I wanted to log in this morning and write a touching, eloquent post about the bliss of being surrounded by my little family on our slightly-postponed-Thanksgiving-Day, the fun of domesticity that cooking a turkey breast and all the trimmings brings, the sweet anticipation of an evening of carols and cocoa and decking our halls.
But you know what? Thanksgiving has sucked for me this year. (So far. There are a few hours remaining for possible redemption. I’m not holding out much hope.)
Yesterday, I called my extended family and talked to my mom, dad, brother, and grandmother. My chest tightened with the homesickness that only a holiday apart can inspire. I called the other side of my extended family and got the answering machine. NewDotDad’s parents didn’t call me. I was alone with NDB, and it was a boring, nondescript, tedious day. I missed the whole experience – my grandparents’ tiny house swelling and overflowing with aunts, uncles, and cousins; all the women cramming into the kitchen and around the counter bar talking, laughing, and cooking; the air of detached disdain that the teenaged cousins try to maintain (and lose around the third hour); the raucous laughter and motion of the school-aged cousins tearing through the house; the sweet baby cuddles with the tiny cousins; the good-natured ribbing and recycled, same-old conversations the uncles always have out on the deck. It has been my Thanksgiving tradition for so many years. There are a ton of us on that side of the family – both grandparents are living, and they have five children & four spouses. There are 16 grandchildren, four spouses and one fiance. There are five great-grandchildren. This year, there were also two boyfriends invited (which is usually a very telling sign – the Thanksgiving before NewDotDad proposed to me, he came to my grandmother’s house to meet everyone).
So, a day of laundry and dishes and dinner-for-one was beyond depressing. I was so hoping that having our Thanksgiving today would make up for it. I recorded the Macy’s Parade on our DVR, and we got this morning and turned it on for a while before I started to cook. But NDD wanted to play Xbox instead of watch the parade, and he griped about there being nothing “decent” for breakfast, and he didn’t lift a finger to contribute with NewDotBaby. It was like a normal day of just-the-two-of-us, except with video game noise in the background and the pressure of getting the timing right for all those side dishes.
He “took over” with NDB when I started prepping the turkey, but I found myself getting irritated by what I was overhearing. Instead of getting down on his level and interacting, he was sitting on the couch and, inevitably, NDB was getting bored. (He is *very* capable of entertaining himself for a good period of time – usually 15 to 20 minutes. I encourage him to play alone every day, because I think it’s good for him to build that skill set. But there is a limit to how much a nine-month-old can do alone, you know?) NDD suggested that he go take a nap. Which SOUNDS like a great suggestion by an attentive parent – except for the fact that we are working on transitioning to one nap a day, so I have been focusing on “stretching” NDB to about a four-hour wakeful period. This requires entertaining him and engaging him and distracting him, so that he doesn’t get bored and fussy and overtire himself.
It worked out fine – I got a break in the food prep cycle, and came in to relieve NDD for a while. Playing with Mommy got him over the fussy hump and he was his cheerful, chipper self for the next little while I worked in the kitchen. Finally we made it to the promised land: Naptime! I took a moment to fix my hair and put on a little makeup, and NDD turned the Xbox back on. In a few minutes I’ll go baste the turkey again, and start the last-minutes side dishes. We’ll eat around 1:00 and after we recover (because really, who can manage to NOT overeat on Thanksgiving!?) we’re going to open up our Christmas decorations and start making this place festive.
Hopefully I can get over my sour mood (because yes, I know I sound like a total party pooper, and I know it’s not all NDD’s fault, and no, I don’t have a bottle of wine to open, darn it! because that might have helped, and yes, I do want NDB to have happy holiday memories like I do) and we will end up with a lovely day. I’ll let you know how it goes.