All the Trimmings

Plus An Extra Helping of Gratitude

Some time ago I was struck by the realization that the magic of “overnight delivery” doesn’t eliminate any necessary tasks, it just lets us put them off longer.  Never mind that the cost of the service goes up astronomically as the time window closes, even though the end result, like the deadline itself, is essentially unchanged.

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Procrastination seems to be largely a first world luxury, at least when it comes to everyday chores.  A case in point would be my recent engagement in the dreaded battle of kitchen oven cleaning.  I had known for a long time that it would have to be done, but it was always easy to find excuses to focus on other “important” activities that needed my attention.

However, the big bird eventually found its way into the freezer and the time came when the extended period of thawing would need to commence.  It seems there was no way out. I had to face the beast.  Now I must share the truth that the oven in question is a dandy, not only large and accurate but with lots of bells and whistles, one of those being the self-cleaning feature.

OK, I confess that I gave it quick consideration.  After all, there were many other things I could be doing.  But knowing how much energy it takes to attain the temperatures required for the considerable duration of the operation, not to mention the inevitable smoke and collateral heat that it generates, I rounded up the baking soda, vinegar and other necessities, including what I correctly suspected would be a considerable portion of elbow grease.

The job took what seemed like hours (and a lot of complaining) to complete. In the end, the oven wasn’t as perfect as new, but it was pretty darned good, enough so that I will be proud to introduce the gobbler to it when the time comes.  

All of this sounds pretty trite, I know, but while the story being shared is true, it is part allegory as well, and hints at why we find ourselves giving thanks in the first place.  While weighing my options related to this “inconvenience” I kept coming back to images I had watched on the local news a couple of days prior.

The particular report shared the plight of a group of migrants from Latin America who have been given permission to temporarily stay in our country while they seek more permanent status and the opportunity to secure better lives for themselves. The group was comprised of a few dozen families, including children and infants, and many of the men were forced to sleep in cars under a bridge while they spent their days searching for work.

They professed to have a variety of valuable skills, including some specific to the construction sector.  Unfortunately for them, the employment opportunities in that locale proved to be more limited than they had been led to believe. Some basic shelter and food were being provided by the surrounding community but those finite resources were rapidly dwindling.

Like millions of disadvantaged and displaced people around the world who struggle to find basic necessities like shelter and adequate sustenance, they also lacked all but the most rudimentary cooking options. Open fires fueled with scrap materials, charcoal, and even dung, are the reality for many.  

At a time when it is harder than ever to find willing, dependable help—nowhere more evident than in our industry—it is really difficult and frustrating to watch people suffer when they are eager to do whatever it takes just to have a job.  So, it feels more than a little entitled to complain and put off cleaning a marvelous appliance that will deliver the centerpiece of an opulent holiday meal.

I’m not going to pretend that I am necessarily looking forward to cleaning the oven next time around, that would simply be untrue. But when that time does roll around, I hope to not regard it as something I “have” to do, but rather as something I “get” to do.  And when it comes to putting things off, as I am sure I will, counting my blessings will not be among them.

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