Throwback Thursday: Thanksgiving Edition

Today is a special edition of Throwback Thursday. In celebration of Thanksgiving, I’m throwing it back to November 2007 and our blended family Thanksgiving.

In our blended family arrangement we often have to share holidays with the other parents. In 2007 Nico was going to spend the holiday out of town with his dad while the girls went with their mom. Before they left for the weekend I roasted a turkey breast and made some of our favorite thanksgiving sides. The other parents arrived and we invited them to stay for our impromptu feast. It was spontaneous and fun and we created a nice memory in the life of our family.

This year all our kids are home for the holiday. I’m looking forward to spending time with my family and creating more memories. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Celebrating Thanksgiving in a Blended Family

This was originally posted last year but I thought I’d share it again. This year I am again hosting Thanksgiving dinner, and this year Nico won’t be with us to celebrate. He will be joining his dad and his other family and Olivia and Erica will be with us. Somehow we’ve gotten off our schedule. I guess it’s one of the downsides of being in a blended family. I’ll be thinking of Nico as I give thanks for the many blessings in my life. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.

Over the river and through the woods,

To Grandmother’s, Mother’s, Father’s,  house we go….

I remember singing that song during a holiday recital when I was a young girl in elementary school. The words to the song were very personal to me because they reminded me of celebrating holidays with my own family. My grandmother, who died this past June, was the matriarch of our family, and during the holidays, my extended family of uncles, aunts and cousins, would gather at her house to celebrate. It did not matter that she had a small house, her kitchen lacked a dishwasher, and a reliable oven, her house became the meeting place for our family gatherings. It was only in the last several years, when she was well into her 90’s, that we stopped gathering at her house, and Juan and I took on the job of hosting Thanksgiving dinner for our large, extended families.

Even though hosting Juan’s family and my own extended family means a house full of people, and a sink full of dirty dishes, I really do enjoy having everyone gather at our house. I love creating and maintaining the family traditions that go along with hosting the traditional Thanksgiving meal. However, in our blended family, creating traditions can be a challenge, because, unlike the song I learned to sing as a child, we don’t always know who house our kids will be going to for the holidays.

In our house, like most blended family households with joint custody, our kids share the holidays between our house and their other parent’s house, alternating every year. So far, we have managed to keep the kids on the same schedule, so that when Nico is with his dad, the girls are are also with their mom. This means that we have to be resourceful and creative to keep the traditions throughout the years, even when we are not all together. I remember the first Christmas that Nico and I spent apart because he travelled out of state with his father. Nico was three years-old and excited to be going on a plane to see his grandparents. I was single, home with my parents and broke down in tears at the sound of his voice on the phone. I still cannot think back to that time without feeling sadness and loss. These days I still feel a loss when Nico is not with me on a holiday, or when we can’t be together as a family, but I know that the kids have to experience these holidays and celebrations with their other family as well, and their lives will be enriched by it. I try not to let my own sadness spill over into their own celebrations, and I try to carve out some time for us to celebrate as a family, even if that celebration may not happen on the actual holiday. For instance, in the past, I have made a mini-Thanksgiving dinner for just the 6 of us. We celebrated early because the kids were going away for Thanksgiving day. On another occasion, we celebrated an early Thanksgiving and during a spontaneous moment of good will we invited the other parents. It made for an impromptu blended family portrait and it captured a moment in our family history.

Our 2007 early Thanksgiving celebration with the kids and all their parents.

This Thanksgiving will be one of those times when we won’t be together on the actual holiday. It’s an exceptional year, because typically this would be a year that is “ours.” However, this year, the girls will be celebrating with their mother and her family. I am happy for them, since they have a lovely family on that side, and for this they have a lot to be thankful. But, they will be missed by our extended families, who are gathering at our house. Nico will be with us, and of course, Diego is all ours. This year when we gather to eat we will feel my grandmother’s absence, and the absence of Olivia and Erica, but our hearts will be filled with gratitude for all the blessings in our lives. Blessings of health, home and family–in whatever form that comes in.

 

Short and Sweet

Monday. The day after a great weekend that was way too short. The day that starts the week leading into the Thanksgiving holiday. I am going to have to step it up since in exactly three more days I will be hosting dinner for 25 people. I suddenly realized how much I still had to do, when I took the 22 pound bird out of the freezer to thaw this morning. After I finished working today, I went immediately to Costco to start my Thanksgiving shopping.  While I was in the checkout line I looked at my Thanksgiving To Do list and thought I could squeeze in one more errand before it got too late. Then, I remembered I still had a blog post to write. In that moment I almost gave up NaBloPoMo, but then I recalled something that happened last week that I meant to blog about, but didn’t get to. It’s short, and probably not as meaningful to you as it is to me, but, hey, it is my blog. Here it is:

I was feeling about as tired as I did today. We had just finished dinner and one of my kids, as usual, mistakenly thought I was a walking wallet. I responded that I was not a walking wallet and in fact, I had no money to give them. Diego pulled out his ziplock baggie of change and gave it to me. He said, “Here Mommy, it’s a present for you. Nico and I counted it, and there’s $8.43. Take it.” I asked him why he would give me his money and he told me, “Because you work hard, and you deserve it.” Of course, I told him that I couldn’t accept his money but he kept insisting. Diego then started pulling out all his treasures, telling me that they were presents for me.

Diego's presents to me: a bag of money, crystals, an arrowhead and a plaster paw print

Diego gave me his arrowhead he bought at the museum gift store. He gave me his crystals he was growing from his science class, and he gave me a plaster paw print he made from a zoo field trip.  I suddenly no longer felt depleted from my day. His kindness and generosity energized me. Then, Diego said I was beautiful. I asked him why he said I was beautiful and he looked at me plainly and said, “Because you actually are beautiful.” (Yes, he used the word, “actually.”

See, I thought I didn’t have a blog post today. I thought I didn’t even have the energy to write. But just thinking about that evening last week, energizes me. Just thinking about my little guy, inspires me. Now, back to my Thanksgiving preparations.

Doing the Laundry on a Sunday Evening

Most Sunday evenings I feel like it’s a race to the finish line, and before I can settle in for the evening I am usually faced with a mountain of laundry to summit. It seems like the laundry never ends around my house. This time of year the chores feel endless because in addition to my regular household tasks, the holidays add more to my “To Do” list.  The Thanksgiving holiday also reminds me  of the first poem I ever had to memorize, the classic “Stopping By Woods on A Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost. So, as I was doing yet another load of laundry on Sunday evening I was inspired to pen my own version of this classic.

Whose clothes these are I think I know,

They will not do their laundry though.

They let their clothes pile up so high,

I sort, pre-treat, wash, dry and fold.

*******

My family, they must think it’s great,

To have clean clothes without a wait.

Though lots of colors, darks, and whites,

Their laundry’s done and almost never late.

*******

They throw their dirties on the floor,

Not in the hamper or on a rack,

Soiled towels and clothes, hung on the door,

So many loads, one, or two, no less than four.

*******

The clothes are soiled and must be cleaned,

So I have work to do,

And piles of laundry before I sleep.

And piles of laundry before I sleep.