....For us anyway. Small - intimate - trying to create an experience for my children and I when all of my loved ones are too far away.
I always used to say I belonged to a family that looked like the mid-Mia Farrow phase of Woody Allen's movies (Hannah and Her Sisters). I have two sisters, and within our extended family, we had large, rambling holidays. I loved it. There was always almost too much to do. Thanksgivings where tables groaned under the weight of what everyone had brought. One year we all watched the Philadelphia parade with babies bundled on our backs, only to return home to chaos as my mom tried to pull it all together (we pitched in and pulled it off). One year, we rented a huge beach house in Topsail and had what was the last family shindig we'd remember with everyone healthy. Last year, I drove the kids down to Durham and sat with my sister on the balcony of her little, too hot apartment, with 20 people inside - happy to be there.
We had Christmases where we were snowed in after reaching our destination and sat around a fireplace over steaming bowls of chili - followed by a big pajama party of sorts. Feast of the Seven Fishes at either my sister's hose or my best friend's family - I was a happily adopted child those years. Carols around the spinet (really!), long dining tables and laughter. Big open houses where friends and family would come by, the wine would flow and the glow of the holiday far outweighed the exhaustion of trying to put it all together.
This year....Mom won't be out on from the nursing home. My sister is working in Durham and can't come up - her partner's mother is fighting Alzheimer's and she cannot leave her alone, so for the two of them to come up, well, it just won't work. For the first time in my life, I will not see any of my family this Thanksgiving. The kids and I are going to have dinner together, and I'll bring up a platter to my mother later. R and I were talking about what to do as we shopped at Whole Paycheck last night to gather what we needed for Thursday. They're fine with it just being us - they've always found the holiday thing too overwhelming - while I'm spinning like a top, tears just behind my eyes. R made a suggestion - let's do something to create our own small tradition. Eating at our large dining room table, just the three of us, is a depressing thought. We're struggling with what to do to make this seem small, intimate and wonderful, not depressing. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.....