Thanksgiving week was an interesting one for me. One full of reflection, thankfulness, relaxation and even some new frustrations. Driving south through Alabama, into the Florida panhandle was beautiful as always. It never disappoints. But arriving at my grandparents house felt like a long awaited trip home. Although I am able to go down there a few times a year, this time felt different. It felt like I was supposed to be back there.
Within minutes of walking in the door, both Haleigh and Faith had jumped right in and started cooking with Grandma. They had been talking about cooking the whole ride down, and how much they love to sit at her table with her, chatting, chopping, and tasting life. When I was their age, that was always my favorite part of the day with my mom. After school I got undivided attention for about an hour as I sat at the table doing my homework and she made dinner. Sometimes I helped, but those conversations were always the best. Watching my daughters eager to do it with their grandmother made me feel like with all the change and craziness in our lives right now, I am still doing something right with them. It was much needed reassurance, for me.
After an extremely long summer, I was surrounded by family that I love very much. This year though, I was very aware of the people who were not present. Things have changed drastically around the Thanksgiving dining room table. It’s weird for something that is so very much the same… to be so different. It’s also strange to feel so much missing, and yet feel so surrounded at the same time. Family is kind of great like that. We played/fought/argued through a couple of board games, watched football, ate entirely too much food, and enjoyed the day. But there’s kind of a new hole in me, where you belong. Knowing you were with family 700 miles away in Houston was comforting, but I became strangely aware of how much I love having you around. And how wonderful it feels when you’re with me, when I am with family. Because that’s what you’ve always been. I tried to shake that out of my head as much as possible, because there’s a future there full of great moments, and I needed to take the time to enjoy where I was at.
The weather was incredibly warm, bright and shiny 76 degrees outside. Acorns and leaves falling from the huge oak trees, the only hint at fall. It didn’t take us too long to decide that instead of going shopping Friday we were definitely going to head to the beach. If you’ve never had pumpkin pie and then jumped in the Gulf of Mexico… put it on your list of things to do, because it doesn’t get too much better than that.
It’s always hard to leave my Grandparent’s house. Hard to cross back into Alabama and keep the car pointed North. It has such a tendency to try to turn around. Until next time Florida. xxxooo