More About Giving Thanks

…and Princess Dora’s Observation…or…When I Started Hurting Myself for My Family…

Yeast rolls
Yeast rolls

Another long post…

So, about 8 months after my homeless shelter epiphany (see previous post), my two youngest kids and I were invited to help provide early Thanksgiving dinner at the shelter. Of course we jumped at the chance because when it comes to helping the less fortunate, my kids understood the assignment. They looked forward to helping people. They would be making lunches, setting tables, and sweeping floors.

I would be providing homemade dinner rolls for the meal…240 of them to be exact.

Now my mother always taught me that sitting while cooking is a No-No, so I stood in my kitchen hand forming twenty dozen yeast rolls, waiting for them to rise, and minding the oven while they baked. Occasionally, somebody would wander into the kitchen and try to take a roll, but I guarded them like a centurion. My back was aching, my feet were burning, and my fingers were stiff, but I did it all in one day and proudly presented them the next day at the shelter.

The next year, I got the bright idea to use muffin tins so take some pressure off of my hands. I made another twenty dozen rolls and again forbade anyone a single roll. I still have twelve 6-up muffin tins somewhere. The following year, I got really smart and made twenty loaves to be sliced when we arrived at the shelter. The loaves were beautiful. They were extra soft and nobody had a bread knife so we sliced as best we could and served dinner with wads of fresh baked bread.

I’m guessing you’re seeing a pattern now. A week before Thanksgiving, I’d work my fingers to the bone preparing bread (I went back to hand rolling) for the homeless, and fighting off vultures trying to get a taste.

Well one year, as my daughter—Princess Dora, she might have been 8 or 9—tried to convince me that she needed to eat a whole pan of rolls to be happy, and that she was feeling sick and that the rolls would be medicinal, all to no avail. Then she finally hit upon the right combination of words.

“You do all this stuff for other people and never do anything for us… for the family.”

Wow…she got me…right in the guilt. I had actually forgotten how thankful I was for the people in my life.

SO…a few days later, on Thanksgiving eve, I baked again. I was still hurting from the previous baking session, so I only did ten or twelve dozen. Then the next day, I put the whole Thanksgiving dinner in 5 slow cookers (that’s for another post, but it worked) and the kids and I set out at 730am, and drove around to all of our family and friends to deliver Thanksgiving bread…and I remembered to leave two dozen at home, too.

Now mind you, I was in urgent care level pain, I was exhausted, I looked like hell, and probably shouldn’t have been driving (definitely not in a raggedy car with four bald tires), but we had a ball. I saw people I hadn’t seen in years and my kids met new cousins and people I grew up with. We had a great breakfast at my sister’s and got a little taste of everybody’s thanksgiving dinner. The kids wished we could’ve stayed longer everywhere we visited.

We got home at maybe 3pm and dinner was ready. Our dinner table conversation was about the people they met…my godmothers, my aunts and uncles, cousins their same ages, my childhood bully (no hard feelings – well maybe a little), and many more. I told them stories and legends and they made plans to visit relatives throughout the year. And then I took pain meds, and slept, and slept, and slept.

Eventually, the homeless shelter gigs fell off, but our tradition of me baking myself to death and then visiting all the family and friends was established. My kids now help with the baking (Princess Dora is 22) so it doesn’t hurt as badly, but it still hurts. We visit whomever is home, eat wherever we land, and leave a bit of homemade love for everyone we’re thankful for.

And yes, I finished baking yesterday morning and I’m still in pain… but I am eternally grateful for my friends and family.

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