The night before Thanksgiving, my son wanted to come stay with me (SQUEEEE!). The excitement of the day ahead left him chatting incessantly about things I can’t even recall. I’ve gone from hanging on every word my precious little cherubs utter to being super great at tuning out the running commentary. Since his sister was at her Dad’s, and Max was too afraid to sleep upstairs alone, I caved (as I always do) and let him sleep in my bed. Can any parents out there tell me what this means? BINGO! I got ZERO sleep. He’s sideways, he’s upside down, his feet are pushing on my chin, his toes are in my mouth, he’s throwing himself across my abdomen rendering me breathless, and of course, he’s talking in his sleep. Do I move him? No. Do I go sleep on the couch? No. At this point, it’s a battle of tenacity.
At 5am on Thanksgiving Day, just as I’m falling asleep, Max is wide awake. “Mom! Mom! You’ve gotta get up! We’ve gotta see if the elves (those creepy ass little Elf on a Shelf creations, of which we had to have TWO) came out! They ALWAYS come out on Thanksgiving! C’mooooooon!” Luckily, after an uppercut to the nose in the night, I had sprung up in a panic realizing the elves had NOT made their appearance. I fumbled out of bed, stubbing my toe, cracking my knee, swearing…and made sure “Sheldon” and “Penny” would not disappoint. Yes, my kids watch “The Big Bang Theory”, don’t judge me.
“Max…please. I’m exhausted. YOU go look for them and let me know if you find them,” I plead through my drool.
“No, Mom, noooo! You’ve gotta come, too!” Because in all actuality, he’s afraid of them. With good reason. I’m a little afraid of them myself.
“Max. You don’t need me to go with you. Go look for them and let me know if you find them.”
“MOOOOOOOOM! I found them! I found them! You’re not gonna believe it! They’re sitting in the wreath! (I’m shocked) COME SEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”
Mother of the Year Moment: “Max…take my phone and take a picture and bring it back so I can see where they are.”
This satisfies him. I doze off for a minute, only to be shaken awake to view all 85 EXACT SAME POSES of the elves sitting creepily in the wreath. I’m up, I’m up!
Being the product of divorce means I have two families to visit every holiday. Although my Dad lives away, I’ve always made it a priority to visit my Grandparents often, and especially on holidays. Then, of course, I visit my Mom’s or my sister’s house – wherever the festivities are being held. My poor children, now ALSO being the products of divorce, have even MORE places to visit. I tell them it’s just more people who love them, and for now they’re buying it. In ten years when they have to bring a dish to every gathering and pack up their children and lug gifts, I think they’re going to call bullshit. However, on this day we head over to my Grandparents’ house early to visit with aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. before the big meal. We excuse ourselves early, after pigging out on pre-dinner snacks, crème de menthe brownies, and Grandma’s famous scotch-a-roos. Off to my sister’s house we go. My sister’s house is always welcoming, with a dinner AND dessert buffet that would make Martha Stewart envious. We fill our plates, fill our bellies, and retire to the warmth of the fireplace in the living room. So far, a smooth holiday, too smooth. Then it happens. My Mom – whose curiosity has obviously gotten the best of her – asks my (CANADIAN) boyfriend, “What is it, exactly, that French men see in American women?” Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mom. She continues, “I mean, seriously. French women are so sharp and so sexy.” I’m sitting RIGHT HERE! “They dress so sophisticatedly, smell amazing, and always have their hair, nails, and make-up done up to the nines…” Is she going to shut up any time soon? Suddenly I’m feeling frumpy, disheveled, out of style, plain, and stinky.
“AH,” retorts my clever boyfriend, “Well, those Canadian women are too busy spinning around poles, you see?”
“And how would you know this?” asks my Mom.
Thanksgiving ended early this year. My kids were off to see their Dad’s family, and I was back home…alone…by 7pm. I debated briefly whether to head down to the local American Legion and enjoy a cocktail with friends; but realized I was too exhausted from the previous night’s battle for bed space. Is it just me, or are the holidays morphing? More chaos and less relaxation. More obligation and pressure with less love and enjoyment. Is this what comes with age? Is it a product of the pressure I put on myself? As I drifted off to sleep, I heard the old saying run through my head: “Life isn’t passing me by, it’s running me over.”