Luckily I was able to head home for the holidays early– Wednesday evening, following the longest three days of work in recent history. I was looking forward to a long weekend since I haven’t had PTO since July (I know, way too long), and I was pleasantly surprised that the four days didn’t fly by for once.
I was able to wake up early on Thanksgiving Day, gather all of the veggies I’d prepared the night before for my veggie tray and all the odd spices for my new wassail recipe, and head over to Galion to my grandparents’ house.
Only ever having one set of grandparents, there has never really been any question as to where our family spends the holidays. I love the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and was really looking forward to watching it with my grandpa as we waited for everyone to arrive. I really enjoy seeing the new shows to hit Broadway and the high school marching bands, but this year I was a little disappointed with both. There wasn’t really a parade highlight for me, and my grandpa wasn’t feeling well so I ended up watching it alone. Not exactly the Thanksgiving morning I’d had in mind.
The family filtered in during the next couple of hours with my brothers getting caught up in traffic on the way in from Columbus. Aside from that, the day went per usual; everyone ate lunch around the crisp, linen-covered dining room table, everyone dispersed to play video/computer games, watch funny movies, hang lights on Grandpa’s barn and exchange gift ideas. Nothing out of the ordinary, but nothing that really made me feel close to the only people I’m supposed to feel close to, really.
Just after dinner, I headed out to pick up the boyfriend from his parents’ house. He and his brother had gone hunting with their dad early in the morning so he was without a vehicle and didn’t think it would hurt for me to stop by and see his family for a few minutes before we headed back to his house for the evening. Unfortunately, it did hurt.
I walked into the house and was greeted by a three-year-old cousin looking to steal my boots, yelling and laughing from several people in the kitchen snacking on leftover appetizers, the sound of a guitar and bass with a few voices carrying out the melody drifting in from the living room and a big hug and Thanksgiving wishes before I even got my coat off.
It’s not that my family isn’t loving– they are, but in a very controlled way. I know they love me, and I love them, but we don’t have to act out to show each other. We just get together during the holidays and on the occasional weekend when we’re all in town. I talk to my mom nearly every day, but I only interact with my brothers and grandparents on a monthly basis, if that, and I rarely see or hear from my aunts, uncles or cousins unless it’s a holiday, graduation, wedding or funeral. I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with any of that– it’s probably not all that uncommon– and I don’t even think about it much except when I experience the boyfriend’s family.
They interact on a daily, if not hourly, basis and despite the many dysfunctional aspects of their relationships, they come together and have a loud, crazy time. They’re not perfect, and I’m sure their setup isn’t uncommon either, but part of me always feels the distinct difference I feel when I’m in the midst of all their chaos than in the heart of my family’s calm.
Some people have to travel all over for the holidays with loved ones out of town, state and country. Some people don’t have any where to go. I’m lucky in that once I head down to the area where I grew up, everyone is pretty much within 15 minutes of each other and that between my family and the boyfriend’s, I probably have the best of both worlds.
Most importantly, at the center of those worlds is the person that keeps everything together– the person I can be with and always know I fit, the person I can act out around or maintain calm around, the person I want to be with on an ongoing basis and the person that I hope I get to create new family traditions with– both the crazy and the collected. This Thanksgiving didn’t go quite as I expected, but it gave me a lot to think about, especially about how my life has changed over the past four plus years and how thankful I am that I have him in my life.
What are you thankful for?