It was about 9:30 last night and my wife plopped down on the couch next to me in our basement. She had this defeated look on her face.
Thanksgiving has always seemed like a chore for us, with either travel or guests or something. Those four days always seemed like less of a chance to recharge and more like something that left us all with an even-more-drained battery.
This year was supposed to be different. We were supposed to be in our new house. We were supposed to be safe at home. We were supposed to be all mellowed.
Some of that worked out in spots. We stayed home this year with my mother-in-law, who moved in a few months back. It was a quiet day, with the smell of turkey floating throughout our house.
Then I heard my kid shrieking and my wife screaming, “I NEED YOU! I NEED YOU! I NEED YOU!”
As I sprinted up the stairs, I heard The Midget crying, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to!”
There is my wife, hands covered in blood, holding my child’s hand straight into the air. The hand was wrapped in a towel, but I could see it soaking with red.
Apparently, scissors and a wad of electrical tape don’t mix. She had slashed through at least three of her fingers.
The next two hours were filled with blood, tears, shots and stitches. The nice man who spoke semi-accented English patched her back together. I offered The Midget my “magic hat,” which was nothing but a ratty Twins cap, but she took it. I used it to shield her eyes from what he was doing to her hand, lest she freak out even more.
By the time we got home, promising our child she could eat all the olives, pie and whipped cream she wanted and nothing she didn’t, it was nearly dinner time. MIL and I pushed The Missus to pare down the grandiose meal to something manageable. The turkey was great, although she cursed up a storm about dryness and her inability to get the gravy to work right. Brussels sprouts were left in the fridge. The bean casserole was “runny,” she fumed. Our good china was still in storage and we ate off our regular stuff. We said grace and began the gorging as we watched Tony Romo get smacked around.
We couldn’t decide on a movie after the second game, but we found “Free Birds,” a cartoon-based Thanksgiving/Owen Wilson vehicle that was better then passable.
I went downstairs to continue the laundry. Shortly after, my beloved came down for a soda and a hug.
“I ruined it,” she began. “What a lousy…” Tears. Exhaustion. Defeat.
It was at that point I became the optimist in the relationship, a rare role for a former journalist. Still, holidays bring some of that out in me, given what I remember of my younger adult days.
“You didn’t ruin anything. That’s where the kid gets this from, by the way. That’s why she’s gushing blood and saying she’s sorry. It’s no one’s fault and everything is fine.”
I didn’t even really realize what I was saying at the time, but it was true. We were fine.
Yeah, the house didn’t sell, but we’re still in a good house. We can afford it and we aren’t being chased by creditors.
Sure, a trip to the emergency room wasn’t part of our plans, but the doc said there was no tendon damage and she seemed fine after the shock wore off. (Except, of course, I had to take all the scissors out of her room, clean them and then hide them so she couldn’t find them. Her rules. I just followed them.)
Yeah, we didn’t have a spread that would rival the Golden Corral, but so what? We were stuffed to the gills. Even more, I remember Thanksgivings at the newsroom, which consisted of a turkey sandwich and some chips that I scarfed down between reports of traffic crashes or “family dispute” shooting calls.
We were warm. We were safe. We were with family. Shouldn’t that be the point?
The Missus smiled and sighed. We hugged.
“By the way,” she began. “I told her she could sleep with me on the pull out tonight because she’s afraid of bad dreams.”
“That’s OK,” I told her. “Take the bed. I’ll sleep out here.”
She gave me that “You’re totally going to fuck up your back” look and then said, “You sure?”
Yeah. Everything’s going to be fine.
It already is.