Tuesday, December 12, 2006

On football, fishing, a television, and Thanksgiving

I’ve often said that God likes to show up in spite of less-than-ideal circumstances. Who would have thought I’d need to remember this last month at Thanksgiving?

This year’s perfect Thanksgiving holiday plan was potentially blemished by three things: a television, fishing, and a football game. Now, don’t get me wrong - I own a TV, and my husband, God bless him, has a mind-numbing capacity for football statistics, especially when it comes to OU (That‘s Oklahoma, for you Northerners) and the Dallas Cowboys. I actually enjoy the game myself, in an odd, American sort of way. In fact, if I didn’t already have an obsession a hobby, I might even be convinced to sit and watch a game every now and then. And I enjoy fishing if I don’t have to touch the fish or the bait.

But about TV’s: I don’t like it when a TV is (a) very large and/or (b) the focal point of a room. If I were a designer, I would absolutely, positively, and in no uncertain terms, say that a big screen TV ruins any room. They’re just plain ugly, and besides, who wants something that we DON’T want influencing our family to have such a prominent place in the house?

So wouldn’t you know, a few days before Thanksgiving my husband lovingly came to me and told me his brother was getting a new TV, and would we like to buy his old big-screen? "It’s a really good deal, and by the way, he can bring it when he comes for Thanksgiving." He was looking so darn cute with his lower lip sticking out and folding his hands, I chose to ignore the comment about how he was the only guy he knew whose wife wouldn’t let him have a big TV for watching the Cowboys...something like that.

Inside I was screaming. Who me? Own a 52-inch monstrosity of an “idiot box” (as my dad used to call them)? There is no way that thing is coming into our house. Everyone knows that big-screen TVs ruin any room! No way!

But being the loving wife that I am, I managed to choke out, “I’ll think about it.”

While that “conversation” simmered, the next day my husband had yet another request. “How would you feel if I went to Oklahoma on Wednesday [the day before Thanksgiving] to fish with my dad and brothers? I’d be back in plenty of time to help you get ready for Thanksgiving?” His parents only visit once a year from California and the guys have so much fun together.


But wait! The requests were not over! The next day after that, my dear husband was down on bended knee: “I know I’m running the risk of being seen as a crazy man, but since I’m submitting outrageous requests, I thought I’d throw this one out there: Someone just gave me four tickets to the Cowboys game. Forty yard line, 8th row. How would you feel if I took my dad and brothers to the game? They never get to go, and this would be a cool opportunity to make a memory?”

Now, the Cowboys traditionally play every Thanksgiving Day. And, unless you live here, it's hard to imagine just HOW DEVOTED Cowboys fans really are. So, sacrilegious or not, after our Thanksgiving meal, someone is usually sneaking a peek at the game in the back room. But GO to the game? What happened to the religious sanctity of THE DAY? What message would our kids be getting by your going on what is supposedly a “family” holiday?

By now I was feeling a bit ramrodded. Three requests, however lovingly presented, altogether dashing every expectation I could possibly have for the holiday weekend. Were they such unrealistic expectations? I wanted my husband home. Was that so bad? I wanted my small TV. What’s wrong with that? I doubt the Pilgrims were watching football that first Thanksgiving. Sheesh, why call it Thanksgiving if it really didn’t “look” like Thanksgiving? It all made me angry.

Meanwhile my patient husband waited. I had some soul-searching to do. Even some crying. I even let him know: How could he? Ruin my décor (for whatever that’s worth). Ruin my plan for a peaceful time with family? Do this to the kids?

Once that was all out on the table, I gave it to the Lord. Well, sort of. After I spent several days stewing and - worst of all - the evening he got home from a glorious day fishing - pouting. I hate it when I let my own selfish desires (for myself or on behalf of the kids, who were at their aunt’s house and didn’t even realize Dad was gone) interfere with my relationship with my husband. You know, the husband who gets up every morning and makes the kids' lunches and gives me diamonds, furs, jewels occasional professional house cleaning. Oh, that guy.

I let the desire for “my” perfect Thanksgiving (turkey in the oven at 7:00 a.m. and eat at 2:00, just like we've always done) get in the way of the larger reality before me: I had a husband who loved me and wanted to come home to me, but who also loved his parents and wanted to spend time with them. I wasn’t giving him much reason to want to hang out with me, that‘s for sure. The evil, sinister purpose of my pouting was to rub in the fact that I was really making “sacrifices” for him. But did I stop and ask him how he felt about things?

We ended up having a good conversation, but it wasn’t pretty getting there. In twenty-one years of marriage, I still struggle saying exactly what I mean (I can write it with no problem) and expressing what I need. We both struggle with being defensive and not listening with the heart. We skirted the issue a while but eventually I just said exactly what I felt: All this was making me feel that I was being deserted. In an incredible act of sacrifice, my husband said he would give it all up, if it were that important to me.

I was faced with a choice: I could “win.” My husband had just told me he would scrap all the plans - the monster TV and the football game (the fishing was already over).

Or, I could change my attitude and allow my husband to enjoy a rare treat with his brothers.

My own favorite saying, “God enjoys showing up when circumstances are less than ideal” was staring me in the face. Could I believe that God could still show up if I had a big-screen TV, if my husband were gone for part of the day, and if we celebrated our Thanksgiving after - of all things - a football game?

I decided (eventually) on the latter. Yes, I have a big TV. It’s ugly, but it hasn’t changed our TV watching habits (the remote is still under parental control). I’ll eventually get a cabinet to camouflage its unsightliness. In the meantime, it sports a lamp and some knickknacks to soften the edges a bit.

And Thanksgiving Day was great. I enjoyed a very slow-paced afternoon of cooking with my mother- and sisters-in-law. The kids helped. We ate by candlelight on Grandma Betty’s china at 7:30 p.m. (after the Cowboys demolished Tampa Bay, 38-10). My husband and his dad did the dishes. The next day everyone hung out together, just like Thanksgiving morning, only backwards. Yes, the kids did get a message: they are a part of something bigger than themselves, something bigger than just one day of thanks can possibly hold.

It was beautiful. Even in spite of less-than-ideal circumstances.

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Colossians 2:16-17


Anonymous said...

How beautiful, Katherine!
And that scripture clinches it - what is reality? Jesus, and only Him.
You are a blessed woman, indeed.

Kris said...

Please do not let Dennis have long talks with Joe. You probably have more grace than I would with a big TV even though watching the Cowboys on Thanksgiving is part of my tradition.

Beck said...

It's so HARD for me to give up control over every single little thing! Thanks for the reminder of what's really important.

Susanne said...

Good for you for being flexible! This was a very good encouragement Katherine!

Anonymous said...

I don't know how many times I have been in that same situation: letting my selfish desires over-rule what my husband has decided or wanted to do. I love your quote--I will have to remember that. I am glad your Thanksgiving worked out better than you wanted! :)

Anonymous said...

I don't know how many times I have been in that same situation: letting my selfish desires over-rule what my husband has decided or wanted to do. I love your quote--I will have to remember that. I am glad your Thanksgiving worked out better than you wanted! :)

Anonymous said...

I don't know how many times I have been in that same situation: letting my selfish desires over-rule what my husband has decided or wanted to do. I love your quote--I will have to remember that. I am glad your Thanksgiving worked out better than you wanted! :)

Anonymous said...

You did good girl! Better than me I'm sure. I always have to think of things like this. Ten years down the road, will this be a big deal? It really does put perspective on things. The big screen though? Not sure that would have helped. Sorry.