My Thanksgiving

When I first got the text from my ex-wife that she wanted to host Thanksgiving at her new apartment I had mixed feelings. I was glad that I would have the opportunity to have all of the kids in one room for a change and was glad that my ex and I get along well enough for such a get-together to be palatable. What troubled me was her history of freaking out on Holidays.

From the beginning of our relationship holidays were a problem for her. I could never put my finger on why they were so difficult. For the first years of our marriage we almost exclusively went to our families houses. Our only stress factors were travel, getting the kids ready and dealing with her mother. Admittedly, that was a big one. Her relationship with her mother was contentious for as long as I had known her. Her mother was always jabbing at her, it sometimes seemed that she was sitting at the table with a voodoo doll, sticking pin after pin and laughing as her daughter imploded. But even when the mother wasn’t there, my wife was still highly stressed and visibly agitated.

Once we owned our first house we took on the task of hosting the holidays. Given the age of our children and the logistics (naps, feedings, etc.,) of taking them out, and the size of our house it made sense to have people come over. Knowing that she would be stressed I took upon myself as much of the work as I could. I did all of the cooking, as much cleaning as possible and tried to control as many of her stressors as I could. I was naïve to think that I could control that which I did not understand. Her stressors were a bigger enigma than I could ever imagine. This would become evident when my mother dropped a tray of cupcakes in the driveway one Christmas morning. My wife freaked on her, yelling that we would now be overrun by ants. When I told her that we don’t get ants in December, she turned her wrath on me for questioning her. The day was ruined before it started.

It never got better. Every Holiday was stressful for all of us. The stress of walking on eggshells was too much for everyone. I just learned to deal with it.

So you can see why the prospect of her hosting gave me pause.

I offered to bring some of the meal. She asked me to make the Turkey. I gladly agreed. She was confident that she could handle the rest of the feast.

Thanksgiving morning I awoke at 5 AM. I crammed the birds ass with stuffing and put it in the oven with a schedule of leaving the house by 10:30 AM. I pulled it off and pulled into her development at 12:30. The turkey was still hot. I went in.

Despite her request that we all be there by 12:30 I was the only one on time. I offered to help her in the kitchen but she insisted that she had it under control. Her goal was to serve the appetizers at 1 and the meal at 1:30. It would not work that way, everyone was late. Amazingly, she held it together. Once my oldest daughter and her boyfriend, my oldest son and her mother (yes, her mother was invited as well) arrived, the meal was ready, getting cold on the table while we had the appetizers but she kept her cool, only to a lesser degree. To lessen her anxiety, I snuck into the kitchen and began putting items in the oven to keep them warm. She protested but I insisted that it was my way of helping. She reluctantly acquiesced. 

The meal went off without a hitch. My bird was a big hit, her culinary creations (she has never claimed to be a cook) were delicious and the chemistry at the table was magical. I was in heaven having my amazing family together. There is nothing in this world that I miss more than seeing my kids every day. I savored every moment of it. We did our family tradition of going around the table and saying what we are thankful for and I was happy to watch my children do theirs. They never liked it when they were younger, they thought it was silly. But now, they get it. They had some great offerings as to what they were thankful for. When it came my turn I simply stated that I was grateful to be there, on the right side of the dirt, surrounded by everything that matters to me in life. Normally loquacious, resulting in groans and eye rolls, mine was short and sweet.

The cleanup went well. We took a bunch of pictures. We drank coffee and ate dessert. We watched football. We played with the dogs. The conversation flowed. It really was a magical day. When it was time to leave, I couldn’t give everyone a big enough hug. I even hugged my ex-wife. I was proud of her. It may sound silly, but after all of the nightmare stories from holidays of the past it was exciting to have a day without incident.

It was bittersweet in a way. My ex looks great, she seems to be making a real effort to get better emotionally and seems almost happy. Part of me wonders why she couldn’t do those things while we were together. I will always wonder if she is better off without me. But at the end of the day I want what I have always wanted, I just want her to be happy.

Happy Bird-Day

My family always had a bit of fun with me at the Thanksgiving table when it came my turn to say what I was thankful for. Maybe I waxed a bit too poetic about deployed soldiers, the homeless and the lonely. I just felt it needed to be said. Eye rolls and sarcastic cracks aside, I still do.
Recent events in my life, while debilitating in some aspects, have had a profound impact on my ability to be grateful. It is almost a superpower. I have so much for a guy with so little. The best part is that it lasts all year, not just the holiday season.
If you live with the knowledge that no matter your situation, someone always has it worse you will achieve a generous spirit that will survive more than one Thursday a year.
This time of year there is an abundance of people who show up at pantries and shelters to volunteer. Sometimes people are even turned away because too many show up. But in August they are begging for volunteers. The need doesn’t go away when the trees are taken down, neither should the spirit. Giving doesn’t have to be a grandiose gesture. A simple smile and a good word may be all someone needs to have their faith in humanity restored or energized.
No-one can do everything, but everyone can do something.
I am grateful for my family and my friends. I am thankful for all kindness and generosity, regardless of the scale. My goal is to spread that mentality like a bee spreads pollen.
Happy Thanksgiving to all. If you have a little extra spirit, I’m sure someone would love a slice.
Every day can be Thanksgiving with the right outlook.

