I sat at the head of the table waiting patiently for my guests to get settled. The table was laid out beautifully. I tried to smile at how far I had gone out to make today perfect. It had to be perfect…
The preparation took almost two days. I made homemade mashed potatoes, not the boxed kind; Sam didn’t like the box kind. Then I made sure the yams were cooked with the precise amount of brown sugar, so that they were slightly crunchy just the way Jonathan wanted them to be. Cheryl even emailed me with a recipe for a casserole that she had to have. Her friend’s mom makes it all the time, so last minute I threw that together.
I sighed. My eyes grazed over the table. The turkey was in place perfectly golden and ready to be cut. All of the serving spoons, the good kind my mother gave me, were in each bowl beckoning to be dished up. The red candles were melting, slowly dripping down their long stems. I waited.
“Dad, stop it! I don’t want to hear it anymore!”
I sighed. Each place setting held a special paper turkey with my guest’s names written on them.
“Well you are gonna hear it because you are throwing your life away! No son of mine is going to waste the life I invested so much time in!”
My stomach lurched as I listened to the familiar holiday sounds in the other room. The turkey didn’t look so delicious anymore.
“Dad, just because he's not doing what you want him to do doesn’t mean he's wasting his life!”
My eyes softened, Cheryl always the protector.
“Shut up Cheryl! Your opinion doesn’t matter until you start contributing to this household!”
I couldn’t see my daughter’s face at that moment, but I could feel her heart breaking. In pain I sighed.
“Don’t talk to her that way! All she is trying to do is defend me!”
“How can she defend what you are doing? You,” Sam’s voice became accusatory, “are dedicating your life to something that will lead you to nowhere!”
“You don’t know that,” Jonathan shouted back his voice sounding frustrated.
“I do know that! Look at me! Do you want your life to be a struggle; a fight!”
“I’m up for it if that’s what it takes!”
“You are a fool then- a fool and a failure!”
I took a sharp breath. Wax dripped on to the white table cloth. I don’t know why I laid out the white one, but no matter now, it was ruined-stained, just like today.
Jonathan remained quiet. I felt pure defeat. I held my breath.
“That’s right walk away! It’s because I am right!” Sam sounded triumphantly angry.
“You aren’t right dad,” Jonathan stated, his voice taking on a tone I had never heard, “you’re just not worth it anymore.”
It was Sam’s turn to be silent.
I heard the door shut and then Cheryl’s crying. “I’m going to my room!” Another door slammed.
My husband came into the dining room. He looked aged and his eyes held a hurt only I would recognize. I sat frozen.
“Looks like we’ll be eating alone this year,” he said quietly.
I looked at the mashed potatoes, the casserole, the decorated table, and the candles melting onto my white table cloth.
My dream, my hope was lost.
"It’s just the way you like it.”
“The yams,” my husband asked as he served himself some.
“No, life- you like life alone.” He met my gaze and dropped the silver serving spoon.
I pushed away from the table, tossed my cloth napkin on my plate and went to go find Cheryl. I heard my husbands hushed cries as I left the room, but I couldn't turn back.
No matter how hard I tried I didn’t have a recipe that could repair my broken family. We needed God’s ingredients for love and forgiveness, because the turkey dinner with the homemade fixings, were just not going to cut it this year.
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