike”? Or that wildly popular Disneyland ride, Small World where you emerge from the tunnel after being subjected to fifteen minutes of intense propaganda by a chorus of children who insist our commonalities far outweigh our differences?

And yet, I can only watch in bewilderment as Mary works herself into a delirium of pre-Thanksgiving fervor each year planning the Big Meal. She watches weeks of cooking shows on TV. She thumbs through her voluminous recipe collections looking for new ways to prepare familiar dishes. She buys stacks of food magazines hoping to find the perfect dessert. She rises early on several consecutive days before Thanksgiving to cook and bake and roast all day long. On Thanksgiving she washes dirty dishes for hours. And all this effort comes not from a sense of obligation. She loves doing it! I have never seen her more content than when she is slaving away in the kitchen in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

And I? Well, I’m happy for her. I’m glad preparing a big meal for our extended family gives her such fulfillment but I can only gape in wonder at the spectacle of it all.

Our difference is not over the acknowledged sentiment behind a day of giving thanks; no, we both appreciate the charmed life we are living: we have each other, we are free of debt, we own our house, we are in good health, we have loving families. We have much to be thankful for and we know it. That’s not the part of Thanksgiving I’m talking about. I’m talking about the festivity of Thanksgiving and how much Mary loves getting her hands dirty, so to speak, as she carefully puts this feast together each year for our family. I’m afraid if the family depended on me, Thanksgiving would be at most a pizza and root beer party – preferably at someone else’s house.

They say that old married couples become more and more alike as they wander off into old age. Judging by our different perspectives on preparing the Thanksgiving feast I’d say we’re still quite young.

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