Friday, November 28, 2014

Giving Thanks and an Affirmation

I had taken the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, off so that we could have a long, four-day weekend. This was supposed to be the weekend we finally went to see the Taj Mahal, but as our townhouse in Florida still has not sold and money is tight, we planned a less ambitious--but no less adventurous--trip.

We were going to drive six hours south to the town of Tranquebar, the site of an old Dutch fort beside the sea. After spending a day there, we were going to drive another two hours to Thanjevur to see an ancient temple.

Last Sunday night, Elise and I went to a couple's cooking class for a friend's birthday. We made chicken tikka and butter chicken, and it was actually really, really fun, but that morning I had gotten up at 4:30 to go for an eight mile run. When I got home, Elise left at 6:00 for a photo walk through the Koyambedu flower market. I napped. Elise didn't. The date event didn't start until 7:00. After three hours of cooking we still hadn't eaten, and both Elise and I were cross-eyes with exhaustion, hunger, and about to pass out from the cooking fumes.

We made it through the night, but I would have my second of what would be three upset stomachs in two weeks. And we started what was--thankfully--a short week sick, exhausted, irritated, frustrated, short with the kids and, frankly, needing a break from Indian food.

The last thing either of us felt like doing Thursday, Thanksgiving morning, was to get up early and pack everyone up for a four-day road trip while they ran around us, screaming, crying and fighting.

We scrapped the six hour drive, and decided just to go to the beach for one night, but by then, all the hotels were booked.

So, we ended up staying home.

It was exactly what the doctor ordered. We've been staying home a lot lately. After a chaotic week of work and school, no one really wants to leave the oasis that is the compound on which we live, pool, tennis court, playground. We have everything we really need right here, and for that we are extremely grateful.

I made waffles. Clementine and I went for a "turkey trot". We swam and napped.

We don't really have a Thanksgiving tradition. Yet. Last year, we had just arrived in India. We had only been here one week before Thanksgiving, and the head of my office was kind enough to host several families for a Thanksgiving dinner. The year before that, in Brasilia, we went out to Porcao for churrasco.

This year, Elise prepared a simple, but stupendous Thanksgiving spread. The turkey had a hint of Indian spices thanks to Rita, and Elise cooked it perfectly without the help of our meat thermometer which I melted brewing beer. Cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beans, mashed white sweet potatos (boniato), and biscuits rounded out the feast. The kids were impressed. Sam could not stop raving about the spread.

Everyone was forced to say what they were thankful for. Sam--family. Peter--food. Me--you (looking at Elise). Elise--family. Clementine refused to participate, so we urged her to just say something, anything. All she wanted to do was eat, so she pointed to her mouth, which was good enough for us.

Earlier in the day, the kids and I were going to run to the gourmet market for ice cream to go with the pie. We decided not to go. Clementine went into hysterics. She misunderstood and thought we were going out for ice cream cones. We did get into the car and run to the corner store in search of ice cream and a new meat thermometer to no avail. It was rush hour, and I wasn't about to attempt the across town trek to Amadora, the best ice cream store in town. So, we decided to have it delivered.

An hour and a half later the delivery guy finally called. Right as we were sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner. He didn't speak English, so I ran out to the road to get one of the security guards to talk to him and give him directions. My Tamil's not that good.

He called four more times before finally showing up. I was certain the ice cream would be melted, but--surprisingly--it wasn't. I wouldn't try this in June, however.

With Thanksgiving behind us, the kids thoughts immediately turn to Christmas and the boys' birthdays. Honestly, there thoughts had been on Christmas and their birthdays before Thanksgiving.

I've been giving the kids a crash course in super-heroes. I started them on late '70s/early '80s Super Friends cartoons from my youth. When we go out to breakfast, I tell them origin stories to keep them entertained until the food comes. "How did Barry Allen become Flash?" "How did Hal Jordan become Green Lantern?" Who knew this seemingly useless information would come in so handy? Peter especially is getting good at the game where I say the civilian alter ego and he names the super-hero. "Bruce Wayne." "Batman!" "Dr. Bruce Banner." "Hulk!" So, now I am filling my own kids' heads with the same useless information.

Peter has taken a keen interest in Green Arrow and races around the house with an imaginary quiver and bow flinging arrows at everyone and everything he sees. I had an epiphany that the perfect Christmas present would be a Nerf bow and arrow set, but I was afraid Elise would kill me. She is feeling a little shell-shocked from all the imaginary phasers, photon torpedoes, and ion cannons going off around her. She swears she is going to have PTSD by the times these kids grow up with all the shooting noises and imaginary spaceships going to warp in the house.

But the other day when I came home from work, she asked me if I had looked in the Amazon cart. I said, "No. Why?" I went on my computer and opened it up. She had put the same Nerf bow and arrow set that I was looking at in the cart to buy for Christmas. 

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