I don't have my kids on Thanksgiving. Ever. Because holidays dedicated 100% to gluttony are simply not my thing. Never will be. As much as I love to cook, I HATE the traditional meals. I don't like how they taste and I don't enjoy preparing them. I haven't cooked a turkey or a ham or a roast beef in four years and no part of me misses spending all day worrying about and hovering over a slab of dead animal that I don't even like eating.
So instead of the traditional turkey, I made a vegetarian Indian feast for 20 of my closest friends. Homemade cheese for Saag Paneer! Homemade Naan! Vegetable curry! Indian rice! Mango dahl! It was epic and THAT was a meal I enjoyed preparing (especially since Sam, Terry, Sophie and Ginger all got covered in flour helping me with the naan). It was a perfect Thanksgiving. (Even sans wine, thankyouverymuch.)
And holy sheeeeeeet, do I have a lot to be grateful for this year. So much. Such a sharp contrast from last year. Last winter was... hard. I will forever refer to it as The Winter of Ill Repute because that's exactly what it was. Joel and I got into an epic text message fight last Thanksgiving. Oddly enough, the fight was because he told me he wasn't coming for dinner, so I invited Daniel* to join us and then Joel decided to come at the last minute and that set off an unfortunate series of events that led to us getting back together only to break up again three days before Christmas. Then the day after we broke up, Joel lost his main source of work. So we stayed together just to make it through the holiday without anyone slitting their wrists. I couldn't afford to heat the house. I wasn't talking to my family. SamnTerry were in Washington DC for two weeks. Then, as if that wasn't bad enough, I had to return the only gift I'd gotten for my kids so my utilities wouldn't get shut off.
It was fucking AWFUL.
This year it's all come full circle. I have so much to look forward to! Patrick gets back on Tuesday. (TUESDAY!) (Only four days!) Then we'll have December together with the kids - brunches and parties and dinners, oh my. THEN! As if that isn't enough, I'm taking the kids home for Christmas for the first time in seven years. My mom sent us tickets and we're going on Christmas day at noon. Patrick was asleep in Vienna when she did all the booking, but when he woke up, he bought tickets too, so he'll get to meet my parents (and the ENTIRE extended family) on Christmas day. (We're surprising the kids, so don't say a word!)
Here I've been dreading December all year and just knowing I'll get to be with (most of) the people I love is enough to change my entire outlook on Christmas. (SamnTerry will be out of town. AGAIN.) I'll even get to hold my BFF Jill's newborn baby girl because SHE'LL be home for Christmas too. I can't wait. I'm actually excited instead of terrified. It's the strangest thing.
Less strange and far more sappy is how grateful I am for all the love in my life right now. There's my children, of course, and I love them in terrible, infuriating ways. There's Patrick, who loves me better even from another continent than any man has loved me yet. There's the budding romance with Lela, which is sweet and new and special to me. There's the extended group of friends who let me feed them and Cynthia and Gigi who put up with our crazy loud house every Sunday.
There's Daniel! Who came to Thanksgiving dinner for a do-over of last year's epic drama. He brought the bald and the homemade bread and the college stories (and the smooches for alllllll the ladies).
There's even Patrick's tribe of People, who I'm slowly but surely getting to know and love and who've included me even while he's been away. There's also the rekindling of the relationship with my parents, which is better than ever.
Most important, though, are My People. Terry had her own series of unfortunate events over last few weeks and having the privilege of being there with her through the shitstorm made me love her in deeper, more heart-twisty ways than I ever thought possible. (And Sam, too, for being such a damn fine husband to her.) There's something incredibly poignant about being let in to the lives of the people you most love and admire. It fills me up with the exact kind of gluttony that Thanksgiving is supposed to be about.
Thank you for that.