Let me start by saying I love Thanksgiving. I love the ritual of re-creating family recipes every year, I love getting family and friends together, I love the women gathered in the kitchen, drinking wine and sharing family stories, and I especially love that moment when we all finally sit down together around the table, thankful to be there together, in that moment, and for all the many things that we have to be grateful for in our lives.
But, this Thanksgiving, though I find myself ready to get into the holiday spirit, I also find myself with a family divided. Without nearby family to descend on with my two sons, Thanksgiving has suddenly become a daunting prospect. That is, it was daunting—until I decided to take the path of least resistance.
My husband, along with his family and our eldest son, flew out on Tuesday for a special event in the UK (where Thanksgiving isn’t even a blip on the radar, I might add). Extraneous circumstances like budget constraints (five tickets to the UK after our recent move back from said country? Ouch!), over-booked grandparents, and my lack of desire to drive any great length with our two younger boys had rendered me a single parent with nary a plan for turkey day.
I suppose I could’ve tried to shoehorn our party of three into a friend’s celebration, but I find that a gathering of misfit families for a holiday dinner are best when they happen authentically — either planned months ahead or at the absolute last second. I knew we were going to be home alone for almost two months, and hadn’t done a thing to try and make a plan come together, with friends or otherwise.
Actually, I don’t have a clue where families like mine fall in the spectrum of “invite-able” Thanksgiving dinner guests, it’s not tradition in Wisconsin to ask all your friends what they’re doing and if they’d like to pop around for dinner. I chalk that up to the fact that so many people here are natives and have extended family to celebrate with, …or maybe it’s our age (to which I say: Screw 40 if it means giving up impromptu dinner guests!). Either way, I am crystal clear in my knowledge that I did not want to ask myself over to crash a friend’s family dinner. Nor was I going to sit around waiting for an invitation, feeling hurt if none were forthcoming—or, what I like to refer to as, the perfect recipe for passive-aggressively ruining a holiday.
When I came up with the brilliant idea to have our Thanksgiving-for-three at an indoor water park resort just 45 minutes away from our house, I tweeted the news (as one does) and immediately heard from other mothers who opted for Thanksgiving holidays away from home when facing a traditionally family-filled holiday without a husband or parents. They confirmed my hopes that a stress-free, child-friendly, activity-filled Thanksgiving Day away would make for a fantastic day and that my kids would remember it as a special departure from the ordinary, not a consolation prize for the kids with nowhere else to go, like I secretly feared.
Whatever happens tomorrow, I am finding solace in the fact that I couldn’t be less anxiety-ridden about a holiday that usually finds me freaking out the night before because I don’t have the proper amount of pies finished.
For that, and for so many other things, I am going to spend tomorrow being grateful for all the blessings in my life—and probably constantly reminding my children to take a moment to be thankful, too.
Photo credit: ©DiscoverDuPage via flickr. Image taken at Mayan Adventure Indoor Waterpark by Holiday Inn-Chicago, Elmhurst.
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