It’s early Thanksgiving morning.
I can’t sleep. Not for any different reason than the usual. Thoughts running rampant in my head, a little excitement. Just how my brain operates.
I’m at my parents’ house, sleeping on a pull-out sofa in the den. My son is on the floor next to me, too old at 13 to even consider sleeping in the same bed with me even though I am wearing my most modest pajamas.
My daughter is in the room next door, lovingly called the nursery though there are no babies left in our family. She’s sleeping on the top bunk and her cousin is in the bunk below. On the floor, on a blow-up mattress is my nephew. He’s 12 years-old. My daughter is 11 and my niece is 10.
In the bedroom at the other side of the house are my parents. My mom and my stepfather. They’re probably spooning and dreaming of a quiet house. Not really. They both love this week of chaos and commotion. Though I’m sure they’ll be grinning ear to ear when we all leave on Sunday.
In the little one room cottage out back sleeps my brother and his wife, my really “is a sister not a sister-in-law”. They’re both wearing sleeping masks and ear plugs because, well, the blinds don’t completely block out the morning sun and they’re still a little bit on west coast time. Plus, the air conditioner is a little loud and sometimes, the parrots who escaped from the Parrot Jungle during Hurricane Andrew still fly around here. And they like to squawk.
On the floor back there in the cottage, on another blow-up mattress, sleeps the baby, my 5 year-old niece, the princess of the family who holds everyone’s attention with her very sage observations of life and her imitation of Louise, the one-eyed stray cat that comes around a few times a day.
Last night, my brother, sister-in-law and I, along with the 4 older kids, went out to a local Chinese restaurant to have dinner with our dad and his wife. We all sat around a big round table, ate chow fun, spicy shrimp and other specialties. My dad and I whacked back a few martinis and reminisced. The kids regaled their grandparents with stories of school, sports and special talents like turning cloth napkins in to “boobies”. Good times.
And now this morning, on Thanksgiving Day, my husband will drive the less than two hours down from our house with his 13 year-old daughter, my stepdaughter. Her mom dropped her off yesterday, on Wednesday, and my husband had to work because his restaurant, though closed on Thanksgiving, sells turkeys for the holiday cooked on the rotisserie. The turkeys are very popular so he’s been busy working 14 hour days.
But they’ll get here. After sleeping in for a change. Their car will be loaded up with 2 turkeys, homemade stuffing and gravy. And probably a bottle of scotch, a bottle of wine and who knows what else.
We’ll do some cooking this morning. Our from-childhood traditional corn pudding. Fresh cranberries and some broccoli dish my brother has decided to make that calls for 8 heads of organic broccoli. And probably just uses the florets.
By early afternoon the house will be full. Full of people, full of noise, full of love. My stepsister is coming by with her husband and their 3 kids. Just to say hi because they’re going to her husband’s sister’s house for their meal. My best friend from growing up will be here with her husband and their three kids. Her brother, his wife and their daughter too, in town from California. And of course, their parents, my aunt and uncle who aren’t really but really are.
This will probably be our last Thanksgiving like this. My brother and his family live in Northern California. Too far away to travel for just a few days and his kids are getting too old to miss school. We’ll have to do our celebrating over the winter break, which we do every other year anyway when my kids are with their dad and his family for Thanksgiving.
And that’s okay. Because we can be thankful for each other any day of the year. And any time that we’re lucky enough to all be together is cause for celebration.
But for this year, we’re all here. Here in South Florida, in my parents’ house.
I think that I couldn’t sleep because I’m excited about what the day will hold. About the laughs and the goofiness that will ensue. About listening to the buzz of 10 different conversations going on at one time. About feeling the whoosh of air behind my back caused by having 13 kids running in and out and around the house.
This is my Thanksgiving. My modern family Thanksgiving. And I can’t wait to enjoy every minute of it. I already am.
But first, I need my coffee.