For those of you who know us, and that would be just about everyone reading this post, Sandy and I have six children and six grandchildren. I am the oldest of six in my family and Sandy is one of seven in her family. So, family holidays are a very big deal. There is nothing more important than family. To top it off, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Thanksgiving is a time for kick-back relaxation, turkey dinners (at least two per day) and lots of pie….all kinds–pumpkin, apple, cherry, custard, lemon marangue….yea, those are the ones that I ate yesterday.
With all of our six children and six grandchildren living out-of-town, this Thanksgiving will be a very special family occasion with new family traditions and new family memories. Some of the kids will come to visit us in St. Louis. This year Kelly arrives with her daughter, Rumi Kai, on the Thursday before Thanksgiving. They will stay for eight days. Her husband, Mark, is headed to Florida to be with his family. Kelly and Mark live on Guemes Island, Washington, so we see them usually only once or twice per year.
Our son, Todd, and his wife, Jessica, just moved to San Diego. Todd came to Saint Louis for business reasons the week before Thanksgiving. He arrived Thursday night the same day that Kelly arrived. On Friday, that same week, our grandkids from Springfield arrived. Their parents, Craig and Nicole, were in Florida. So we had Olivia, Evan, Ella, Todd, Kelly and Rumi spending the weekend with us. Then, to add to the fun, Saturday night, Kerry, Kristin and Sienna arrived direct from Seattle (they live in Mount Vernon, WA). If you are still with me, I believe that makes six adults and five little people spending the night Saturday night. Four double beds and two air mattresses were filled. This is what we call family fun, right?
My recall of that weekend (just five days ago) is kind of foggy. Kerry, who is pregnant (forgot to mention that), spent the first night, and most of the weekend, throwing-up. Saturday night, she crawled into bed with us so she could stay close to the toilet. Now, I don’t mind if my little girl comes into our bedroom. Privacy is something that big families are not accustomed to anyway. But she’s twenty-seven years old and about to have her second child. Somehow it seemed a little weird having her in our bed. She was pretty sick so Sandy decided we should give up our bedroom for the rest of the week so Kerry could be more comfortable. We would spend the rest of the week sleeping on a futon located on the third floor, and, of course, there are no bathrooms on the third floor. Not that people my age need bathrooms in the middle of the night, mind you. The third floor? Sure, I was in total agreement.
Saturday morning our grandson, Evan, woke us up at 6:00 am because he wasn’t sleepy any more. Since he doesn’t get to see his out-of-town cousins very often he thought it would be a good idea if they all woke before their parents. Because he and Rumi and Sienna were awake he figured he may as well wake up those two sisters of his. They may have slept a few more hours but, hey, if Evan is up, why not everybody else. Ella and Olivia didn’t seem too happy about the early wake-up call.
By 10:00am Kelly, Todd and I were headed to pick-up their grandpa. My dad is eight-six years old. The kids don’t get to see him often. Mom died last January, so this is the first Thanksgiving without Mom. My kids wanted to take grandpa to lunch. Sandy, the brave one, took four kids (Sienna didn’t arrive until 7:00pm) to the Zoo. By 1:30pm I connected with Sandy to transfer kids to my car. Olivia, Evan, Ella and I headed to the Magic House. Sandy, Kelly and Rumi headed home for a nap.
Fortunately, Todd met me at the Magic House to help me entertain the kids. It was huge fun. I lost my grandkids (or maybe they lost me) many times over the next three hours…fortunately they are old enough to manage the Magic House, it’s three floors and many activities with ease. Forty bucks lighter and three hours later it was time to head for home and then off to the airport to pick-up the arriving visitors from Washington.
Sunday, Craig and Nicole arrived to join us for dinner before they headed for home in Springfield Illinois. When I went to sleep Sunday night I could have slept in the middle of an airline runway. I was tired. Sandy was tired. I think Kerry, Kris and Kelly were tired. I’m not sure if Rumi and Sienna were tired. They were still going strong at 9:00 when I headed upstairs to my futon.
The rest of the week is a blur…I recall some of the highlights….lost socks, broken glasses, spilled milk, cold pizza, ice cream treats, lots of food crumbs all over every room, and, did I mention Kerry had to go to the hospital one day? She had a scare with false labor pains. It turns out she was dehydrated from so much vomiting. I don’t like to write about vomiting so I’ll just end that story here.
That brings me to Thanksgiving Day…..that wonderful holiday that I so look forward to…that day of kick-back relaxation. It all began with coffee in bed. A good start. Then, a nice shower. Then, I’m told, Rumi was running too fast being chased by Sienna when she crashes into a living room light and gashes her chin. Moments later Kelly and Rumi and I are headed to Cardinal Glennon emergency room for stitches. After a three-hour hospital visit with some very nice doctors and nurses at Cardinal Glennon, we headed to my sister’s house for Turkey dinner and lots of pies. Rumi has her chin repaired and one more story for our memory book.
Finally, it’s the day after Thanksgiving. I was up at 4:00am today for my first trip to the airport. Kerry, Kris and Sienna are off to San Diego to see Todd and Jessica as they continue their holiday. At 8:00am I’m on my way back to the airport with Kelly and Rumi. They are headed to Denver to spend a few days before they head home. Another of my sons, Brent, who recently moved to Denver, will pick them up at the airport. So, they are enjoying time together, as I write.
We miss all of the kids who are out-of-town. Brian, Jenn and Fisher are in Portland, Oregon. Brent is single and finding a new beginning in Colorado. Todd and Jessica are starting a new opportunity in California. Mark, Kelly and Rumi will settle back into their groove on Guemes Island. Kris, Kerry and Sienna return to their life in Mount Vernon, WA. And Craig, Nicole, Olivia, Evan and Ella are busy again with weekend soccer games in Springfield.
Sandy and I are home alone, in our quiet, clean and uncluttered house. And, of course, we are looking forward to next holiday weekend with the kids and grandkids. We are counting the days in anticipation. We can’t wait! No really, I’m serious. We are really look forward to it. Honest injun. We can’t wait. Well, maybe we can wait.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. We hope you enjoyed your holiday as much as we did.
“We sanctify all we are grateful for.”
– Anthony DeMello SJ