Thankful for a lot...
Thanksgiving weekend in Canada isn't anything like it is in the United States. There's a river that separates our lives, no more than three or four hundred yards wide, but the two countries are miles apart when it comes to the emphasis we place on the holiday. Here, it means mostly just connecting with family, munching the traditional turkey dinner, and with luck, some great Fall weather. It's never too much of a big deal, but it's just the right amount of distraction from the onslaught of days and weeks and months and years...it's the way holidays should be.
We've never been crazy about celebrations...not hard wired for the traditional, or wild-eyed for the same old...so holidays come and go, and although we enjoy them it's not exactly our style to decorate the yard or invite 57 of our closest relatives over. We soak it up, relax, and pray Tuesday doesn't arrive too fast. This year we got what we might call a near ideal holiday weekend. A relaxed and easy Friday night in the company of friends and family...a drive-by Thanksgiving dinner/family gathering on Saturday...and then an amazing whatever-we-want-to-do Sunday. The only bummer was that we really only took in one family function. My own family was scattered and taking relaxing through the weekend to new levels, with no dinner, no obligations, and no expectations...from anyone. So we slipped through a whole holiday weekend missing some of the most important people in our lives, but keeping in tune with the apparent theme of the weekend...we shrugged and didn't worry about it much. Sometimes it's nice not to burden everyone with each other. Sometimes it's nice to just breath deeply and worry little. That's what we did this weekend. We spent the bulk of it together as a small and still relatively new family and although we were thankful for everything that we've got, we were happy not to share it for a few days. Zoey doesn't mind being selfish with her time or parents, and so we don't worry about others much when we're wise enough to indulge her. She's a happy kid almost anywhere, but keep her straight in the field of vision of her loving parents and she's especially stoked.
We went to the zoo. We played on the beach. We soaked up Uncle Ian and Meredith. We sat around a campfire with waves lapping the beach behind us. We watched wide -eyed and giggling as Zoey enjoyed her first fire, hot dogs on coat hangers included. We drank coffee and cold beers, listened to music and ate outside. It was a pretty phenomenal weekend, save that one little detail of not seeing everyone we would have liked, although, I suppose that would have stolen some of the rest of that stuff away. We don't ask for too much so when we get it exactly as we ordered it's hard to keep a smile from our faces.
We wonder if we're too selfish on occasion, and then it strikes us that perhaps we haven't been selfish enough at times. We enjoy the things that we enjoy, and we like doing things the way that we like to do things, and of course, we're not twenty-something anymore. We've been reminding ourselves of that lately and trying to steer wide of regret and obligation while still including the people that we love. Taking care of ourselves, and nurturing the growth and development of our own little team is something that we only paid token attention to before, but it's important that we start doing more of that illusive thing. We've never woken up on Christmas morning to just ourselves. We've never nurtured our own holiday traditions, whether they be at Thanksgiving, or Christmas or the Fourth of friggin' July (sorry, that just sounded good..alliteration and all that...I meant Canada Day), and now we're feeling the overwhelming desire to start. It likely won't sit pretty with a lot of the people who are used to that typical something else, but it's us versus the great big, bad universe now and it's about time we had our own traditions. Going to the zoo, or playing on the beach might not be other people's idea of how to spend their holiday, but it's ours.
We want to watch It's a Wonderful Life, on Christmas Eve, and fly away somewhere hazy with sunshine and laughter on Boxing Day. We want to go the the zoo, any zoo, each and every Thanksgiving from now on, and why not celebrate Canada Day AND the Fourth of July? Why not celebrate the American Thanksgiving, there's just half a mile of river that tells us that we shouldn't. We want to Trick or Treat in our neighborhood, and start our own New Years tradition. We want Zoey to grow up with uniquely us vacations and celebrations...and so she will. It feels funny just to type that...funny just to say something so obvious but it's been something that we've managed to deny ourselves for a decade. We love everyone around us so much, and yet we feel as though it's time to get better at being us. That's what I tell the kids I work with every day, and it's an awkward pill to swallow when you realize that you don't even live by your own advice.
So as we draw nearer and nearer to school photos and stories of past Christmas' that make us laugh year after year, we feel especially thankful for everyone who loves us and everyone whom we love right back, and we feel something akin to indebtedness for the freedoms that we have. Right now that little girl, Zoey, is sleeping off a two day visit from her Uncle Ian, and although she would have liked to have run through wooshing waves with her Aunt Netta, and maybe built sand castles with her cousins Reece and Avery, and perhaps even soaked up the affections of her Grandad and Baachan a little more, she's had a big weekend. Maybe she would have rather played with her Grandmas seashell necklace as they giggled into one another's squinting eyes instead of laughing at silly penguins, or catch Pops' eye from across the room while Uncle B and Aunt Header elbowed each other for her attention, but she giggled herself to sleep today nonetheless and our stomachs flip with the love that we feel we harvested this Thanksgiving. There's a lot to be thankful for, and we've thought about each and every bit of it this weekend.
It's been a definitively happy Thanksgiving, and you can hear it in the muted snore's and sigh's of a tired little girl napping her afternoon away in search of a second gear.
Mucho, mucho love and affection to all of you. Thanks for helping us find happiness without hardly looking.