It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year… Mostly

November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love making pumpkin pies and cranberry chutney in anticipation of it. I love gathering with my aunts and uncles and cousins to eat turkey and talk and watch White Christmas. We used to end the day by gathering around the piano to sing Christmas carols. We haven’t done that in years, but I suspect we could pick up where we left off, complete with harmonies. Now, we just content ourselves by singing along with Bing and Rosemary and Danny and Vera. (Not everyone has a piano anymore, anyway.)

To make this year’s Thanksgiving weekend particularly harried for me is that my brother and his family came from Virginia to celebrate. The girls didn’t have school on Wednesday, so they drove through Tuesday night. They did take them out of school so that they could drive back today. But considering we’re looking at kindergarten and second grade, I’m sure they didn’t miss too much.

On Wednesday, to give Matt and Jane some respite, my parents took the girls for the morning. I still had to go to work. But they came to visit. I’ve finally realized why coming to visit me at work is such a big deal. Matt’s old job and current job both require security clearance, so it’s not as though his family can go traipsing through his office willy-nilly. And they’ve been fortunate to have enough income that Jane’s been able to stay at home. They don’t have many relatives who they can visit at the office. I happened to be on the phone when they showed up, but Dr Z was not. I’m not sure if they were entertaining him or vice versa, but they chatted while I finished up my phone call. (Which means they caught me doing actual work when they came to see me at work!) I had enough flex time from Monday and Tuesday that I could leave at 2:30. That was a relief. I’m trying to get back into the swing of working out. Since I have a do-nothing month on the fertility front, I might as well get my routines re-established. Getting off that early gave me enough time to go home, work out, take a shower, and take my time getting re-dressed to go to my parents’ for dinner. Felicity helped me make the pies. We’ll see how they taste. I’m liberal with the spices, and she took my liberal measurements and put in HEAPING teaspoons. I suspect the cinnamon is going to be a tad overwhelming. Not that that’s a bad thing. They’ll still taste good; I just have a feeling the other spices will turn out to have been pointless additions.

The proof that I’m in serious need of some proper time off is that I was already into the swing of letting myself sleep by Thursday. I’m so set in my normal 5:45 wake-up routine that I rarely sleep past 6, even on days that I know I can. I slept until that luxurious (to me) hour of 7. (I’m usually at work by then. So, yeah, it is luxurious.) This year’s festivities were at my cousin’s house. We had to take two cars, so I drove over to my parents’ (this is going to become a recurring theme, so get used to it). We amassed the troops and packed the cars. My parents and my nieces headed off together, and my brother, sister-in-law, his godmother, and I went in the other car. Didn’t particularly matter to me; all that I cared is that I didn’t have to drive. (Yes, we were going to Grand Rapids. It’s a drive that’s gotten a little old.)

For the most part, our family Thanksgivings can be described as fun but uneventful. We don’t all get together that often, and Thanksgiving is one of the few times we spend all day together, which gives everyone plenty of time to catch up with everyone else. We sit around and talk. Once everyone who is coming has assembled, we say grace (usually the traditional Catholic blessing), and then we dig in. Sometimes we serve family style, sometimes as a buffet. We eat and talk and talk and eat. As people get full, they start to disperse which allows for people to swap their seats and talk to someone else. After the Lions lose (’cause, really, we don’t expect them to win), we put in the video and gather around to recite all of White Christmas while eating dessert. (We all try to hold off watching it until we get together. We don’t always succeed. And no, I’m not just talking about myself.) We don’t have those dreadful stories of drunk Uncle Lou telling racist jokes around the dinner table or Aunt Madge who can’t sit next to Aunt Ginger because they stopped talking to each other in 1973. This year we did have Payton being very concerned about what Emily and Felicity were going to wear because she didn’t want to wear pants if they were wearing skirts. (Ah, the joys of being three-and-a-half!)

And we did have one of my aunts announce that our tradition has had a good run, but since she doesn’t want to host anymore and nobody likes turkey anyway, it’s time for us to stop having Thanksgiving dinner. We’ll just have Thanksgiving dessert instead. And maybe a ham. And, of course, if someone else wants to host a Thanksgiving dinner, that’s fine. We can go there and then go to her place for dessert. Yes, she did effectively propose a progressive dinner for Thanksgiving. And for the record, I like turkey. And I don’t like ham. Needless to say, this pronouncement was met with a lot of silence. My mom did speak up to defend how our current traditions had initially begun, but that was all. And to use my mother’s words, shortly thereafter, all the able-bodied women went for a walk. (As we were gathering ourselves, the aforementioned aunt did say to me that she could tell she’d broken my heart. I told her that I was not heartbroken, but that I found her statement to be rather presumptuous and if she didn’t want to host dinner then she didn’t have to, but that was different than never having Thanksgiving dinner ever again.)

