Thanksgiving weekend feels like a string of Saturdays. Say you don’t like the way the first one’s going—hooray! You get a do-over. Better still, you get two do-overs. And you can separate out all of those great plans lurking in the cobwebbed corners of your brain. You know the ones. Like the idea to write a long overdue letter. Or finally clean the dog beds. Or finish working on the rock wall out back. Or get back to knitting that scarf. Or make a big pot of simmering soup. Maybe some homemade bread. Or just sit around drinking coffee all morning, caring not a fig about the hardly-contained kiddo chaos surrounding you because, hey, you have three Saturdays!
Saturdays have a certain holiness about them. Mine get muddled because I wake up wanting to cram so much into the day. Or I don’t want to cram a thing, but the world—and myself in the world—seem to be conspiring against me, shoving me in half a dozen directions at once. Nothing like conspiring against yourself I always say.
So here’s a synopsis of how the three Saturdays progressed at the Jantz-Estes compound. Names have not been changed to protect the innocent.
Saturday #1 (also known as Thanksgiving Day):
Jonah is up Early. Unaccountably excited about Thanksgiving and obsessed with turkey. Jennifer gets up late. Enters chaotic first floor goings on and needs an hour to recuperate. Food helps. And coffee. Pumpkin cupcakes are made. Garlic-lime marinade for turkey, check. Jonah continues to bounce off the walls, literally. John works on rock wall. Cream cheese frosting for cupcakes is whipped, the beater and bowl sufficiently licked. John prepares two different kinds of (delicious) fresh salsas while Jennifer takes all remaining creatures for a walk. Jonah continues in his ramped up ways, stimming as they go. (Slipping out of third person here for a moment.) I call it his goofy dance, and it’s a collection of behaviors—from crazy body contortions to spitting and laughing maniacally, forehead and face slaps, and the repetition of a word he finds hilarious. Today it was fart. Honestly, I’ve been struggling to accept J’s screwball behavior this weekend. It’s got me thinking about the ways I am still learning to accept him. To accept autism. Reading this post and also this one have been helpful. Also John’s suggestion to think about Jonah in terms of exuberance.
But I digress. Back to Saturday #1. After dropping off the boys and dogs, Jennifer goes for a walk alone to collect herself. Returns home to taste aforementioned amazing salsas and starts the back-to-our-roots puree cooking. John gets the turkey tacos going on the grill and family finally sits down for their very first solo Thanksgiving dinner. Mostly a hit. G is offended to be given plain turkey and carrot/parsnip/rutabaga dish and demands his own taco, which he quickly devours. J must be coaxed through the majority of his meal but seems to enjoy the festivities, such as they are. Everyone falls into bed exhausted. Eventually.
Saturday #2 (also known as Friday):
Much quieter morning. Expectations are low, and that’s good. John makes homemade biscuits. Jennifer plays with Jonah on the iPad. Gabriel is glued to YouTube videos of large machinery moving dirt. J, G and Jennifer head to the new park behind the new fire station. Jonah plays with a boy named Kian while Jennifer talks to Kian’s grandfather who went to college in Kansas, lived for a time in Colorado, and wishes he had married a farm girl. The troop bounces over to the Malone sand volleyball pit for a good dig in the dirt.
Afternoon is similarly laid back and relaxing. J helps John work in the garage while G and Jennifer spend way too much time at the hardware store buying enamel paint for the wrought iron gates and returning crappy Matchbox digger toys. Quiet supper, back to beans. And the eventual fall into bed.
Saturday #3 (also known as Saturday proper):
Jonah Must play dough. He and John fashion amazing Wolverine figure that survives until late in the evening when G gets ahold of it and all hell breaks loose. Scones are made and consumed. The family attempt to watch an episode of House is not as successful. J and Jennifer take a singing walk. The boys play outside for the rest of the beautiful almost 60 degree day. John finishes building the rock wall and attaches the final Craigslist wrought iron gate, successfully closing up the backyard, much to the delight and gratitude of wife Jennifer. Turkey soup is consumed. Gabriel eats only the soup, minus the turkey; Jonah eats only the turkey, minus the soup. Friends arrive for dessert. Gabriel learns to say “Anna” (one of the daughters of friends Matt and June) and cries real, sad tears when she leaves, saying “Anna! Guck! Me!” John manages to get Wolverine back together. The fall into slumber is swift and sure.