The morning before Thanksgiving, I met up with my best girlfriend and her mom for a heart-pumping, body-thumping, Zumba session led by our favorite instructor and gal pal. In between songs, my friend let loose on how much the holiday was stressing her out. It was her first time hosting the big turkey feast, which can turn any great mom/wife/host/cook tense. She was overwhelmed, and rightly so.
“Girl, you should kick back and watch a National Lampoon holiday movie. Things are bound to go wrong. And you just have to roll with it and laugh it off,” I tried to help turn her around. “The holidays are stressful, but think about the time you have with the people you love.”
“That’s good advice,” my friend laughed. And back to shaking it we went.
Side bar: It’s funny how “going out to dance” has changed in the past decade. In our twenties, late-nights, after waitressing with a pocket full of cash, we’d hit up the coolest clubs in Chicago, like Zentra, Red Dog, and Crobar, sporting skirts and high heels. Now in our thirties, we “go out to dance” on Wednesday mornings in our sports bras and gym shoes with our children in tow. Anyway…
At the next water break, we talked about how we both desperately needed a girl’s night out. Then agreed to make the most of our time together in the present moment, at Zumba, releasing our stress through sweat and song. Let it be the kick-off to a fun-filled, festive holiday. Let it be a time to appreciate our bodies and the movement we make. Let it be a time to celebrate our almost 20 years of friendship. And let there be a delicious breakfast with fresh coffee afterwards, with the sweetest little people we know and love, our children.
And, that, my friends, is how I jinxed myself for festive failure. It was like I was forewarning myself to take my own advice. As if I looked into a crystal ball, seeing the 4:30pm Thanksgiving Day version of myself- the usual, slightly-panicked and strongly-impatient perfectionist I become within the hour before our guests arrive.
Un-showered and totally in-the-raw, I had thirty minutes until our guests, my husband’s side of the family arrived, until the turkey had to come out of the oven, and until the bacon-wrapped pecan-stuffed dates were ready for munching. The toddler was about to stir from her nap. My helpful husband asked what he could do, and I suggested he get the acorn squash cut and ready for the oven. Now, those suckers are tough to cut into, and I didn’t want my honey getting hurt, so I demoed how to delve into the squash.
Awe, what the heck, I’ll just stay at the cutting board and keep chucking away at the squash, I thought it would be easier to do myself than explain the whole process to my husband. Then, slice. Right into my thumb. This was my second cut of the day. I cleaned it off, wrapped it with a Hello Kitty Band Aid, and started to peel potatoes.
Until I saw blood dripping onto the floor.
I went to the sink, held the wound under running water, and needed a little medical advice. So, I called my dad, the paramedic. My folks spend the holiday in Minnesota visiting my sister, so he wasn’t around. I knew he would appreciate being on-call for this small emergency, with it giving him something to do and the feeling of being helpful and all. I described the cut to him and took his advice to bandage up the wound with gauze and tape. He also suggested I get my butt to the urgent care to get stitches, which was out of the question, as now, in 15 minutes, the turkey, the dates, the toddler, the guests, and the shower were all my priority. His best advice, though, the one piece of information that I was sure to follow? Don’t stick my thumb into dirty dishwater. Stay away from scrubbing. Keep the cut dry and free from infection. Yes, sir. No dishes for me? No problem. You better believe hearing that made me feel a little bit less stressed.
Gauze and tape, gauze and tape, gauze and tape. My husband and I searched the bathroom. No gauze or tape. I went through all of our boxes in the closet, one-handed, until finally, my husband found 3 pieces of gauze in the kitchen cupboard. Phew. Because there was no way Hello Kitty could cover this cut. And for the tape? Duct was all we had.
Of course, my husband is the type that just about passes out when he sees blood, so I tried to clean the cut and keep the bleeding to a minimum by putting pressure on the area. We quickly came up with a crisis plan involving paper towels, anti-biotic cream, gauze, duct tape, and teamwork. In no time at all, we took care of the cut.
At this point, I took a nice, hot shower, blew out my hair, applied a hint of make-up, threw on a black dress and leopard leggings, slipped in some big round copper earrings, dressed our little girl, and headed downstairs to host the feast. I felt refreshed, regardless of the clunky-looking situation of gauze and duct tape on my left, now blue-topped, thumb. At least I had a good conversation starter. Family was already downstairs, setting the table, putting out the appetizers, and doing the whole holiday thing.
Just before dinner, when we changed the gauze, blood greeted us by pouring out of my thumb. Two hours since the slice, and it was still going. My dad had been keeping up with texts and calls, urging me to go get some stitches. I could tell he was happy to be involved in the whole debacle. But there was no way I was going to miss enjoying the big meal that we had worked so hard to put on the table. And plus, there was no telling how long I would be at the place , and I had to fill my hungry belly. So, we re-wrapped my thumb and sat down to eat.
Eventually, Thanksgiving night, I drove to the urgent care and got my thumb stitched up. The only time I had stitches was after the delivery of our daughter, so I told the doctor I didn’t want to watch it go down. She made me lay down, probably judging me to be a big baby. Just as the doc came at me with a huge needle of numbing solution, I tried to channel my energy away from my thumb. A deep breath in, and holy cow, a forceful sigh out, to relieve the intense pain of the shot, using breath as my fortress. A few minutes later, I was all stitched up and ready for the festivities to continue.
So, you may be wondering, did I cry? Did I stress? Did I melt-down? Maybe for a minute, as I headed out for the hospital, but for the majority of the day, no. I heavily swore after the incision, but no tears from the cut. I didn’t freak out, I just tried to roll with it. The whole day, I had thought about what I told my friend at Zumba the morning before- that things will go wrong at the holiday. They just will. And we have to laugh them off. We just do.
I blamed the cut on the squash, my husband pointed out it was because of my impatience. I guess it was a combination of the two. But, even considering my story of the squash and two stitches, I’d say Thanksgiving went well.
Here’s to holiday cheer & a fantastic and festive season!