Here we are, the Monday after Thanksgiving. Many have mixed emotions today. Some wake in dread of another Monday of the work week. Some are just plain exhausted and want a few days to rest before returning to work and some are happy to get back to a normal routine after four days of out of the ordinary stuff.
This year, my boyfriend and I drove to Virginia to share Thanksgiving with my children and grandchildren. There are a lot of changes just in the fact that we went. #1: We never travel on Thanksgiving. #2: We never leave our state on Thanksgiving. #3: We have never actually gone on a road trip together. #4: We have never been in one house with 14 people for three straight days. #5: We have never spent Thanksgiving with all my kids and grandkids and their spouses and my ex-husband.
That’s a lot of new things to experience in a three day period, especially for my boyfriend who is a homebody. It was completely out of his comfort zone. Let’s break this whole thing down step by step. #1: I have always heard that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the most heavily traveled day of the year. For the most part, the travel was fine because it was 95% interstate travel but we came upon an accident within the last 50 miles of our 7 hour journey. The whole dynamic changed at that point due to being tired, cranky, hungry and the disappointment of being almost there but you have to wait a little longer. The trip back home was awful in a whole new way. Driving rain followed us from Virginia all the way back to New Jersey along with temperatures hovering around 32 degrees in the mountainous regions. Visibility was almost non-existent. On top of that, My boyfriend was having stomach issues and was unable to eat for the two days after Thanksgiving. So, he was tired, weak, and hungry. He hates to drive so he’s not the best road trip partner to have. There was no singing in the rain. I believe that I have just covered points 1 through 3.
Point number 4: The house we stayed in was an open floor concept with three bedrooms. There wasn’t any extra beds so we all brought air mattresses. Bedroom number one was extra big so we fit two queen air mattresses in there to inhabit my daughter and her husband and my son and his wife. Sounds all fine and good until you get one person who snores enough to activate the richter scale. Much laughter came from those stories in that room. There was even video evidence of my daughter-in-law sleeping so deep that she didn’t realize my son was sticking his finger up her nose. We move on to Bedroom number two where my boyfriend and I slept. That was a master bedroom with a beautiful garden tub in the master bath. When other people can’t sleep during the night, what’s a person to do but get a bath in that glorious tub. So, people would come in and out throughout the night as we tried to sleep. But sleeping on our air mattress was a struggle in itself. There must have been a slow leak because during the night, I would roll over into this deep dark hole in the middle. It was like a bad water bed. But we survived. Moving on, the living room was sleep central for my son, daughter-in-law and 5 grandchildren with three air mattresses and a couch. Usually well after I went to bed there were shenanigans in the living room. The third bedroom is where my ex-husband slept.
As I stated before, the living room, kitchen and dining room are all open concept so there was movement of one form or another throughout the night.
During the day and evenings all kinds of crazy took place and that is where the magic happened. Silly games, kids shouting, adults laughing and mudslides going down nice and easy. One night was craft night, so we took over all the tables as we each made our own Christmas wreaths.
Thanksgiving day was amazing. There were no rules, not just one person cooking. We each decided to make a specific dish. Much to my surprise, we each were able to share the kitchen and we worked like a well oiled machine in bringing the meal together. My two sons were outside frying the turkey in a turkey fryer while the rest of us were working on the ham and side dishes. We placed the food out on the island in the kitchen and gathered around in a circle to share our individual gratitudes which was followed by such a heartfelt, sincere prayer by my son. There was one person missing this year and that was my former mother-in-law who passed away in September. We were in her kitchen, in her home and as we gathered, we knew her spirit was right there with us celebrating a very momentous occasion that she would have loved.
The things that made this gathering extraordinary were the gathering of all the sects of this family. Being able to have 5 of my grandchildren together. We came together from all different states. We all traveled to be together because we wanted to. Everyone got to meet my daughter’s new husband and my daughter got to spend this time with her father. After Christmas my daughter will be deployed overseas. This gathering was a very necessary one, full of love, laughter and joy. We came together despite differences in circumstances, living proximity and time restraints. We were one family unit, the support system for my daughter and I believe, the best send off team anyone could ask for.
As we said our goodbyes, we shared our love and prayers with each other. We shared our blessings with my daughter on her journey. We bonded as a family to a level that we haven’t reached before. The word grateful cannot begin to describe the experiences of this holiday.
My heart is so full that I believe it can explode. The explosion will consist of joy, peace, tranquility and love and my intention for this outburst is to let it all fall on everyone I come in contact with. I share my explosion with all of you. Please pass it on.
As far as the mixed emotions regarding this Monday after Thanksgiving; My boyfriend was filled with dread to start another Monday work week. I am thrilled to be back home and welcome my daily routine. I also have a sadness in my heart with having to say goodbye to my daughter for an extended period of time as she serves our country away from home. For the most part, I think everyone was thankful to be back to their own homes and beds. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we came away from this Thanksgiving with new love, respect and a stronger bond with each other.
I don’t want to lose this feeling of family joy so I will choose to keep it close in my heart and reignite it each and every day.