It almost seems too easy to have this column be about Thanksgiving. But it also seems so appropriate, being that it is only two days away. Since Thanksgiving is a time to take stock and be thankful for those around you, and since motherhood is a daily experience of stock-taking, I figured I had no choice but to get a little sappy, perhaps mushy, and to think about Thanksgiving and what I am giving thanks for this year.
And quite simply, I am giving thanks for my family and for their health.
This is a year where after losing a member of our family, I am extra thankful for everyone’s health.
And though my family is at the top of my list, from my husband and son to our parents and siblings to distant members I only keeps tabs on through Facebook, this year for Thanksgiving we are not going home to be with our family.
This is the first Thanksgiving since I met my husband in 2000 that we have not gone back to New York. This is a delicate situation in our household and with our family. For years I have been trying to convince Jay that we should stay in Los Angeles for the holiday. And for a series of reasons, this is the year I actually convinced him. And now I fear he is a little regretful and therefore I feel a little guilty. Perhaps I could have picked a better year to have started this new Schinderman tradition. This is our first holiday without my husband’s father and I know Jay will be aware of not being with his family, besides his wife and son (and a close cousin).
But it is done and we are having friends and family (the cousin) over and I know that we will have a lovely time. And I know that Jay will truly delight in cooking this meal. (He once so wanted to cook a turkey that one year we had all our friends over after we returned from New York and the following weekend we had a second Thanksgiving.)
I could say I didn’t want to head back East because of the cost and the effort of three people traveling (one of those people being a 3 year old) or that I feel pulled in so many directions when we are home because there are so many people I want to see. But the truth is, this is our and our son’s home now. And I kind of want to start creating memories, traditions, here. My husband and I still refer to New York as home, and while it will always be our home, we live here.
My reflections on Thanksgiving are about the streets of New York. My strongest Thanksgiving memory from childhood is each Wednesday the night before, my Uncle David would wake me up at 2 in the morning and drag me all groggy and sleepy to 77th and Columbus where they were preparing the balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This was our annual ritual. He managed in those wee hours to make me feel as if we were the only two people in all of New York City to have ever seen such a thing. The night, the holiday, Central Park, the Museum of Natural History, even the Big Bird balloon — it was all ours.
I guess I want my son to think back on his traditions and think of his home. This home. I don’t know what that looks like yet. But it looks sunny. And there’s a beach. And it should involve Santa Monica.
For I am thankful for Santa Monica.
I tried to explain the idea of being thankful to my son, Benjamin. I told him to be thankful was like being happy about something. I told him that I was thankful, happy, for him and his daddy. I then asked him what he was thankful for and with all the excitement and sincerity that he had in his little body he said very seriously, “trains!”
So this is the year that we will sit down with our friends and family in our own home. It feels pretty adult. Perhaps this will become our tradition. Or perhaps we will stumble into a new family tradition we haven’t even imagined yet. Perhaps it will be just an experiment and we will return to returning “home.”
Or maybe we will head down to Union Station on Thursday and take a little ride, our own little adventure, like my uncle and I had, to celebrate Ben’s thankfulness for trains. Or maybe we will all sit around my father-in-law’s dining room table, a new addition to our home, and raise our glass to him and enjoy each other’s company as Ben plays trains in his room with his friend Max, each too full of energy to sit through a whole Thanksgiving meal and we will give thanks for the fun they are having and the sounds of laughter coming from his room.
And I will be thankful, that you my readers, allow me, on occasion, to be sappy and mushy.
Rachel Zients Schinderman lives in Santa Monica with her family. She can be reached through her Web site www.mommiebrian.com.