Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanks

I exited at the mile marked 50 and drove quickly toward home. I grinned when I saw the neighborhood remained littered with garbage bags and recycling bins and made a mental note to take my trash to the curb before leaving for a business trip tomorrow morning.

Last week, I turned down two lovely and local invitations in favor of trekking home with Creature Big and Creature Small. Creature Small found himself locked out of the basement and all three bedrooms upstairs first thing Thursday morning, showing his stripey displeasure by yowling at the top of his lungs while Chienne happily scampered toward the car and took her spot in the front seat.

“I know,” I told Sprout even as he yelled at me and dug his claws into the carpet as I lifted him into my arms. “You don’t like to go. But you’ll get lonely here all by yourself for a week. So to grandmother’s house you go, buddy.”

We made excellent time, finding few fellow travelers on Thanksgiving morning. My plan had been to make the trip on Wednesday but I got stuck at work on the day I’d officially taken off and was headachey, irritable and exhausted upon arriving home. So I decided to wait a day, and, as I sped through the gloomy morning, was rather glad I did.

I arrived home to find tight hugs and pies baking. As Chienne offered frantically loving greetings to my parents, I broke off a piece of pie crust sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and poured a cup of coffee before perching on the couch next to Mom. We talked, catching up on personal stories and watching local and national ones on television so we could offer expert commentary.

It was just after noon when I asked, still clad in stripey pajama pants and a t-shirt speckled with tiny holes, if we should get ready. Mom and Dad indicated they already were, leaving me to pad down the hall and slip into jeans and sweater. We packed up the pies (apple, pumpkin and cherry) and head off to Aunt and Uncle’s house.

“We won’t have enough,” Dad reported sadly upon walking in and setting the pies on the counter. “There are five of us and we only have 3 pies. So if everyone wants some, we’ll have to share. Like animals.”

Mom might have been abashed for her abundance if she’d been born to another family, but that’s just how we roll. On Thanksgiving, there are three kinds of pies. Also, Aunt began to remove dish after dish from the oven and refrigerator until the table was filled with corn and green bean casserole, rolls and a whole (though modest) turkey, stuffing and a huge green salad, cranberries and olives and potatoes – sweet and mashed.

After folding our hands and bowing our heads, Aunt said grace and we soon began to pass dishes and talk. Uncle is almost completely deaf but I soon remembered to keep my hands away from my lips when I talked and make sure he could see my mouth. We giggled and complained and ate and ate. Once full, I refilled water and wine glasses and began to clear the table.

I felt wonderfully relaxed and happy as I scraped ick into the garbage and rinsed the dishes before finding them a spot in the dishwasher. Standing there, mere steps from my family in Aunt’s open kitchen, I realized I didn’t feel miserable about being there alone. I knew Brother and my cousins were with their respective partners but felt oddly un-pathetic as we continued to converse.

I’m resigned to remaining alone, I realized and accepted the sharp pain that resulted in that acknowledgment. And though I still feel less than grateful that Thanksgiving triggers that for me, I seem to be growing out of the desire to sit alone and weep over my terrible misfortune. I can grow up and appreciate what is rather than wallowing in what won’t be.

I woke this morning, patted Chienne as she cuddled closer and wriggled out of the daybed to join Mom in the living room. Dawn was still at least an hour away but the Christmas tree sparkled in the darkness as I flopped down on the couch across the room from where she was curled on the loveseat.

“I was coughing,” she said and I nodded – I’d heard her. “I don’t want to go shopping,” she continued and I grinned and said thank you. She smiled back at me and we sat, mostly quiet, and stared at the lights and ornaments decorating our tree.

Ones – Little and Smallest – arrived in pajamas and sneakers at 8. They were dressed in layers a few hours later, all of us buckled in the van as we headed downtown for the parade. There’s something magical about watching tiny bemittened hands waving back at firemen on the truck. I watched Smallest One perched on Brother’s shoulders, her mouth forming the name of the red character that walked down the street, waving madly when Elmo glanced her way. Little One, pretty as a princess, watched quietly for the most part. She waved and smiled when I adjusted her hat over her ears. She curled closer when I sat next to her on the curb, only to pop up when the next band or float slowly moved past.

Little One unbuckled herself and bounced out of the van when we were safely parked in the driveway at home. She scampered off, leaving me to think she’s getting to be such a big girl. Smallest One, conversely, had worn herself out, remaining soundly asleep even as I unfastened the multiple restraints on her carseat and scooped her out to hand to Dad.

“Boppy,” she demanded sleepily as he carried her inside. “Boppy, PawPaw.” So while she curled up in the bed I’d vacated that morning, pacifier lying safely beside her and pink blankie clutched in her hand, Little One and I colored Christmas pictures in the book I’d brought for them.

I soon leaned over to give hugs and kisses, deciding to make the drive in daylight rather than fretting over deer fleeing under cover of night. Chienne stood next to my mom, her snout visible even in the dim light in the corner of the kitchen that leads to the garage. Once I backed out, I rolled my window down to wave at Little One and her grandpa as they stood on the porch to wave. Chienne and Mom waited inside the glass door and I sighed sadly before driving away.

I’m now home – just for the evening – and I hate it here without the animals. So I thought I’d distract myself with a blog post and finish packing before taking a bath and getting some sleep. While I hope I find time to post while I’m away – at least toss you some photos – I’m unsure if I’ll find time.

3 comments:

Psych Post Doc said...

Safe travels. Glad you got to spend some time with your family over the holiday.

In Between the Lines said...

Sounds like you enjoyed a lovely time. I hope your trip is just as good

JustMe said...

sounds like you had a great thanksgiving, yay!

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