As we count down the days to Thanksgiving, one thing looms large in my mind.
It will be crazy. It always is. Literally dozens of relatives descend upon my mom's house for her signature masala turkey and my homemade macaroni and cheese, Indian-spiced green beans, and jalapeno mashed potatoes. Cousins, aunts, uncles, even Tarun mama can be counted on to show. We're a loud, boisterous bunch.
So Thanksgiving, well, it's just too much. Too many people, too many commitments, too much craziness.
But I've realized something. It's okay. And I'm looking forward to it.
This time last year, I would have been freaking out about taking my little baby into the hot mess that is Thanksgiving at my parents' house. But becoming a mom has really been a turning point for me. As much as I might whine about needing me time, there's nothing like a little one to make you realize how important the little things are.
Motherhood has made me slow down and appreciate the little things. I've learned to count my blessings every day.
Before, I was so big picture, so driven. Now, I've learned the little things are just as important. Little things like morning cuddles, or the way Kavi grins just at me when I pick her up from daycare. Little things like that tiny first tooth. The glee she gets from trying to walk, grasping my hands with her little fingers. Her excitement about sharing a pumpkin muffin with mama.
Kavi's the center of my world, but she's also made me look up, take a look around, and learn to accept help, to be grateful for all those who are there for me. To realize how many people have always been there for me.
Family's always been important to me, but having Kavi around has made me appreciate the other people in my life more, too. I may have had a crazy year, but I wouldn't be doing what I am right now, pursuing my dream, if my husband didn't say, "Go ahead. Take the time you need. It's now or never." Even if that means, three nights a week, he's the one playing with and feeding and tucking Kavi into bed, as exhausted as he might be from a full day's work. It's my sister stepping up to babysit, to witness the unconditional bond she has with her niece. It's grandma talking me down when my little one's got a 104 fever. It's even grandpa giving her an extra cookie when he knows mommy's not looking, despite my warnings.
And for us, Thanksgiving is more than just turkey and pie. (And I'm not just talking about the stack of buttery naan next to the biscuits, or the crispy tikkis my dad makes out of the mashed potatoes). Our roots in this country are barely two generations deep, and despite all the recent economic strife, it still is the land of opportunity for my family. My parents came here nearly 30 years ago hoping to build a better life for their children. I imagine my life would look very different right now if they hadn't made that decision -- and so would Kavi's.
After my parents came here, their brother and sisters followed, and now, when the family gathers, it's easily 30 people breaking bread. It's an opportunity for all of us to take a breather, share a moment, to really catch up and celebrate. There's a lot of laughter, and admittedly, occasionally a lot of drama. So come Thanksgiving, I don't doubt that Kavi will be passed from person to person, hovered over by her extended aunts and uncles (the youngest of whom is 4!), and fed cookies and other junk that would normally give me a heart attack.
It will be overwhelming. For her. For me. But I am looking forward to it. Because in the end, they're all just showing how thankful they are to have her around, too.
So I can't wait to see her taste turkey for the first time, to see her reaction to pumpkin pie. I can't wait for her to hang with crazy, laughing, joking family. Because this is her family. She better get used to it. And one day, she, too, will learn to appreciate the chaos. And be thankful for it.
What does Thanksgiving mean to you?
Image via Navdeep Singh Dhillon