At any rate, my other two aunts, my mom, Rita, Jane, and I headed out. One of my aunts and Rita both have some health issues at the moment, so they turned around at the end of the block. This left the youngest of my aunts, my mom, Jane, and me. We wound up walking for about three miles. And whilst we were doing that, we made our plans for next year’s Thanksgiving. It will be at another of my cousins’ houses. And if the aunt who announced we’re only going to do dessert doesn’t want to come for dinner, she doesn’t have to. But the rest of us aren’t ready to stop having turkey just because she doesn’t want to host anymore. (If you haven’t been paying attention, please note that we weren’t at her house this year, either.)

I was a little sad that my nieces didn’t have the attention span to watch the entire movie, but they are still pretty young, and old movies don’t move with the pace that most current ones do. (Not to mention the fact that, as much as I love it, White Christmas really isn’t that great of a movie. It was panned when it first came out.) They did watch part of the Lions game and were disappointed when they lost and confused by the fact the rest of us weren’t upset. The game went into overtime, so it was better than most of the Lions’ Thanksgiving Day games. This did, however, mean that we were a bit later starting the movie than we might normally have. My parents took my nieces back to Kalamazoo before it was over. My brother and I agreed that we were going to stay until it was done. (There was only about a half-hour left anyway.) As usual, it took a Minnesota goodbye to get everyone out of the house. We have a big family; there are a lot of people to hug.

And with that, I drove back to my flat to go to bed.

Friday, I slept in until after 7. It was, maybe, 7:10! (And, of course, I immediately thought of how hard it was going to be to get out of bed on Monday…) The plan for Friday was to go to the planetarium and then back to my place for lunch. Instead of winding up with three cars to park downtown, Matt and Jane came to pick me up. I ran upstairs to say hello to the mummy and check out the new history exhibit. I forced myself to walk through it without reading everything and playing with everything. Yes, it was torture, but I didn’t want to get absorbed and miss the planetarium show. It was when we were waiting for the doors to open that Jane got a text from her sister. Her husband had fallen off a roof (he does/did chimney work for a living). Probable spinal cord injury, possible brain injury, very few details. We couldn’t tell the girls there, and definitely not until we knew more. My parents and I took the girls into the planetarium show while Matt and Jane tried to get more details. (Jane’s from England, by the way, so her sister is currently thousands of miles away.) My dad and I took the girls back to my place to start making lunch. We had a lovely risotto with squash and caramelized bacon. But there was that tension in the air. Matt and Jane headed back to my parents’ while we took the girls out for frozen yogurt for dessert. We then went back to the house (yes, this means another drive to my parents’!), Matt and Jane told the girls about what happened. We set them to coloring pictures to cheer up their aunt and uncle. All of us tried not to cringe as Felicity merrily drew a picture of her uncle falling off a roof and her aunt below to catch him. We had to keep telling ourselves that it was healthy that she was doing it. Absolutely no way in hell was that picture going to be sent, but it was good that she was drawing about it. And, yes, he is going to be okay in the whole scheme of things. The break, as far as we’ve been told, is low, so the current diagnosis is paraplegia. On Friday, we were anticipating the worst, so paraplegia is not that bad.

I stayed for dinner, and then, surprise surprise, went back to my flat to go to bed. Felicity did ask where I was going. We pointed out that she’d seen my bed earlier that day. That was okay.

Saturday? You guessed it! I slept until about 7, lounged around for a bit, and then headed off to my parents’. The girls had been so enthralled by the museum, that we’d briefly discussed changing today’s plans, but they decided they still wanted to go to the Creature Feature at the Nature Center. One of my dad’s very elderly cousins (in his 90s) passed away earlier this week, so he was off to the funeral. I rode with my mom and the girls, and Matt and Jane drove separately. As we were walking down the path to the interpretive center, Emily announced that she didn’t see much nature. We pointed out to her that we were surrounded by nature. She came back from that quite admirably by saying that she was just testing us. As the girls ran on ahead, my mom and I tried not to laugh out loud. We were surrounded by trees, but there wasn’t much nature! The Creature Feature turned out to be not at all what we expected. We thought it would be an actual program, but it wasn’t. Some animals were brought out, and an interpreter was there to talk about them, but it was more of a drop-in thing. It didn’t hold the girls attention for long. What did hold their attention was watching the aquatic animals get fed. Felicity even held a guppy in her hands. (And, yeah, all of the adults had a lot of fun watching, too.) One of Matt’s KAMSC classmates and her husband and daughter met us there. The three of us all figured we hadn’t been to the Nature Center since we were in high school. My parents are members and keep getting free passes. I may have to start going more regularly again. (We used to go all the time when we were kids. We were all members back then.) They have this spot with desks that look out on the forest. It’s a beautiful place to sit and write. (And if I really wanted coffee, they have a Keurig, so I could buy/make a cup.)

