The twins are getting their B’nai Mitzvah date soon. They’ll have their Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah together, which is pluralized to B’nai Mitzvah. Our shul allows the parents to have some input on the date as long as it falls within some guidelines, so we picked a bunch of days that had emotional significance. Or really, not the date itself but more the section of the Torah that will be read on that date. We chose moments from the Torah that we thought tied in to who they are and avoided any mention of the matriarch’s wonky uteruses.
There are two ways to look at this. One is with mind-blowing but ultimately ecstatic wonder: “How could it be that we finally reached this point! What a wonderful thing to now have B’nai Mitzvah-aged kids!” The other is with mind-blowing but ultimately morbid wonder: “How could it be that we’re this old? That they’re this old? Time is rushing by too quickly, and there is no way to slow it down.” It’s probably not a surprise that I fit more in the latter category, though I’m busying myself so it appears more like the former one. I’ll be the one helping them learn their Torah portion and the requisite prayers, partly for their sake and partly to keep myself focused vs. wallowing in that morbidness.
I think the same thing every Thanksgiving. Really, every holiday, but I’m listing Thanksgiving because today is Thanksgiving. I’ll think to myself, “well, Mel, you probably only have 40 more Thanksgivings. That’s if you’re lucky and live that long. Maybe you only have 20 left. Or 10. Or… gulp… 1.” Even 40 itself doesn’t sound like a big number. Maybe I’m just greedy, but 40 M&Ms? That’s not a lot of M&Ms. 40 pennies? What can you buy with that? I know how fast a year goes. 40 doesn’t sound like a lot.
I go through stages where I am aging gracefully and realistically. But right now I’m in that valley between those stages where I devolve into anxiety about growing old. About everyone I love growing old, too.
It’s terrible to put so much pressure on this one day. I remember the first Thanksgiving we had with the twins. They were only 4 months old. Still on heart monitors, howling their way through the meal. We finally gave up and took them home early, and I sat in our kitchen and cried because it was 365 more days until the next Thanksgiving, and we had just wasted one.
There was another way to look at it. I could have shrugged and said, “well luckily we get to try that again in 365 days, and I’m sure it will go better.” But I didn’t. I just cried about it.
I guess I’m trying to be more like that person who recognizes that Thanksgiving rolls around every year, so if we don’t get it right one year, we get another shot 365 days later. I’m not denying who I am; I think I have this trait as part of my personality. It’s just usually swallowed by the much louder, pushier, siren-like side of my personality that is always thinking: danger danger danger.
So I’m pushing some food into that side of myself and gently saying, “Be quiet for once.” Just for once. Not forever. I just don’t want the whole day to get away from me, coloured by worry. No gloominess for 24 hours. At least.
If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today, I hope that the day matches the image inside your heart. I hope that even if it isn’t perfect that it comes close to what you want it to be. And barring that, I wish you the perfect cup of tea to get through the day. I would have wished you alcohol, but somehow this day feels more like it needs the comfort of tea.