Last Thanksgiving, many members of my family gathered at my late grandmother’s apartment for a one of a kind feast. It was everything any of us could have hoped for, but for me, it wasn’t a party until my babies got there.
Sometime around 7 PM, the kids arrived. My Thanksgiving began the moment those little arms locked around me.
I led the kids into the building to the elevator. With each step we took, I stoked in their minds the flames of anticipation. On the elevator ride, they peppered me with questions about how many people were attending, what kind of food was there, what we would be doing, etc. I was gently evasive. I love to surprise them. Once I present to them the pot of gold I’ve hinted at, the wonder in their eyes is totally unaffected and reflective of a joy I have seldom known as an adult.
The din of our family celebration hit our ears like a sixteen ounce glove the second we stepped out of the elevator. The kids ran past me to the apartment door. I opened it to the sight of wall-to-wall family, the aroma of a home-cooked smorgasbord and a cacophony of conversation, unrestrained laughter and uptempo music.
The kids followed me single-file into the mix. I couldn’t calculate the number of eyes that widened or grins that spread at the sight of my babies. Within seconds, they fell in with their cousins of similar age and were lost to the night.
Yes, it was a night to remember held in my grandmother’s memory.
A year later, we no longer have access to that apartment. There will be no sequel to that blockbuster. My job is to create other blockbusters of different character but similar gravity. I can do that.
My mom and her close friend invited us to join his family at his daughter’s place. I happily accepted.
Holidays held little value for me before I became a father. Over the lifetimes of the children, this has steadily changed. This year, things that had never occurred to me became priority; things like knowing what time the kids and I were expected, a travel plan, renting DVDs for the kids to watch on the way, packing a travel bag with snacks, drinks and children’s ibuprofen and grabbing a few keepsakes to leave with our hosts.
The significance of this new kind of thinking only hit me after I saw how readily received each gesture was by not only the kids, but our hosts. For once in my holiday life, I got us every where on time, there were no last-second convenience store runs, no complications and I brought stuff to keep the kids occupied while I socialized with the adults. Wow.
I am too grateful that things turned out well to be cocky. Successfully managing a major holiday solo is on par with being named Super Bowl MVP.
Even better, the three of us managed to have an excellent time with several people we had only just met.
A very good Thanksgiving. Second year running. Different character. Measurable progress. These are leftovers I can gnosh on deep into the new year.