This Thanksgiving is so different than last year's dinner, when we tried very hard to put on smiles and reassurances that we were just fine when we really were not, when we at my aunt's house and snuggled on the couch while everyone around us talked and laughed and rushed back to the hotel after Lil E was bitten by a crabby, old dog. It was all too much because it was a big metaphor for how our lives were then -- moving through days as best as we could, mustering as much celebration as we could and then letting the tears come when they did. Thankfully, that part is over. Or over enough.
I did cry when I realized that the holiday schedule I wrote as a part of our parenting agreement designated this Thanksgiving weekend entirely to Lil E's dad. But then, I put that all together in the middle of all the holiday ups and downs last year, so my reasoning is not completely clear to me today. This year, though, I cried and then I breathed. And then I made a list of all the things I could do while Lil E was spending four days with his dad in the suburbs. I could visit a friend in Portland, I could rearrange my living room, I could hibernate in a little coffee shop until the writing I've been putting off is finally done. I could sleep in, meet up with friends for a burlesque show and cocktails. I could, I could, I could... And it helped to have all those possibilities listed in front of me. If this is the way it would be -- and it is -- then I would choose to not just take the break from my regular, chaotic life, but to really use the time I have.
So I have plans. Not too many plans, but enough here and there to make me feel part of the world and not too many that I can't hide out from the world this weekend, too. I'm not getting on a plane to go anywhere and I'm not performing any major overhauls, just getting done some things around here that will ease the nagging in the back of my thoughts and will help me feel rejuvenated once the boy does come home.
Part of re-framing what I was upset would be another unraveled Thanksgiving is choosing to celebrate big, just a day early. And so, after some surprisingly cordial negotiations with the Almost Ex, LIl E will be with me on Wednesday and we will have our own Thanksgiving dinner then. He doesn't have school and I've taken the day off and we will spend the day fully immersed in pie baking and turkey cooking and hanging out with my parents. We will do it up before he heads out, just as much as we would have done if it was all happening Thursday.
Of course, I remember last year and many years before when the three of us were together. I remember years before that when the Almost Ex and I outlined our own choices for the holidays and chose carefully what we'd do and how we'd get through. Somehow, this year, in all of our changes and celebrations and even some crying, feels so much more peaceful. It feels like there's so much more to be grateful for, if that is even possible. This year, I'm not worried or trying too hard or feeling removed from the happiness I want to cling to like my child on my lap.
No, this year, we're at the center of the happiness. And we will be sitting at the table with the people who get it most and who we most want to toast for making it with us from last Thanksgiving to this one. It's more than OK and re-framed and worked out. It's really good. I don't know how it happened, but it did. That, thank God, is enough for now.