Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Thanksgiving Lesson Learned

"Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives." ~ William James

Since I moved to Virginia, all of my time has been taken up with fixing up this house. It has three bedrooms, 2 baths, a formal dining room and a large family room with a fireplace.

Quite a change for me, moving out of a one room apartment into this place!

Anyway, the house had been vacant for three years when we started working on it and it was a mess. I can't describe what it looked like adequately, but I will give you a hint:

For a while, it's only occupant was a stray cat. (Peeyooo)

It also had been vacated hurriedly, and most of the stuff that was in the house (and refrigerator) three years ago was still in the house. We took hundreds of trash bags full of unusable junk and spoiled food out of the house while working on it. Well, maybe not hundreds, but I bet I'm close.

Anyway, except for one bedroom, it is livable and looking good once again. That one bedroom's ceiling had caved in sometime in the last three years. We haven't had it repaired yet.

Hopefully that is next on the agenda.

So, for Thanksgiving, we cleaned and detailed the house getting it ready for our first house guests.

My 17 year old son, who considers himself above manual labor, was drafted into helping. (against his will, of course)

I was stressing, under the gun to get everything shipshape before the guests arrived, and I was barking orders and complaining and yelling at the kid for not working harder and with more attention to detail.

Eventually, we got to the point where we had only finishing touches left, and I instructed my son to vacuum off the upholstery in the den while I vacuumed the living room rug. His was a chore that shouldn't take more than 5 minutes at the most.

After vacuuming the rug, I turned off the vacuum cleaner and to my surprise and consternation, I could still hear the other vacuum running in the other room. I looked toward the source of the noise, and found my son standing in the middle of the room, shirtless, with a shop vac hose suctioned to his abdomen, and laughing.

At that precise moment I learned a valuable lesson.

Here I was, rushing around all stressed and worried that all the work might not get done in time, and he was taking a little extra time to have a little fun!

As I wound the cord up on my Eureka, I silently chastised myself for letting the preparation for the holiday take precedence over the enjoyment of the holiday.

With a sigh, I sat down in a recliner and took a break. If we didn't get everything perfect, so what? We could still have an enjoyable holiday with our friends and family.

The kitchen floor didn't get mopped before the guest showed up and you know what?

They didn't seem to even notice.


The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

At that precise moment I learned a valuable lesson.

I learned that lesson in elementary school from watching Mary Poppins sing "A Spoonful of Sugar".

Hope you are enjoying the rest of your Thanksgiving weekend.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark. The new house sounds lovely – especially compared to the shoeboxes that we Brits are used to describing as spacious. I find that kind of fixing-up very satisfying; you start with a disaster area and you end up with a neat, tidy, cosy home.

A timely reminder too; Thanksgiving is the holiday to appreciate life as well as things. It sounds like you had a good day all around. Best wishes and I hope you have many more happy Thanksgivings in your new home.

Mark said...

Pardon me. I should have said I re-learned the lesson. I've learned that lesson thousands of times it seems. It just goes to show sometimes education doesn't stick.

Pamela Reece said...


Sometimes the things we fret over the most mean so very little, yet those things we don't seem to be bigger than we expected. Who knew?!?!

Hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving and are enjoying the graced season.