Some Thanksgiving reflections

On November 9, 2006, Joe and I left the Manchester airport on the biggest adventure of our lives to date.  We were on our way to China to meet our daughter, Anna.  She was a beautiful, frightened, angry little girl, and it was a real challenge to learn to like her and for her to learn to like me, but after almost a year, we won each other over, and we are now inseparable. 

Exactly one year later, November 9, 2007, we arrived again on US soil in Newark, NJ, with our son, Will.  He’s a much different child, older, more outgoing, more cheerful.  He hides his fright and grief behind a cheerful, defensive facade, and we only see the sadness in him at night.  It will take time for him to integrate fully into our family, but he has made a fine start.

Anna and Will get along well at this point, and I have high hopes that they will be close siblings throughout their lives.  I know there will be fights and tears, anger and estrangements along the way, but as the children of older parents, it will be so wonderful for them to have each other in the future, when Joe and I are gone. 

Joe and I are so blessed to have been allowed to become a family of 4 within a year’s time, and to have 2 beautiful, healthy, smart, good-natured children.  We never could have expected to have achieved that all by ourselves.  We made choices early in our married life together to pursue careers rather than family, and had no right to be so lucky to have these two after we became middle-aged fogeys.  They are a gift to us, and we have to thank the good Lord, our friends and family, our social worker and our agency, and the People’s Republic of China for being so gracious as to allow us to bring two of their most precious children home with us so we could become a family.  I hope that someday they will be able to see how their children have thrived in our care, and how their unselfishness in sharing their children with us has enriched at least 2 continents.

Now, for some more entertaining reflections (I couldn’t be serious for more than a couple of paragraphs!)  I think, after 43 years, I am finally aquiring a bit of wisdom.  My early mentor here in the north country, Dr. Craig, was a philosopher savant of sorts, and I gleaned a number of helpful hints from him that I have put to use in my home life as well as my professional life.  I will always remember his comment when presented with a proposal from some non-local vets for performing a larger number of low-cost spays and neuters in a day by using corner-cutting techniques and inferior materials.  Craig was incredulous that someone could even think of doing something like that, for many reasons, but the first thing that burst from his mouth was, “Why in the world would I want to work harder to make less money?”  A very good question.  This version of “work smarter, not harder” has infiltrated my life in many ways, but I have to share one manifestation of that I have just discovered. 

For years, I have avoided many of the “pre-made” dishes available at the grocery store, reasoning that they were much more expensive than making things from scratch, and that they were cheating, in a way, since I am perfectly capable of making them without all that help.  These things are, of course, true, but I have finally realized that if I only intend to make one batch of cookies, and the leftover ingredients may well have to be discarded before I decide to bake again, the unit cost of a tub of pre-prepared cookie dough is much cheaper than purchasing all the ingredients. 

So, I got smart this week.  I bought a tub of Nestle Toll House cookie dough for roughly $5, and I made 60 fresh, hot, delicious cookies this morning.  I had no left-over ingredients, and for dirty dishes, I only created a teaspoon and 2 cookie sheets that must be washed.  Incredible!  Bakery cookies at the store are usually about $3 per dozen, so it’s still cheaper than that.   I also bought a SaraLee pumpkin pie for $2, and we baked that this morning.  I couldn’t even begin to buy all the ingredients needed for a pie for that kind of money.  I also discovered that our local grocery store has quite an assortment of side dishes from Boston Market.  All you have to do is put them in the microwave!  Last night we had creamed spinach, garlic roasted mashed potatoes, cream of broccoli soup and chicken tortilla soup, all hot and fresh.  Much cheaper than eating out, and very little work on our part.  I can’t imagine why I didn’t discover all of this sooner.  It would only be easier if someone would deliver the food directly to my house, and stick it in the microwave for me. 

We’re getting ready to see if Pizza Hut is open so we can order our Thanksgiving dinner.  I know, it’s not turkey, but I don’t like turkey anyway.  And the joy of being able to lounge around my house all day in my pajamas certainly beats cooking and entertaining all day.  We’ve still only been in our house 10 nights since we got home from China, and it’s a real treat to have a whole day to ourselves. 

I hope everyone reading this is having just as pleasant a Thanksgiving Day as we are!!!

5 Responses to “Some Thanksgiving reflections”

  1. MOM says:

    Children are a gift from God and a blessing to all the extended families. I have always felt that way about you and your sister. Bill and I were blessed and every thankful for you both.

  2. Charlie's mom says:

    Wishing you folks a very happy Thanksgiving, and glad to hear how well all is going. Yes, you folks are lucky to have gotten two precious, little people, but Anna and Will have also received the gift of your family. Mmmm…pizza does sound good.

  3. Eric says:

    Great post, Billie.

    Thanks for sharing your Thanksgiving with us. We had turkey and all of the usual trimmings, but Wren’s still in her PJ’s.

    -Eric

  4. Carol says:

    Oh I so agree with you sister!! I used to work and worry over meals and now it’s what can we get from a can in 10 mins!! It’s just that having children changes everything!!! WE DON’T HAVE TIME!!!! Or at least I don’t!!!

    I used to hear about people sitting in a bathtub and I thought…..WHAT!!! I get 10 mins max before one of the kids is busting in the bathroom!!!

    But I wouldn’t trade it for a minute!!!!!

  5. Nicki says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I know I am thankful for the kids, too. I love being an aunt, and being an aunt or uncle is something you can’t do yourself. You have to rely on someone else having kids to make you an aunt or uncle, so Tony and I are very fortunate that both our sisters gave the opportunities to be the aunt and uncle we love being. Thanks!!