It's funny how things work out. I've been planning a big, meaningful Thanksgiving post, sort of noncommittally, in my head for awhile. You know, tossing around ideas, throwing together lovely phrases. To be completely honest, this is just how my mind thinks. In written language, if that makes any sense. When people speak, my mind displays happily punctuated sentences with quotation marks and commas. It's rather embarrassing when I mistakenly tag on, out loud, "he said ominously," to the end of someone's sentence. They always look so appalled. That's how I figured out that I'm weird.
Anyway, I had been thinking out some possible blogs for the big holiday. Possibly about how every year for as long as I can remember, my family stays home on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, eats pizza, and watches A Christmas Story. For some reason, my dad always insisted that part of the tradition was to also watch Jeremiah Johnson. No one was on board with this, and I'm pretty sure it never happened. But the rest of it we were faithful to. I can't remember when it started, but I do know that my brother invented it. He lived for fast food opportunities: KFC, McDonald's, and, above all else, pizza. He also believed, like many others though for a long time I thought it was just him, that Thanksgiving signaled the beginning of Christmas, hence the movie choice. My brother loves Christmas. As I look back, a lot of the magic came from how excited my generally surly older sibling became around the holidays.
But we've all grown up now. We've gotten married, had our own children. Anyone who reads this blog regularly or knows me at all knows that my family is still extremely close, but somehow, getting all of us together at once is not easy anymore. It's sort of miserably hectic. Still, we try. It's just that I can't remember a Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving in the last five years that has actually worked out. I might be wrong. I might just be remembering the stress of planning it. Would anyone be sick? Who had a cold? Was somebody working late? Out of town? Maybe everyone did show up, but all I can think of was the back-and-forth phone calls: Is Pauly coming? Are you coming? So-and-so's got a bad cough. You get the idea.
And then last week, before any planning could ensue, Noah got this weird cold. My husband caught it, but then it morphed into something gross and worse. On Monday, I fainted in the middle of a preschool Thanksgiving Feast. It wasn't even my own child's feast. And I did, I mean it, I really fainted. Stars to darkness to eyes opening in a preschool bathroom. I was sitting on a tiny chair looking at a tiny toilet.
Based on the other symptoms that sprang up quickly, we thought it was kidney stones, but no, not stones, just an infection. Aren't I lucky? I spent two days in bed, shivering with chills and a fever and feeling more horrible than I have in quite awhile.
Today was the first day I was feeling better. Joe has been home helping me with the boys all week, convenient for recovering from his icky cold, and Joey got out of school early. We were all kind of lounging when my mom called. She said, "Are you coming for pizza?"
I'd totally forgotten. I don't know how. It's been ingrained in me for years. Even back before we had kids and the Thing To Do was go out and party on the night before Thanksgiving, it was always a given that we'd at least have pizza at Mom's first. But in the middle of, well, just regular life, I forgot.
Everyone arrived at my mom's house within minutes of each other, including my mom carrying the several boxes of food. My sister Jane has a cold and I suspect my brother does, too, though I don't think he'd ever tell me because he thinks I'm weird about germs (I am, but here's a secret: he was the first germophobe, I swear!). Everyone looked a little worn out, but do you know what? We also looked really happy. Pauly and I joked and rolled our eyes all night at how my dad turns every phrase into a song. Joe was like, "That's a weird song your dad is singing," and I said, "No, that's just a thing he does. He's singing that because someone said those words from that song." And Pauly said, "She's tells you that like it's normal." But to us, it is.
Our kids raced back and forth through the kitchen while we sat around the table. Jane and I reminisced about a phase she went through where she L. OVED. cinnamon ice cream, but the only place to find it was at this restaurant down the road where the waiter was in love with her. Oddly, he thought she loved him, too. He had a horse. And once, he climbed into the booth with my sister's friend, somehow commandeered her spoon, and swirled the ice cream around in the bowl while talking about the horse. Jane's friend, if you're wondering, had NOT been done eating yet.
I've been kind of sad thinking about Thanksgiving this year, honestly, because it's a year I have to spend away from my parents. We alternate back and forth, one year at my parents' and one year at Joe's. This is a Joe's family year. We love them and it will be a nice holiday, but, well, when you grow up in a close family, you know that it's just never quite the same. For us, it's almost like our minds are slightly out of step, our hearts lose a rhythm. When we all come together again, everything lines up right. I bet if my sister is reading this, she is rolling her eyes, but she knows it's true. It's how we were raised. It's what we are all about. We've grown up. We have our lives: jobs, families, homes of our own, friends of our own. But no matter where we are or what we do, we are always a part of this thing that is just ours.
So all my planning has gone out the window. Because I was surprised tonight by everything aligning just right without any effort. I was with all the people in the world I love the most, smiling and laughing. Even though I was sick all week and miserable, they made me happy, and even better, they made me feel like myself again.
Whatever your family, your friends, or your celebration, be thankful for the way things work out when you least expect them. I know I have so much to thank God for this year and every day. Happy Thanksgiving.