Thursday, November 28, 2013

*I Don't Want to Be a Martha

Whenever I hear the story from Luke about when Jesus went to the home of Mary and her sister Martha, I always squirm with discomfort.  (Luke 10: 38-42)  I think anyone who has read the story agrees that we should all strive to be like Mary. Just recently, I have become aware of how like Martha I have always been. Like Martha, I welcome guests into my home.  That's a good thing. Like Martha, I get a little grumpy when there is so much to do to make guests feel welcome, and people like Mary sit around, enjoying the company while I slave away tidying up and preparing the food.  Um.  That's not a good thing.

I'm afraid that I identify a little too much with Martha.  If I had been there, I'd have been tossing things around in the kitchen, throwing icy glares at old Mary, sitting on her butt, talking to Jesus, while I would have been busy, busy, busy. 

Why can't I just be like Mary?  Why can't I just love the people around me, and let the details take care of themselves?  Why do I feel obliged to be like Martha?  

This morning, I realized that I can change.  My intention on this day of Thanksgiving is gratitude; for my blessings, for my family, for the opportunity to all be together.  I will invite peace into my heart, and allow others to help, while focusing on the people, not the things, for our holiday gathering. 

The house is relatively tidy; I can relax my goal for immaculate.  The worrisome bird is finally in the roaster. Whew.  I had a sleepless night over that little detail.  The sweet potatoes are ready for a little syrup and topping.  Slight assembly is all that is needed for our Pumpkin Trifle.  Everyone else is taking care of the rest.  It's time to relax and enjoy this beautiful holiday for what it is: a time to give thanks.

Yesterday I was on a roller coaster between blissful peace to frantic panic.  The morning was delightful with music and holiday lights and shopping.  The store was not overly crowded; I found everything I needed; I carefully selected some beautiful oranges to make some holiday potpourri for gifts.  Before driving home through the canyon, I treated myself to a Dirty Dr. Pepper (coconut syrup added), and I listened to XM stereo's Holly channel all the way home.  And then, just like that, my focus shifted.

Where were those oranges?  Oh, no.  I bought all of the wrong stuff for our Keurig?  Was the turkey thawing fast enough?  Our floors look streaky.  Should I set the tables now or in the morning?  I forgot to get canned yams!!!  We live over 30 miles from town.  As I crested the hill into Marysvale, Tugs convenience store came into view. I would buy their yams I had seen in the back of the store that morning.  Yes, they would be pricey.  No, I wasn't going to quibble about the money.  Yes, there would be much more prep since they were fresh.  No, I wasn't going to let that stop me.

I started to wrap the last of the presents.  Yes, our crazy family adds a little extra holiday to
Eric, in his fine Italian suit, with my friend Cindy and me. 1984
Thanksgiving by doing our gift exchange. Thanksmas, we call it.  And then I saw my mistake.  My brother Eric had asked for some warm winter socks.  I knew just where to get them.  Our local Ace hardware has a nice assortment of wool blend socks.  I had felt several pairs to find the softest ones, and I grabbed them.  Something you need to know about Eric...our family has always joked that he is our Mr. GQ, always carefully dressed. When he was a young adult, he saved very carefully from his job at Barnaby's Pizza to be able to afford his first complete Italian ensemble...from the fine leather shoes, to the fitted suit, to the shirt and tie.  He could have been a model.  My handsome brother always looked nice.

So, back to the socks.  What I had accidentally bought was DUCK COMMANDER socks.  Now, I love watching Duck Dynasty as much as the next retired school teacher, but I would NEVER buy my brother something with Uncle Si emblazoned on it, or the words HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY on the front.  So what did I do?  I bought my fashion-conscious brother two pairs of Duck Dynasty socks. Oh, well, we'll laugh about this later.  Like I said, we live quite a distance from town.  He's getting the socks.

All of the little problems were sorted out.  Bridger bought what we needed for the Keurig by running into town before coming home; I dug out the old, slightly dry Cutie tangerines to use in the potpourri, and we had a simple frozen pizza for dinner.  The three of us enjoyed some Charlie Brown holiday movies on Netflix before we all headed to bed.

Sleep is not my friend the night before holiday gatherings.  I still fret over the details.  What if the turkey isn't thawing properly?  How am I going to wrangle that 24 pound bird by myself with it covered in butter?  Why didn't I remember to bring the whipping attachment for the mixer from our other house?  So around two, I found myself re-reading recipe directions online, sipping Kava tea, hoping to return to sleep before dawn.

Now that the turkey is in the roaster, and I know that Mom is taking care of the whipped cream before she arrives, and I realize I only have about another hour of kitchen duties to take care of, my goal is to relax into the moment, and simply enjoy this day.  Soon our home will be filled with the fragrance of roasting turkey, and yummy citrus and seasonal spices. There will be laughter and teasing.  We will enjoy a delicious dinner consisting of my mom's yummy rolls, my brother's famous stuffing, and my sister's creamy mashed potatoes.  There will be dessert.  

Before we open gifts, each of us will take a turn to tell what we are grateful for.  We'll open gifts. Eric will be gracious when he opens his; you see, he's not just a classy dresser; he's just plain classy. We'll all clean up; there's never just one person doing it all, and for that I'm grateful.  I hope today we'll be a room full of Marys, enjoying each other's company and taking part in the holiday festivities.  We have a position for a Martha opening up in our family.  Any takers?


  1. That scripture always makes me squirm, too! I have strong tendencies to be a Martha. Thank you for refreshing my memory. I will try this holiday season to keep things in the proper perspective, as well!

    1. My little sister reminded me that "we all have a little Martha in us." Whether that's true or not, it made me feel better.


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