It was, in some ways, my best Thanksgiving ever. In some ways, it was really the worst.
It started out well. Marc was working on the Wednesday before, so I took all three kids down to Pie Day II at my mother’s house. We had already observed Pie Day I on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The same people were all there, for the most part, with the added bonus of my cousin Becky, her mother Aimee, and her daughter Abby-with-a-bow. Pie Day was delightful. Jessie, in particular, really, really loves cooking and baking. So she was very into every little bit of it, designing pie crust decorations and whipping cream. The kids were crazy, which is exactly what they should be at a family holiday, tearing around the house, screaming wildly and playing games all over the place.
That night, Marc arrived after work. Everyone had gone home, so it was just my little family and my parents. We lit the menorah for the first time this year, and sang the blessings. I gave the kids each a gift (Sam and Jessie both got those loom things that they’ve been dying for, and Miss Jules got a tea set that she’s still playing with, more than four days later – major success). Our tradition has always been that I sleep over at my mother’s house the night before Thanksgiving and get up early with her to make the turkey and stuffing. Jessie has been staying with me since she was born, but Sam started going home with Marc when he was around four. He and Marc created their own tradition of going out for Chinese food, and then going home to fall asleep watching SpongeBob (strictly forbidden when Mama is at home) and then the Macy’s Parade the next morning, before coming down to meet us at my mother’s house.
This year, Sam wanted Julie to come with him. He likes her. Both my older two dote on her, but Jessie has a more maternal relationship with her. She’s her big sister, but also steps into the mother role (oftentimes, more than I want/need her to do so). Sam is much more her peer. They play together, and he was so cute, trying to talk her into staying with him and Daddy. And she wanted to go. Even though she’s only three, and still nurses to sleep every night. I didn’t want her to go – I admit it. Classic Mama didn’t want to let go, she was still so little, and overtired, and I knew she’d cry herself to sleep without me. But she wanted to go, and was able to actually express it (in toddler speak) that she wanted to go, but was struggling with it because I was making it hard for her. That awed me. At three years old, to be able to be as clear about what she was feeling: she was ready to do it, to take the risk of sleeping without me, but I was making her feel afraid and guilty about doing it – I was easily in my early thirties before I could articulate something like that.
So she went – and it was perfect. Marc had a great night with the two little ones, and I had a lovely time with some one-on-one Jessie time. The morning was busy and fun, we baked and got the turkey stuffed and in the oven. Made challah and peeled potatoes and even made latkes. Tables set, everything was clicking along and ten minutes before the turkey was to come out of the oven – we realized that it wasn’t actually on.
Marc had planned another Thanksgiving. On the same day. I have awesome friends, really. So it wasn’t that my friends were coming to the party – it was that it was another party. I’m enough of an introvert so that back to back to back parties is more party than this girl can happily handle. And I was exhausted. Because it had been a lot of work getting ready at my mother’s house, all day Wednesday and then all morning on Thursday. Even though Marc did all the work for the party at home (and I mean all the cooking work, he did every bit of it, except for the potato peeling – the man is utter crap at peeling), there was still extra clean up work to be done, making my house borderline presentable, and getting the furniture moved and table set and kids happy (did I mention that all of my kids are more introverted than I am?). Jessie was furious – she hadn’t wanted a second Thanksgiving in the first place, and the extra hour and a half that we lost waiting for the first turkey to get ready meant that her dinner, the one she had worked so hard to prepare, was rushed and not at all fun.
So she was miserable, and mad. And I was exhausted and stressed… it wasn’t fun. As much as I love my friends, and as much as I appreciate the hard work Marc did (he put the turkey in a brine – a la Alton Brown – and it was the best turkey I’ve ever had), it wasn’t fun. Up until about noontime on Thanksgiving, it was wonderful. Lots of mother daughter bonding, fun time cooking and talking and getting ready, and then it went rapidly downhill. There was a very unsuccessful call to the Butterball Hotline (still very bitter that there was no operator available to talk to me), a lot of alcohol consumed, and a lot of tears and frustration.
Things have been so hectic and busy, I’ve had this window open for the last three days, trying to finish this blog post. We’re on the seventh night of Hanukkah, and I’m so tired. It’s after eleven, and my baby girl is a complete wreck, in terms of sleep schedules. She napped for two hours, during Jessie’s open house earlier, and is still wide awake. On the upside, she was asleep in my arms, and thus, completely quiet and not at all a distraction. She was, however, achingly heavy and napping from 5:30-7:30 p.m. is not conducive to a normal bedtime. So we’re watching Peppa Pig. Again.