The Playroom: Nothings better than gravy

Author: Maraya Steadman '89, '90MBA

Two years ago my daughter wrote a poem at school.

Maraya Steadman

Turkeys are good
Have some pudding
A raw turkey is terrible
Nothings better than gravy
Knives cut vegetables
Stuffing is my favorite
Grandmas pies are yummy
I think cookies are amazing
Very good pumpkin seeds
I love the ham
Nuts are good in salads
Great food is served

I love this poem, especially the gravy bit, and I have it in my Thanksgiving binder, the one I’m looking through as I plan our menu, review recipes and wonder if I need to buy more napkins. The other morning in the midst of our usual morning chaos and my bad decision to put all the linens in a plastic garbage bag, my husband took the bag of linens to the garbage and a bag of garbage to the dry cleaners.

Every year I start planning two weeks before Thanksgiving. I send the linens to be cleaned. I’ll make out the menus and spreadsheet my to-do list. I’ll shop for the right pie plate and polish the silver, design the table setting, write out the place cards, order flowers, and then I’ll cook and bake for days. By Thanksgiving I’ll sit down at the end of the day glad it’s all over with and wishing I didn’t have yet more pots to scrub before bedtime.

I’m not into Thanksgiving because it’s too much work and I’m too busy with other things. I don’t care about linen napkins anymore — I don’t have time — which is probably why I put them in a garbage bag to send to the dry cleaners and why this year we might end up using paper napkins.

I have a friend whose girls are coming home from college next week. She is buzzing with excitement. And I see an irony there, for I realize that a time will come when I sit down two weeks before Thanksgiving to plan and purchase and polish, and I will be excited and looking forward to the celebration. A time soon enough when I will be sad at the end of the day because I know it means the children will be heading back to college or back to their own lives in another suburb or another city.

The irony draws me toward corners where I am sad and afraid. I am reminded to be grateful, so I pull out our family gratitude journal, the journal where my son is grateful for candy and Dad is grateful for bedtime, looking for inspiration. The one where the message written on the pages in between the candy and bedtime is that we are grateful for each other.

As I plan this Thanksgiving meal and scrub out all the pots when it’s done, I am going to try to stay focused on the words written on the pages of our family journal. Between candy and bedtime, we have each other. My husband doesn’t need to apologize for throwing out the linens I stuck in a garbage bag and put by the back door. For now, I am happy with the paper napkins at our Thanksgiving table.

Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. Her website is Email her at