With the pumpkin and apple pies resting on the counter, the dressing chilling in a refrigerator, and the cranberry salad congealing, we set to cleaning and straightening the kitchen. Pastry clung to my apron front and lined the cuffs of my sweater. Flour dusted the floor. Bits of onion and celery stuck to the tile floor. Sticky cranberry juice spread like melted candy on the stove top.
The dishwasher was packed. Pots and bowls drained in the sink. Dish towels and rags spun in the washing machine. The mop hung precariously from a laundry room perch, dripping with Mr. Clean.
My feet complained. My back ached. A sharp pain radiated from my left hip. We had forgotten to buy whipping cream and ice cream for the pies. Our eight year old GE Profile refrigerator had failed.
Otherwise, we were ready for “Over the river and through the woods” after a good night’s sleep.
Except that the good night’s sleep refused to cooperate. The day’s events trailed me to bed. Between sautéing onions in butter, slicing apples, and draining pineapple, we had bought a refrigerator. My evening reading of text messages and emails had detailed how much awaited us after Thanksgiving. I worried about and prayed for loved ones dealing with anxious situations. I agonized over national and cultural discord. I ruminated helplessly. Autumn hikes replayed through my memories. Anticipation crept into the wrinkles of hopeful slumber. My husband’s steady breathing and quiet body reminded me how luscious sleep can be, could be, might be, if only I could let go of the day.
What a stew the brain can be before a celebration, I thought. Just like Christmas Eve when I cannot quite relax enough to sleep, when the energy of preparation refuses to stop, here I was humming along under the blanket as if I had had three cups of coffee and a brisk walk. My crazy thoughts ran in such random directions none of it would ever make sense in conversation.
So I gave up, slipped into a robe, made a cup of lemon ginger tea, turned on the lamp in the den, and picked up a novel. Ollie, our designer mutt, left his bed, jumped onto the sofa, and snuggled up beside me. A chilly wind tossed the trees in the night’s silvery light. With each gust, the rocker on the back porch struck the exterior wall. This is nice, I thought. Here’s the Afghan my friend crocheted, the humming furnace, the ticking of the bookcase clock. Here I AM.
The spicy tea warmed my senses. Peace came so surreptitiously I hardly noticed until I was thinking about all the recent manifestations of God’s love and mercy. My mind quieted. The book kept slipping. I switched off the lamp. When I climbed back into bed, I fell into a deep sleep — gratefully.