Thanksgiving was rather interesting this year.
Traditionally, my family spends Turkey Day at my aunt’s house in Massachusetts. In true Italian style, there are at least fourteen people at dinner, which usually starts with ravioli appetizers and, five courses later, ends with Sambuca and coffee beans.
We have a lot of laughs and tell a lot of stories and wave a lot of hands. We share who’s sick, who died and who was down at Oliva’s this morning. We kiss and hug and at the end we take forty-five minutes to “complete the circuit”, as my brother and I like to call it. In other words, say good-bye.
Leaving is a lot like going through the reception line at normal people’s weddings. Only it takes more time because people have to tell you how much you’ve grown, and like that. It’s all very overwhelming to those of the Anglo-Saxon persuasion. Just ask my husband.
But I digress. As usual.
Anyway, as much as I enjoy family holidays and our Thanksgiving traditions, I have to admit that I had been dreading this particular one for some time and for several reasons. Things are different now.
First, there have been five baby girls born into my family in the past nineteen months, which – coincidentally – is how long I’ve been married, as well as how long it feels like my husband has been away. (He’s really “only” been gone for thirteen months, but who’s counting? Oh wait, I am.)
Five. That’s a lot of babies. And there was every likelihood that four of them would be there on Thanksgiving. Now, I’m not a kid person to begin with, but when I haven’t seen my own husband in six months, the thought of having to smile and congratulate and smile some more, was very daunting. And downright depressing.
It’s not that I’m not happy for other people’s happiness. I just don’t want to be too close to it until I’ve got my wingman back at my side.
Second, I was dreading all the inevitable “T” questions and conversation.
Where is T?
Have you heard from T?
How is T?
When will T be home?
I do appreciate people’s interest and I know they mean well, but for some reason that I haven’t yet fathomed, these questions drive me batty. And none more so than this dreaded one that makes my stomach drop every time:
Will he have to go back?
<insert wild frenzied scream here>
I have just spent an entire calendar year without my husband. Worrying about his safety. Riding the rollercoaster of emotions. Sometimes I don’t want to face the next five minutes and you want me to think about another deployment? Can we get through this one first? Can I see my husband’s face so that I can remember what he looks like before you send him away again?
Thanks. ‘Preciate it.
For these reasons, I was dreading Thanksgiving this year. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. About that anyway.
On Tuesday evening, which happened to be my parents’ 42nd wedding anniversary, my father was admitted to the hospital for acute renal something-or-other. Basically, his kidneys had shut down. No one really knows why, but between that and his Parkinson’s Disease, he wasn’t in the best of shape.
My mom called me from the road to say that dad was “taking her out” for their anniversary. Romantic devil.
The good news is that he’s on the mend and his doctors seem to think his kidneys will return to normal, or near normal function. In the meantime, they are rehydrating him through and IV and monitoring him, so he’s been given an extended stay – probably through this weekend.
And that’s how our Thanksgiving ended up looking like this instead:
Was it my negative thinking that got us here? No, I won’t be so bold as to think I have that much influence on the universe. But for a few seconds I did have that old Catholic guilt about my pessimistic holiday thoughts.
But honestly, it wasn’t all that bad. My dad has a private room, so we were able to make ourselves at home. The hospital, as you can see, allows dogs, so Owen was able to join us. The cafeteria cooked a really delicious turkey dinner and for the first time in possibly my entire life, I got to wear sneakers on Thanksgiving.
It was very relaxing. We didn’t have to be anywhere, we didn’t have to cook anything and we didn’t have to impress anyone. We just hung out and enjoyed each other’s company.
This is my Daddy. Isn’t he cute? He’s such a good sport. Even after 35 years of Parkinson’s Disease, he always has a joke ready. He keeps the hospital staff laughing. I brought him my old Pooh Bear so that he wouldn’t be lonely at night.
This is my brother, J. He’s a good sport, too. Owen sometimes bothers his allergies, but he wore his glasses instead of his contacts yesterday so that his eyes wouldn’t itch as much. Owen was grateful that he didn’t have to be left at home. Thanks, Uncle J!
This is my Mommy. She may be the best sport of all. Life has handed her not one, but an entire truckload of lemons, yet she still manages to make lemonade. By the gallon. And usually for other people. She is a nurturer. Owen isn’t generally a beggar, but – as you can see – he knows an easy mark when he sees one. “Grammie” always saves a bit of turkey…or ham, or steak, or chicken…for her granddog. And he knows it.
Speaking of Owen, we also celebrated his “birthday” yesterday. As of Tuesday, Owen has been with us for one year. Grammie and Grampie brought him a present.
He waited so patiently while I opened it for him. Milkbones! Yum.
I just love him.
Owen was a hit at the hospital. He’s such a gentle dog that most people love him on sight anyway.
But the turkey costume helped.
We threw it together in the morning. His raincoat, a little cardstock and some packing tape and viola! Instant turkey.
He was a celebrity. We took a few walks to cheer people up and they loved him. They started calling him “the turkey dog”. Nurses came out in gaggles to coo over him. People stood with him to get their picture taken. And Owen stood there wagging his tail, happily absorbing all the attention.
He’s a good sport, too. Poor puppy. He lets me get away with so much. But I think we put smiles on a few faces, so it was for a good cause.
All in all, not a bad day. I think sometimes it can be good to break tradition (not that we did it on purpose). It can be a learning experience.
All the same, I hope no one goes into cardiac arrest over Christmas.