My nieces wanted to go to church, and I had wound up parked in front of my parents’ car, so I left at the same time they did. I figured I’d go home, have dinner, watch a little Hulu, maybe write a little. (I did write some on Wednesday, but I’d taken Thursday and Friday off.) I hit a bit of a snag. As I was driving down Stadium, all of the lights were out. There was absolutely no power. It was quite eerie. The street is lined with car dealerships and fast food joints, and they were all dark. I almost missed the turn to get to my complex. Fortunately, I was raised by my mother who taught blind children. I do know how to unlock a door when I can’t see the lock. This is good. It was almost pitch black in the hallway. I pulled out my phone and used its flashlight to locate my real flashlight. (It’s been living on my kitchen counter since I moved. I think it might stay there. It made it really easy to find.) I got out a few candles and used my phone to see if Consumers had an ETA on when power would be restored. They didn’t. But it had only been out for about thirty minutes. I read by flashlight for a bit, but it was starting to get cold, and I was getting hungry, so I faced a dilemma. Do I go back to my parents’? Or do I go out to eat? And if I decide on the latter, where do I go? Anyplace close by was in the outage zone. I kept checking my phone, hoping for an estimated time. When the power had been out for more than an hour and there was still no estimate, I decided it would be cheaper to take my dinner to zap in my parents’ microwave. The reason I hadn’t wanted to go back to my parents’ was because I knew what would happen. The girls would be put to bed, and the grown-ups would get to talking, and I wouldn’t want to go home. I can’t remember exactly how late I stayed, but I think it was almost 9. The good news is that I did know my power would be on by the time I got there. (Of course, it had probably been back on for an hour by the time I got home.)

Sunday I woke up closer to my normal time and forced myself to get out of bed. But I did allow myself to take a nap at 9. I didn’t need to be to my parents’ until lunchtime anyway. The fourth Sunday of the month is knitting group. I wouldn’t have planned on it, but since my nieces were in town, I knew they’d want to go. Only one other knitting group member was there, so I gave her fair warning that if she saw one of my nieces drawing her uncle falling off a roof, it was okay. The girls did a good job. They colored and read. We were alone in the upstairs room at the Black Owl Café, so they played the piano for us. It was a lovely two hours. Matt and Jane had gone out by the time we got back to the house. I was ready to head home, and I am sorry that I didn’t get to see them to say goodbye. (I told the girls to please give them big hugs and kisses from me.) Felicity read me a story, and then I gave them hugs and kisses and drove home.

I can’t recall exactly which day it was that Emily asked me if Dr Z was a real doctor. I told her that he is. She told me she thought maybe it was just a name we called him, like Dr Seuss. Too cute of a story not to share.

And today? Today I was back to work. Or at least I was back to my office. I spent a lot of time staring and being unproductive today. I thought I’d get sorted through my inbox, but I didn’t. That will have to wait until tomorrow, I guess. The long weekend was so busy that all I wanted today was a nap. I woke up with the grandest of plans. I was going to come home, put a load of laundry in the washer, work out, transfer the load to the dryer, take a shower, fold the laundry, and then write the massively long blog post that you’ve been reading. Yeah. I’d forgotten that I really needed gas. And I could last one more day without doing laundry. And I didn’t work out, either. (I have written the massively long blog post. So at least I accomplished one thing! Okay, and buying gas was a good thing to do, too. And the price had come down since yesterday, so it was good on many levels.)

So my plan for tomorrow is to come home, do laundry, and work out. Hopefully I’ll feel more up to it tomorrow. I also expect to reach my NaNo goal tomorrow. Less than 2,000 more words to go!

And that was my Thanksgiving. It was long and busy. And despite some massive downs, for the most part it was a happy time. Which is good. It should be the hap-happiest season of all!

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