Liebster Award

I was nominated for the Liebster Award by Laketra BFF and I’m pretty psyched. This whole “award” thing is pretty new to me but it’s nice to be noticed and I will participate if for no other reason than to thank Laketra for the nod. She’s a Social Worker with a beautiful soul and she writes about everything. I recommend you check her out. Thank you so much for thinking of me!

For those of you that don’t know, the Liebster Award seeks to highlight new/newer/newish bloggers. When you are nominated, you are summoned to:

1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you and display the award logo.

2. Answer 11 questions that the blogger gives you.

3. Nominate 5-11 blogs that you think are deserving of the award.

4. Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.

5. Let the bloggers know of their nomination!

Here are Laketra’s questions for me:

 

1.) Why did you start blogging?
I was going through a very challenging part of my life and I thought it would be therapeutic to put my thoughts out there. Once it’s out you have to feel better. In addition, I was curious if anyone would relate to my story or tell me I’m nuts.

2.) If you could have 3 wishes, what would they be?
My father to be alive
A beautiful life for my children
The eradication of hatred…everywhere

3.) If you could have dinner with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be?
Again, my father

4.) Any advice for your 13 year old self?
Be yourself. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Lighten up.

5.) If you had to change your name, what would it be?
I wouldn’t change my name, I’m a Junior, named after my father.

6.) Favorite food?
Comfort food from my childhood. Mac and cheese, Hot Dogs and beans, Spaghetti and meatballs, a greasy Diner Burger.

7.) If you were a super hero, what superpowers would you want?
To live forever, to see the future, and to control Karma. Good people get theirs and bad people…well the Karma bus will back right over them and I’ll be the driver.

8.) What is your top strength?
People skills. I study them, I understand them, I can read them, I can handle the worst of them, and I’m nice to all of them.

9.) Read any good books lately?
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. Ripped my heart out.

10.) Dream job?
Anything working with kids. Adults are formed, there’s so much to be done with kids to help give them a better future. So much more than money. Since my disability I have been volunteering a lot. This summer I will volunteer at a retreat for the entire families of terminally ill children. It’s not a paying job but I would do it the rest of my life.

11.) Favorite childhood memory?
Weekends at the lake surrounded by family, friends, sunshine and water without a worry in the world.

My nominees. Now, my understanding of the Liebster is that it is for new(ish) bloggers so I don’t want to exclude any of the amazing bloggers that I read daily but highlight just 6 that are really worth checking out. Blogs that are about a year old or less.

1)The Daily Tales of Gregg Savage https://dailytales.com.au/ 

Gregg has taken on the amazing task of producing one children’s story a day for a year. His stories are amazing and full of metaphors, some subtle some not so much, that we adults could learn from. He really speaks for the kids, check him out he’s great.

2) badparentingweb https://badparentingweb.wordpress.com/ 

Funny, real and fun to read, this blog walks you through the life of a young parent and teacher. He’s got a great eye for the world and a keen sense of humor.

3) Karyn’s Domain https://karynsdomain.wordpress.com/

Ever wanted to drop everything and just hike? To really experience nature? Karyn’s blog is a heartfelt, earnest exploration of new chapters and fond memories.

4) MSGraceful…NOT!  https://msgracefulnot.com/

Grace is a funny, witty, brutally honest blogger who writes often, but not exclusively, about life with MS. She is a powerful force in the chronic illness community and she is a hell of a storyteller. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

5)Bojana’s Coffee and Confessions to go https://bloggingwithbojana.com/

Bojana’s writing skill is only surpassed by thought-provoking subject matter. From motherhood to her childhood and everything in between, Bojana will leave you thinking, and possibly rethinking, for days and hours after.

6) Brandewijn Words https://brandewijnwords.com/

Brandewulf, or “the Wulf” is a guy that decided that by night he wanted to explore his poetic side. I’m glad he did, this guy is great. His poems can’t be described by a non-poet like myself in any other way than “wow“. The imagery and use of language is some of the best I’ve ever read. Plus he’s a storyteller as well.

Here are my 11 questions for my nominees, should you care to participate.

1) Why did you start blogging?

2) What do you like most about yourself?

3) What would you change about yourself?

4) If you could sit on a park bench and talk with anyone for an hour, living or dead, who would you pick?

5) Who would you pick to play you in your biopic?

6) What is your favorite childhood memory?

7) What one food would you pick if you were stuck on a desert island?

8) If you could, would you ask for a do-over for any period of your life?

9) What smell reminds you of your childhood?

10) Who is your biggest influence?

11) Does your family know about your blog?

 

 

Alright, that’s it! This was fun! Thank you again to Laketra for the nomination!