I’m lolling in a post-Thanksgiving-supper stupor. Here in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving the second Monday in October, so today is the absolute earliest that a second Monday would happen. Frankly, Thanksgiving got here before I was ready.
This year it was my turn to cook. Supper was scheduled for five-thirty. About two o’clock the inevitable question arose.
Do we have enough food?
Enough food for what? Feeding the Army of Northern Virginia? Withstanding a siege in the Thirty Years War? Having so many leftovers that the refrigerator seems fuller after the meal than it did before?
As it turned out we had just enough for a tableful of companionable people who were more interested in each other and in good conversation than in massive servings on huge plates. Everyone ate their fill. Leftovers totaled enough food to make a satisfying lunch for one person—we sent that home with one of the guests—half a jar of homemade cranberry jelly, and 2/3rds of a bottle of green olives.
That’s my kind of Thanksgiving.
Which got me thinking about “just enough.”
Ever see those joke snakes in a can? Pull the top off and a spring-wound tube explodes out. That’s what life has felt like since I retired earlier this year. For over a decade I worked a job that involved evening shifts and working every other weekend, which was a bummer as far as my social life was concerned. There was this really high conflict between times I wanted to play and times I had to go to work. I felt lucky if I managed one fun thing a month.
Freed of schedule constraints, I exploded out of the can like that snake. I’ve averaged between 12 and 15 fun things every month, ranging from coffee with a friend to a full-blown three-day convention. The last week in September everything imploded. I raced from commitment to commitment and fell into bed each night wondering who that stranger was sleeping next to me. “Just enough” disappeared from my life.
I’d had a notion this might happen. I have a long history of over-committing. My sig other calls it “quart in a pint pot.” I’d been careful not to make long-term promises like running for office or applying to teach a year-long class—that was a close one. On the day my application was due a voice in my head said, “Wait.” I listened to that voice.
A small part of me is sad that I can’t continue accepting every invitation with unbridled enthusiasm. A larger part of me knows I have to slow down, trim my wings, and get back to putting the writing first. Fortunately, the weather is likely to co-operate. Pretty soon it’s going to get dark and cold here. The idea of popping out for coffee is a lot more appealing when it doesn’t involve multiple clothing layers, ice grips, and shoveling/scrapping snow and ice off the car windshield. I’ve turned around and am heading back toward “just enough,” an idea that gives the stranger sleeping next to me hope that we'll have time for more than sleep. I suspect the journey back will be every bit as much fun as the journey out.
Happy Thanksgiving. I am very grateful for all of you in the writing and reading community.
Quote for the week:
A community is only being created when its members accept that they are not going to achieve great things, that they are not going to be heroes, but simply live each day with new hope, like children, in wonderment as the sun rises and in thanksgiving as it sets.”
~Jean Vanier, Canadian Catholic philosopher and humanitarian.