Thanksgiving loomed large, emotions vacillating between joyous expectation and pure dread. I would be together with most of my nuclear family, one son coming to Texas from Michigan, though his wife needed to stay for school commitments, the other bringing his wife and my twin grandsons for their first visit in their five-month-old lives. Thus, of course, the joyous expectation. The dread resulted from my long-time-coming decision to leave my husband of thirty-seven years mid-summer. We would share the visit, and rules remained to be established about how the sharing fit. When Thanksgiving was readjusted on our calendar, moving it up a weekend to give the brothers more time together, I had less time to fret over it.
When Jeffrey first toyed with the idea of coming a week earlier, he asked if there would be a holiday meal, and I told him, “You come, I’ll cook!” His email announcing the decision said, “my turkey expectations are quite low and am happy to just show up.” His 20-plus hour drive had begun when I called to say I’d heard both messages and was going with the first, preparing a meal. I asked what constituted a holiday meal, and the impression I got was the dressing. I went to the store that night getting not only the ingredients, but the basics I’d never bought for my apartment like baking powder, flour, and some dishes.
Friday brought baking and sobs. Had the day not been moved up, I would not have prepared the meal – our custom for several years has been to go to a sister-in-law’s home, carrying a few dishes. Yet preparing the dishes as they’d been done by Mother, by Grandmother, by Grandmom (although I didn’t make all the sweets!) tied that apartment to life, to family, to reality, and I cried with nostalgia for times gone by and with relief for the new life evidenced in us all.
The weekend went well, filled with civility, with love, and with healing. It sets a strong and comfortable pattern for holidays to come. And the icing on the cake – not like Grandmom’s, which she always swore ran out the back door before she could get it spread – was an invitation to ride back to Michigan, celebrate the official holiday there, and fly home. Tradition, flavored with spontaneity – can there be any better mixture?
An author, editor, and publisher with Silver Boomer Books, “Barbara B. Rollins” appears on thirteen books. Her most recent, A Cloud of Witnesses – Two Big Books and Us, written with OAStepper, matches each verse in the book of Hebrews with a quotation from the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, and responds in poetry and prayer. It is the sequel to A Time for Verse – Poetic Ponderings on Ecclesiastes which lacks the Big Book quotes. The six Silver Boomer Books anthologies are edited in part by Barbara, and she has a forensic crime solvers series for children from Capstone Press and the young adult novel, Syncopated Summer. A retired judge, Barbara still sits occasionally but more often sits in her car, going or coming from wherever she chooses.