For all the years I could think of, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday. I really could not tell you why – it just is.
As a kid we would get into the car and drive for two hours until we got to my Aunt’s home in New Jersey. The car ride was boring. The visit was boring. There were never any other kids other than my sister and myself; our cousin was significantly older than us.
I really enjoyed it.
I am not sure if it was because it meant Christmas was right around the corner and Santa ALWAYS hooked us up.
But as I have got older I seem to enjoy it less and less. These days, every other year, I found myself in a car with my husband and children for close to 20 hours during the week of Thanksgiving traveling to Ohio, where my husband’s extended family resides. I look forward to the time off from work, but it is always one of the longest weeks for me.
We usually tend to leave for Ohio a few days before Thanksgiving and find ourselves coming back late on Sunday with school and work starting back up promptly on Monday morning. I get my husband’s view on it, it’s a long drive to make for one day to just turn around and come back. I also understand that this is family that he typically only gets to see during this time of year. But, over the years, he has learned that I cannot come back late on Sunday especially when I am expected back at work on Monday.
This Thanksgiving, I am sitting in bed in a hotel room in Pittsburgh with a 13-year-old boy who spent the better part of the morning throwing up. While my husband and daughter continued on to Ohio today. (It made no sense for four of use to hang around in a hotel room.) The plan for this week, instead of spending extended time in Ohio with family and coming home completely exhausted…. was to stay in Pittsburgh. Visit with the husband’s cousin who resides here, go to Ohio for the “big day”, check out Pittsburgh on Friday and head home on Saturday.
What is it that they say about the best made plans….
There is no turkey this year. There is no “dressing up”. There are no family photos. There are no fake smiles. There is no small talk. There is no gossip. This year there is just house keeping to empty a puke filled trash can and replenish towels while binge watching something called the Hallmark Channel. (Instagram is full of stories by women obsessed with this cheesy ass channel.) It also includes several trips to the hotel convenience store for snacks…. all in pajamas.
All of this got me thinking about the holidays and how exhausting they are for me. The obligations and expectations. How it’s not how it was when I was a kid. Or even ten years ago.
A few days before Thanksgiving, out of nowhere, I get a message from my mother asking me what I was getting my brother-in-law for Christmas. While packing for Ohio, I received a forwarded email from my mother which included my sister’s Christmas list. My sister is almost 30 years old. A few weeks ago, my sister was asking me what I was getting my parents.
I think the joy of the holidays is shopping for those you love. Picking out gifts you think they would like. Not picking off of a list. Or spending money on gifts that don’t actually get used or acknowledged.
I want to really enjoy this time of year. The internet tells me it’s the best time of the year. I don’t mind the gift giving, but if I have to pick something off a list, or tell you what I would like – what fun is that. I’d much rather just keep it very simple, and just spend time with my family… without all the EXTRA.
Right now, I don’t have the extra, and it’s been pretty nice. Just being corny with my kid who finally stopped throwing up.