A Thanksgiving Micro-Short Story

Kara’s house was full of warmth and people. The carpet had paths connecting the living room, den and dining room with a trail of footprints from ages of shoes tracking through. From the entryway a pile of work boots and children’s snow boots spilled haphazardly into the path. As people walked through they had to step carefully to avoid boots and wet melted snowy patches. 

Kara’s nieces and nephews trampled through on safaris, on boats to avoid lava flows, and on train cars made of dining room chairs. The noise was welcome in her normally quiet, sometimes lonely house she shared with Jim. Kara took the turkey from the oven to rest and her sister, Sam whisked flour and water into the drippings pan on the stove for gravy. Each year there was either too much salt in the gravy, not enough salt, or a few too many lumps, but Sam whisked it every year and Kara was glad for it.

Kara sipped her glass of wine and gazed into the living room where Jim and Sam’s husband Mike sat in arm chairs watching football. Their mom and dad sat on the sofa sipping coffee. Nieces and nephews rolled on the carpet. A little bit of sadness mixed with gratitude in Kara’s heart. In all the years she and Jim have tried, no little babies have come to warm the rooms of their home. At least she had these little feet and fingers crawling through her home today. 

In past years the turkey has been overdone. It’s been dry. It’s been overly brined and too salty to enjoy. There have been years when Thanksgiving was just a table full of side dishes, a lonesome turkey resting on the kitchen counter, so undercooked it was unsafe to eat. Kara smiled at Sam, sipped her wine again and put the meat thermometer into the thigh. It read 165. Clear juices dripped out onto the serving platter. Thank goodness, Kara thought. “Jim! Come carve the turkey!”

Nazca Lines

We’re using Story of the World for our family history lessons. Story of the World is a chronological history text, beginning with the Fertile Crescent. The girls enjoy using the Story of the World text, the activity book coloring pages, and then YouTube videos of documentaries and stories as supplementation. Obviously, the girls enjoyed the ancient Greeks, and reading the myths and stories of the gods. What I didn’t expect was how enthralled they’d be with the chapter on the Nazca Lines in Peru. I guess I didn’t expect it because I didn’t even know they existed.

This is my top favorite thing about homeschooling. As we go through these quality textbooks I am exposed to all sorts of information that I never knew before. And if it was something I knew about, I have a great excuse to learn even more about it for the sake of educating my girls. It’s a win/win.

Our Village

This post is a big shout out to my village. I couldn’t be the homeschooling mom I am without it. Somehow I moved and within a year I found a fantastic group of families to help get the day-to-day done.

Some citizens of our village at the beach.

Some citizens of our village at the beach.

On a typical week, I find myself in need of help getting from point A to point B with these 3 girls with me at all times. By far the most challenging thing about homeschooling is the lack of alone time. There is no time to schedule a doctor’s appointment. No quick run to the store without finding 4 pair of shoes before you go. It’s exhausting. And sometimes it’s impossible.

When I find myself in a bind, I have a handful of women I can text saying, “hey when we see each other at Lego class today, can you keep the kids for a half hour while I go to the Chiropractor?” Recently, I dropped my kids off with one family for a few hours so I could drive another family to the airport in the middle of the day. On my way back I picked stuff up at the store for a third family we were all going to see in the afternoon. All the kids got some extra play time, no one’s family was put out, and all the work got done.

Now that I’ve found myself in a group like this, I can’t think of living without it. I’m happy to bring anyone’s kids back to my house from a class we share because I know the favor will be returned at some point in the future. No one is keeping track, and no one is abusing the privilege.

A large representation of our village's children.

A large representation of our village’s children.

If you don’t have a village like this, I recommend finding one quick. It starts with making time to get together on purpose. If you get along with someone, and your kids happen to get along too, sit together on purpose at the activities you share. Soon, your friend will say something like, “I’m really not looking forward to taking the kids with me to get the oil changed on the way home.” This is your chance.

Offer to bring her kids to your house so she can do the oil change on her own. Don’t worry if your house is a mess. You just saved her day, she’s not going to judge the dishes in your sink, I promise. When the chance to help arrises again, offer again.

The next part is even harder. Now that you and your friend have some report, it’s time for you to unashamedly ask for help the next time you need it. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Just ask. You know you’d be happy to help her, so believe that she’s happy to help you. The worst that can happen is she is not able to, and she says no. Big deal. You can ask another time and it will probably work out. After a while, you’ll have an extra set of eyes and hands when you need it most, and this sometimes lonely job of parenting just won’t feel so big anymore.