Evolution of Thankful

As I sat at the Thanksgiving table last night with my kids, my mom and friends I realized while the meaning behind Thanksgiving doesn’t change, we can (and I’d argue should be) aware of the evolution of thankful wrapped in the day.

Without going through my entire history – Risa and I were married a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. After our honeymoon, we came home, ate turkey with our families and headed off for Dallas and what we expected to be the start of our lives together.

Before we got to celebrate a Thanksgiving in Dallas (or fly home for Thanksgiving), Risa was diagnosed with a brain tumor – and to the best of my recollection we were in our apartment with friends and co-workers that first year.  Risa had her first surgery shortly after that.  There was a lot we did not know about what was ahead of us – but in the evolution of thankful we were happy to be together and with people who cared.

By the time our second Thanksgiving in Dallas rolled around – Risa’s condition was mostly stabilized and we started a tradition I try to maintain today.  At the time I was still working in broadcast news and November is a tough month to get time off.  So we invited the migrant folks from the station for Thanksgiving.  These were the Dallas transplants who did not have family in Dallas.  Again, my hazy recollection is about 15 or 20 people in our relatively small apartment.  But we had a lot to be thankful for and the evolution of thankful had changed again.

Over time we moved back east, had kids, moved into a house.  All the while our Thanksgiving dinner has been a mix of small gatherings and larger “events” always open to pretty much anyone we come across.

Our second Thanksgiving in Boston was our first as parents, and the evolution of thankful had changed again as we had a healthy girl to share the day with.

By the time we added a second child we were back in metro New York and had a lot to be thankful for.  Our youngest was born about six weeks before Thanksgiving and despite the looming shadow of a brain tumor – to the outside world we were a young family and had a lot to be thankful for.

I can remember eight years ago, Risa’s last Thanksgiving in the house with us.  I can’t remember who else was here because I realized the evolution had occurred again, and while we were together as a family, I also realized that image would not last.  Although we had a lot to be thankful for I realized the next evolution would be bigger than a move halfway across the country.

So last night as I looked around the table – I saw the start of the next change.  For Thanksgiving 2018, I’ll have a college freshman coming home for a few days.  15.0 and I will have to figure out what our life at home will be like without her sister.  17.5 will have to figure out how to acclimate back in after her first four months away at school.  I’m sure we’ll be thankful – just another evolution of thankful to come.

I have a pretty good idea what I think the evolution will be after next year – but as I’ve learned you need to roll with the punches and be thankful for the evolution.

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The Devil In The Details

Devil in the DetailsIt’s three weeks until 12.5 turns 13 and has her Bat Mitzvah.  I know it’s a time for her to be excited, nervous and probably a little worried.  For me, it’s a time to be excited, nervous and a little worried.  I know she’ll do a great job and I know everyone will have a lot of fun at the party-but getting it planned is a huge task, and the devil is in the details.

We have the big stuff done.  Dresses are in.  Shoes are purchased.  Place picked out.  Speech (hers) done.  Invites out and responses back.  Now comes the nitty-gritty.

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We have to do the table seatings.  Come up with the center pieces. We need to get gifts for the tutor, rabbi and cantor.  A bunch of things like that just need to get done.

Oh yeah, I have girls.  We have hair and nails to worry about as well.

Not to mention working with the DJ on the flow of the event, the photographer on the pictures I want to make sure get captured, picking out the menu and the linens (somehow it matters what color the napkin is that is on a table-cloth that is also color coordinated).

The first step though is knowing the list.  Got that covered.  Next up-picking off the devilish details one at a time.

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Dinner At Home

In confluence of events-some real, some personal, some probably imagined by me I took today as a WFH (work from home for the uninitiated).  And overall, it was a pretty productive day work wise, and the extra hour or so I got to sleep really helped after a really long day yesterday.

Since I was home all day, I gave the sitter the day off, so it was just the girls and me all afternoon.  I handled the Hebrew carpool, a quick run to Staples to begin the science fair project and I made dinner.

I think it was the first time in months the girls and I had a nice quiet meal at home during the week-kind of like a traditional family where we were able to talk about school, the day and whatever else.

An interesting and random subject that came up started with 11.5 asking, “Do you like or hate birthdays?”  Now, I struggle with birthdays for well documented reasons, and I also have told the girls I will give them a straight up answer to a question-so for the birthday question, the hard truth is out.

One of the interesting dynamics about both girls is they tend to go to extremes.  Since I have issues with my birthday it must radiate to all birthdays-and it doesn’t.  There was also discussion about all adults and if they hated (or didn’t like their birthdays).

I actually miss being able to just sit around the dinner table and have a conversation with the girls.  There are a lot of tradeoffs to being a single parent, commuting 3.5 hours plus a day and trying to be present as much as possible.  One of those trade offs is being able to sit down to dinner-it’s a trade-off for the comfort of living where we do with the friends around us, and one I am willing to make.

But still it’s nice to every now and then to step back and just catch up.

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