After Matt's death two weeks before Thanksgiving in 2008, I decided at the last minute that the kids and I would go to Arizona to spend Thanksgiving with his parents. Soon after that, I resolved we would spend every Thanksgiving with the Rows in Arizona, or wherever they congregated. We had done that a few times, but it hasn't always worked out that way since - either we were just getting settled after another move, or we just weren't up for travel for whatever reason. This year, I really just wasn't up to traveling - I need a nice, long hiatus from it, actually.
I guess I have this expectation that we should have some sort of regular tradition by now for all of our holidays - an established place for Christmas Eve, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, New Years, Fourth of July, etc. Most people I know have a regular pattern of tradition establish for all that stuff, but most people I know also have at least two local families that they split their time between (you know, like husband and wife kinda stuff)... I realize that this being our most recent move in not quite two years, I should have a realistic expectation that there will be more time needed to establish a regular pattern for traditions, but I just like knowing what to expect, and what I can tell my kids they can count on. I don't like things being up in the air. Consistency is stability for kids. I suppose it's also not such a bad thing that we're not so established with traditions in case it ever happens that we decide to share our lives with someone else, but that just seems so far off to even be a reality at this point, and I'm not holding my breath.
I kind of resent the fact that I've found myself waiting until the last minute before holidays for an invitation from family or friends... I'm a planner, and I think it's realistic to have a solid plan in place at least three weeks before a big holiday (is that realistic??), so I've decided that if we don't get an invitation around that timeframe, I'm just going ahead and making plans for us. I ended up planning a big party at my house for Halloween and about thirty adults and kids came! It helped a lot that Halloween fell on a weekend for sure.
If I could, I'd prefer to have my home filled with people we love - whether we're related to them or not - to celebrate a holiday. We are blessed to have so many people in our lives, and it just makes sense that we're not isolated on those days. I can't handle isolation at this point in my life, and I don't want my kids to ever feel that way, either. My brother and sister both live a distance away from us, and if it wasn't for that, I know we would be together all of the time. Although we have a million cousins and other distant relatives (most living locally), I feel like we may as well be living in another country. My mother is only a few miles away but her health is not good and her home is very small. My dad lives a few hours away and has issues of his own. For us, it's my friends I can usually count on, but that's not necessarily a guarantee, either, since they have traditions of their own.
I'd like to think I've been able to establish some consistency that my kids can count on during all of our flux the last several years, and that is that I try to make sure we're surrounded by loved ones somehow. Heck - I had a houseful of our new friends/neighbors four months after moving to California (only thirteen months after Matt's death) for Christmas Eve! All of our holidays have been so different every year, but I suppose change is inevitable, anyway. I still miss Christmas Eves and Thanksgivings at my Grandma's from when I was a kid.
It means a lot to me to have our house filled on the holidays like my grandmother did when I was growing up, and that's what we were able to have yesterday... I hosted one of my best friends (Karin) and her family, parents, grandmother, as well as my mother at my home.
The turkey actually turned out delicious! I prepared a brine the day before and had it marinating in it until it went in the oven. Only thing is, I left the bag of giblets in there by accident... When I cleaned the turkey before putting it in the brine, the only thing I could find to pull out of it was the neck and I thought it was odd I didn't find anything else! I must have been looking in the wrong place (how many orifices does a turkey have, anyway??)! It was only my second turkey ever, so I guess that wasn't too bad.
I guess it's ok to not have the same place to go to, as long as my kids are with me and we're around people we love. We're fortunate to have that anywhere we go, and somehow we've been able to pull together something fun on important days.
The moral of the story? We love where we live (even despite the weather), and have a whole lot to be thankful for.