Thanksgiving will be good this year. I will make sure of it.
There is an extraordinary amount of thought that goes into our holiday planning. Mostly, it’s just trying to remember whose turn it is to have the kids.
It’s an even year, so that’s us, right?
Well, we had them last year.
Oh, wait, no, he had them for Spring Break, and that means it is our turn for Thanksgiving.
The kids remember. Every detail. From what time they got to their dad’s house, to what they ate, to who sat next to them at the table, to the funny joke they told that made one of them laugh so hard they farted.
Their uproarious recollection sends them into fits of laughter that can’t be contained by their chairs. They roll on the floor, and one kid, naturally, lets one go. Now tears fill their eyes as they fight for breath and I smile and shake my head, thankful that they remember the holidays this way.
Thanksgiving will be good this year. The kids help plan the menu. Pumpkin pie is #1s only request, just lots of pumpkin pie. You got it, kiddo. We’ll have pie, and whipped cream, and ice cream, and it will be awesome. #2 wants dumplings! He can help mix the batter. His dimples show when we talk about all the decadent foods, when he thinks of the spread, and I swear I could fill those little buttons with dipping sauce and just eat him up. #3 doesn’t care. There will be food, right? Sweet. Can I play outside now? Sure, bud. I chuckle. He will be the one to say he doesn’t like anything come Thanksgiving Day. But I know this, and I know he will eat more than anyone.
I remember last year. I remember sending you off on the Friday before Thanksgiving, knowing you would have fun spending time with your dad and stepmom, seeing your other siblings, snuggling with your grandma and grandpa, playing with your cousins. My smile beamed as I gave you big, big hugs and told you to have a wonderful time and that I couldn’t wait to hear all about it when you got home. I remember you smiling back and saying you wished we could all be together but you would see me soon. I remember how you turned and waved as the car drove away. I remember the weight that came off when my brave mask and my smile fell away.
I only count the holidays when you’re home.
It’s been awhile now. It’s still hard.
But you’re old enough to see it now, aren’t you? It’s hard to watch your body tense up when the conversations about houses and plans start to come up. I see how you carry guilt in your eyes to mirror the sadness in mine. It’s not yours to carry, love. It’s not yours to bear.
Thanksgiving will be good this year. We’ll invite the family over. We’ll cook and laugh and sing. We’ll bring down the Christmas decorations because Black Friday is for White Christmases in our house, and our house is full when you are home.
And we won’t talk about Christmas break yet. We won’t spoil this moment. Because Thanksgiving will be good this year.