Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Wrapup

How was your Thanksgiving?

Yesterday I realized that, in the past, my answer to this question depended on the succulence of the turkey breast, the tastiness of the stuffing (my favorite part of the meal) or the flakiness of the pie crust. A well-executed vegetable dish, such as roasted Brussels sprouts, could elevate the meal and the memories to mythic proportions.

Based on these criteria, I would have declared yesterday an unprecedented disaster, the worst Thanksgiving since 1621. The turkey slice was pressed, the vegetables frozen, the potatoes instant and the pumpkin pie crust flakeless. Even if I had an appetite, this meal would have been inedible. After two forced bites of each food, I discovered that my hair was shedding on the plate. That was the only excuse I needed to stop.


Thanksgiving dinner at the City of Hope
(If you click to enlarge and look closely, you can see my shedding hair.)

Thank God, I now have a new set of criteria for answering the question, "How was your Thanksgiving?" By my new standards (including depth and breadth of thanks), I declare Thanksgiving 2007 one of the best ever.

But before I came to this declaration, a few challenges nearly derailed me. First, of course, was my loss of Internet access. Then Cindy called pleading with me to budge on a non-negotiable boundary. I held my ground, but gee whiskers, it was exhausting. And then I woke up on Thanksgiving morning expecting my blood counts to be on the upswing. Instead, my white blood cells had plummeted to .3 and my reds were crying out for a transfusion.

My first thought was, "Why is this happening? Isn't it enough to be recovering from killer chemo?" And then I realized that I had become a little smug about my "attitude of gratitude." Could I still be grateful when the edges appeared to be unraveling?

When I started thinking about everything I have to be thankful for, the answer was yes. Family. An abundance of good friends. The many angels at the City of Hope. The kindness of strangers. Health. (I could keep going and going.)

You may be surprised to see "health" on the thanks list of a cancer patient. The truth is that, except for this mantle cell lymphoma thing, I'm in excellent health. A recent night of eight hours of chemo-prompted throwing up and blood pressure levels near comatose make me really appreciate that good health.

That health was good enough yesterday to enjoy a long visit with George and Cindy and shorter visits with three other friends. I also talked with more than a dozen family members and friends during the day. All of the stimulation called for a 6 pm nap, the first non-Benadryl-induced slumber I've enjoyed since arriving at Hotel Hope.


The magnificent view from my room at City of Hope.
Cindy brought me the beautiful leaves as a Thanksgiving present.

So . . . How was your Thanksgiving?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

The family Thanksgiving was peaceful this year..the town of Pasadena is so dead..not a car or soul on the roads..Christmas is also that way..and the day after the Rose Parade..I always feel like I'm in an episode of the Twilight Zone..driving round town.
Had the worst Mexican Food today..in Alhambra on Valley near Mission started in 1956 very much like El Coyote..bad food nice service and strong drinks..how do places like that stay in business..do you know the place? I'm glad you are feeling good and true you are the most healty patient I've know!

Anonymous said...

Susan,
anonymous is always Mary! the only way I can get past the gate..is sign in under anonymous
Mary

Mrs. Duck said...

I've always thought that those who are truly grateful to Creation are grateful even when the roses fade and everything seems dark, cold and bleak. That is, one shouldn't love and thank Creation only when everything is peachy ... one should love it always, because no matter what happens to us, Creation is miraculous, awesome, and wondrous -- a gift far beyond anything we could dream of if we had all eternity.

Of course, I don't know anyone who consistently lives up to that ideal -- who can remain grateful always, every moment, no matter what happens. I, for one, can become annoyed, devoid of all thoughts of gratitude, simply by finding myself trapped behind a snail-paced car on a busy day.

You, though, come as close than anyone I know to the ideal, and when you fall short you acknowledge it, and keep striving. That makes you -- to me and I am sure to everyone who reads your blog -- a human, humble beacon of hope for us all, a role model we can believe in and aspire to.

So, on this weekend of gratitude, I want to tell you that I'm grateful to you for the courage, humor, intelligence and humility which you bring to all your challenges, and share with us every day.

I love you.

janet aird said...

Hi Susan - I feel the same, especially after watching the news and reading the paper and realizing things that OTHER people are going through. Do you think it's true what they say, that if we all put our problems in a big pile and then had to choose one, we'd choose our own? At least we have a certain expertise in dealing with it after awhile.

Lilli said...

Even here in the middle of America we did have fresh turkey, rather than pressed meat. But I miss California cooking. I've only been here, in St. Louis, since Monday and the new slacks I bought last week are already tight.

Today I made vegetable soup, a staple I keep around my house to enable healthy eating. My dad wanted to know why I was making it, because we're going out to dinner (to a bufett, no less).

But Thanksgiving with my family was uneventful, and that is something to be thankful for.

I'm glad you're back online and got a shiny new computer in the deal! Thank you for sharing your inspiring list of things to be thankful for.

Margaret Finnegan said...

I love Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday. No presents. No presumptions. No weird family drama. Just a good meal. Everyone brings something. I usually bring sweet potato pie, and sometimes apple pie too. Sometimes I also bring biscuits. I'm a baker, not entree maker so it is better for everyone if I stay away from the turkey and stuffing. We usually eat at my mother in laws, and she has cable! So it is very fun for us (the cable-less) to sit around and watch TV while we wait for the cooking to finish. This year we watched The Parent Trap -- and I felt very thankful the my children were not Lindsey Lohan, who I feel very sad for.

Mathews Family said...

I love the gift that Cindy brought for you. You have such an encouraging attitude. There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for, isn't there? I remind Jesse of this constantly since starting a new business seems to be overwhelming at times. Speaking of Jesse, I just heard a big bang coming from the attic. He's getting down the Christmas stuff-better go help!
Love you so much.

Susan Carrier said...

Mrs. Duck, you made me cry!

Thanks for sharing, everyone.

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

Thanksgiving is when I celebrate the anniversary of moving into my house (with husband #1). I thought he was crazy to want to buy a house, but we borrowed the down payment from his rich Aunt Mickey in Texas. We had two kids, then husband #1 left. Later, husband #2 moved in. On Halloween this year, the last kid moved out - so we're officially empty nesters. AARP membership can't be far behind.

This Thanksgiving was my 25th anniversary of living in my little-and-still-needs-work-I'm-not-terribly-domestic house. My heart is overflowing.

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