I like snow. I really do. Even when I had to shovel, there where something satisfying about being in the cold, moving the stuff and working up a sweat. It's December in WI, and we still don't have snow. Supposedly, it's on it's way tonight. We'll see.
Thanksgiving was a wonderful time. It's always been my favorite holiday and not just because every few years it falls on my birthday. Thanksgiving is all the good parts of Christmas without any of the hassle of Christmas. There is no stress of buying gifts, no hassle of chimney to cellar decorating. It's just family coming together to eat and enjoy each others company. This was the first time many years I had gone home for the holiday. Because HE often had to work, I stayed put with the kids and we made our own holiday. I won't lie. It was hard not to think that HE should be with us, especially when it was dark and rainy and I was alone with my thoughts while the kids slept in the back seat. It was all I could do not to pick up the phone and tell him how much I missed him and how I wished he was there with me. But it's bad enough that I torture myself, I won't give him any openings to do the same. It was our first Thanksgiving if not divorced legally, divorced emotionally. I stopped in the middle of the night and spent a few hours sleeping over a my cousin's house. We chatted and talked and tried to catch up. Eventually, I made the kids come take a nap and we slept for a few hours before creeping out in the early morning darkness to head out west. Thanks Nat and Joe.
There is always something about the last few miles to your childhood home. The route is so familiar and yet, when you've been gone for a long time, everything and every mile seems like the first time you took the car out after getting your learner's permit. Look at the trees, they really grew. Oh, they painted their house. Of course, none of this matters to your kids and you only further cement your reputation as an addled brained adult.
The kids and I pulled into the farm just before Thanksgiving dinner. The house smelled like home and family. That sort of warm blanket feel you get when you come home. My brother, bless him, had made a special trip home from college so he could see us. It was the only holiday all of my parents kids would be home. It was a lot of driving and he had lots of work to do but that not so little anymore boy still makes me proud. My niece was waiting, not so patiently for her cousins to arrive. The ties of family are mysteriously strong. Despite her many friends, she adores her cousin. By now, the kids are finally old enough that they aren't killing each other, but in our family, loud rambunctious children are considered part of the family tradition. We didn't get to see my aunt and her family this year. But they're all starting their own lives and new families. We all ate too much but we sure had a good time.
The next day was my birthday. The kids are still small enough that their mother's birthday isn't much of a big deal. In fact, it wasn't. I did get them to say happy birthday to me but there were hand-made cards. When we were married, we made sure the kids made a picture or a card for the other on our birthdays. HE apparently never thought much of it since he complained that I never made a big deal out of birthdays and that I never gave him a birthday present in the 10 years we were together. To be honest, no, I don't make a big deal about birthdays and for me, the most important "gift" to give on birthdays is the knowledge that the person is loved and appreciated. For me, all I want is a hug and kiss and a card. Really. I don't want a big production and I don't want some trinket that cost money we don't have and that I really don't like.
Perhaps the hardest part of the day was taking the kids over to see their other grandparents. I knew it was the right thing to do and it was god for the kids. I hated it. I hated every second of being there and being nice and pretending that nothing had changed. I hated having her give me hug when I knew she would just as well drive a knife in my back. I hated the cursory hello from him and how he studiously avoided looking at me, talking to me, or otherwise acknowledging my presence. Oh, hi, it's just my birthday and I could spend the time with my family and I didn't have to spend it by letting you have time with your grandchildren. My sister and I ducked out, went to the coffee shop and had lunch. We browsed the only nice place to shop in town. Obviously, I was shopping on impulse because I spent way too much money on mittens.
The only thing that salvaged the rest of the birthday was meeting Lisa at the local bar. Drinks are cheap and when you go home, usually populated by your own family. I met another cousin and an old acquaintance from high school and we had a grand time. Thanks guys.
The kids and I hauled out early the next day. We did stop to see HIS parents for a short while. And we only had to turn back once, when my son realized he had left video games at my parents. The drive back was much easier, especially since the weather was better and the only major hiccup was a detour about 3 hours from home. But I called HIM and said we were going to be late. He didn't sound terribly concerned. But that was my second I wish HE was here moment, ask I struggled with the map and the traffic jam, and two worried kids and the dark trying to figure out if there was an easier way to avoid the bottleneck.
So, that was Thanksgiving. Far from Rockwell's ideal. But I am thankful for it none the less. My kids and I are doing better. My family and friends have never been stronger. So here's to new traditions.