I’m always forgetting something. So much so that the feeling people sometimes talk about, where they feel as if they’ve left something behind or turned on or open or closed or running or canceled has become such a common place sensation for me that I pretty much just ignore it. I know we get those feelings for a reason, but with the alarming frequency that I forget… well… everything, I’ve just learned to not pay attention to it. But I can’t do that today. I can’t ignore it or push it aside, and I certainly cannot forget anything.
Why? Because today is a big day. Today is a momentous occasion. Today is so stressful I’m pretty sure I’ve lost ten pounds from the worry. Today is Thanksgiving. Today is the first holiday celebration I will be hosting in my new home, and the entire family will be here. And I cannot afford to forget, so I made lists.
I’ve got them coming out of my ears, these lists, with their names and dates and amounts and costs and stores and letters and ink and graphite. They’re seeping out of my pores and I feel like they’ve become more a part of me than my forgetful nature. I’ve got them tucked in pockets, shoved in day planners, typed up on smart phones and emails, taped to cabinets and posted to the fridge. I’m drowning in a sea of little paper slips and strips and I’m bleeding ink of many colors because I keep losing and forgetting my pens, so I have to replace them.
But today is different. Today I’ve remembered everything. I remembered the turkey, green beans, the stuffing, the apple pie, the pumpkin pie, the sweet potatoes, the corn, the gravy, the rolls, the cider, the tea, the coffee (to keep me awake), and the butter. I even remembered the decorations: table-cloth, cloth napkins, silverware, china, wreathes of autumn leaves and gourds and dried pumpkins. The wine is chilling for the after-dinner toast, the entire house smells of food and autumn, and there’s music filling the air, occasionally punctuated by the sound of banging pots and pans or a yelp of pain because I forgot to wear an oven mitt.
My guests are arriving and I’m so proud of myself. I remember to wash the flour off my hands before I go to greet them at the door, and I remember to smile even though I feel like screaming at them that they are too many, too loud, and too soon. They’re asking if I need help or if there is something they can do, and even though I want to scream “yes!”, I remember that the polite thing to do is say no and wave them off after handing them a glass of tea and telling them everything will be ready soon.
I remember to do a double-count of heads to be sure that I remembered to set a place for everyone. I remember to don my apron before returning to work in the kitchen, even though I keep forgetting to breathe. I remember that my husband’s parents are coming and that I’m terrified of what his mother will think if everything isn’t just right. I remember that his father is allergic to nuts and decide that it’s a good idea I didn’t have time to make that pecan pie my cousin requested.
But even though I’m sure I remembered everything, even though all my lists have been checked twice and my pen is out of ink from all the strike-throughs and check-marks I made to say things were done or taken care of, I feel like I’m forgetting something. I’m mulling it over and wracking my brain as I set the table and prepare to call everyone to dinner, to display my prowess over the kitchen utensils and grocery store carts and silver polish. I begin to panic as I can’t shake the feeling that something incredibly, crucially important has flown from my mind and can ruin my big day.
I remember what my husband’s arms feel like as he pulls me in to the office and closes the door, insisting that I keep forgetting to breathe. I remember that my hands are shaking and there are tears in my eyes which could be disastrous because this morning I remembered to put on mascara and eyeliner, but didn’t remember the water-proof kind. I remember how much he loves me as he strokes my hair and insists I take a minute to myself. I remember that he’s been so proud of me and so worried this week as all I’ve done is go, go, go. I remember the scent of his cologne as he guides my head to rest against his chest and tells me he loves me.
I remember what calm is. And then I remember something else…
I remember I forgot to set the timer on the oven. I remember the smell of overcooked poultry and stuffing that’s turning black at the edges. I remember panic. I remember how fast my legs can carry me. I remember that it’s impossible to run on wood floors in stocking feet when you’re in a hurry. I remember what pain is as I throw open the oven and try to grab the pain without a mitt (again). I remember laughter… inexplicable, sudden, raucous laughter as I finally pull the turkey, with its slightly tough meat and too-crisp, too-dark skin out and place it on the counter.
I remember what relief is as I realize that the day is decidedly ruined, but at least it’s over. I remember that I’ve been bottling every ounce of stress and worry and panic up inside of me for weeks. I remember that despite all my lists and all my preparation, I’m only human. I remember that because I screwed this up, there probably wont be any more holidays at our house.
I remember what today is all about. I remember that I’m thankful. I remember that a world of expectations have just been erased because I burnt the turkey.