What I said in the newspaper last month:
Thank you to those who have inquired. Thanksgiving turned out to be very relaxing and enjoyable, and I am as astonished as those who know my holiday history.
Our troupe of five arrived at Camo Mom’s house bearing side dishes and hungry tummies. Once we got in the door I hugged a few family members, then looked out a small sea … maybe a pond … of new faces. Squaring my shoulders, I adopted my reporter persona and did a quick tour of the great room, shaking hands, smiling just so and moving on, trying to memorize names in order to later win points.
My teen daughters emerged from the Honda already — don’t judge — playing their electronic games. In the house, they seamlessly blended with other kids playing their electronic games. I know they all spoke, but mostly they imitated some of the adults who were strengthening their own relationships with their tablet or iPhones.
In other words, they all looked related. They acted as such within minutes.
My lady in-laws cooked and orchestrated the placement of food in the new kitchen, while I hovered around the edges, unsure of what to do once I had stuck serving spoons in my own offerings. My men-in-law did as predicted, sitting side by side on the comfy sectional and discussing manly things.
Camo Man was in his element. He had his sisters and their husbands, one son and his family, nieces and nephews and their assorted offspring, plus his mom and dad.
I watched him closely. As of now, I have no childhood pictures of my husband, so I can only try to imagine him as a boy. But seeing him fully relax into his family brought me closer to knowing. My husband laughed and joked and ate and talked to kids and ate some more. His face creased a hundred times with a smile or chuckle, not a worry on the menu for the day.
Camo Man, however, did not forget about me. He knows I can get overwhelmed around folks I don’t know well, that my confident facade easily crumbles. We had set up a signal system before arriving and he did the eye-to-eye checking in … can you see why I love him so?
But I was fine. Dandy. Lovely. Calm. I had delicious food on my plate and great company. I had no real responsibilities and my kids were not embarrassing me or their dad, so I was totally chill. I was even happy, which has never been the case at my own Thanksgivings — my obsessive-compulsive disorder kicks in so fiercely that I start lining up place settings with a ruler and wiping every dot of food off the counter the second it lands.
It’s hard to be around that much bizarre.
Fortunately, no one had to get a helping of that dish of crazy this time. To my new family I say, you’re welcome and thank you. You may not realize what a gift you gave me — aside from Camo Man, of course — but a delicious-in-every-sense Thanksgiving is huge.