Thanksgivings Before Alaska (part two)

So like I said, Howard’s family’s Thanksgivings are less stressful.

Mainly because there is less dysfunction. Not saying there isn’t any but there is a lot less.

We’ll usually arrive to find Howard’s mom zipping around the kitchen, denying our offers to help, then we’ll sit down on the couch and watch some television and chat with Howard’s brother Chris (yes he has a brother named Chris and I also have a stepbrother named Chris, family functions like holidays are hilarious) and his other brother Tim. Tim’s wife and I usually sit and catch up because she and I have always gotten along really well. (Thank GOD for such good inlaws) Then Howard’s mom will call him into the kitchen to carve the turkey. Because my husband can carve a mean damn turkey. Even arrange it all by cuts on the plate. Martha Stewart would be proud. Jean (Howard’s mom) always puts out the good china and good tablecloths and we all sit at the dining room table to eat, all proper and shit. Which I kind of like because it is sooooo unlike my family. We’ll eat and talk afterwards, while Jean clears the table. We also divebomb our drinks and keep them IN OUR HANDS AT ALL TIMES. Because Jean is a complete neat freak and if she sees a glass not claimed by anyone? It will be promptly snatched up and washed. Then she’ll feel bad afterwards when you tell her she took your iced tea. She WILL NOT allow us to help her wash dishes either. We all just know. When Jean’s in the kitchen, leave her the hell alone. It’s HER kitchen. She enjoys it too. She has a tendency to spoil all of us. Tim and Jennifer are usually the first to leave because the kids need to get to bed and then Chris, whoever he is dating at the time, Howard, myself and Jean usually pick a movie to watch. Then Howard and I head back to memaw’s. (where we always stay when we’re in town)

Howard’s family also has the huge, extended, family Thanksgiving on the following Saturday. Because Howard has a huge damn family. If you’ve watched “My Big Fat Greek Wedding?” That’s his family. Minus being Greek. Though the family probably has a greek or two somewhere down the line. Because this family? Is a rainbow of ethnicity. white, black, jews, hispanics. Holy shit, there I go with the tangients.

AAAAAANYWHO. This is always a loud, and fun affair. Everybody hugs everybody when they arrive. (Howard’s uncle Bob usually hosts the event) Jason and I usually find each other so we can begin our mischief and snark. Fun-loving snark because it’s family and all but it’s still snark. And before we eat, each member of the entire family (including any significant others, and friends you might bring) must say something they are thankful for. It sounds hokey but everyone loves it. Because if you EVER come to one of these events you’ll feel like you’ve been in the family forever. That’s just how awesome a family I married in to. Then we all dig in, eat, talk, usually drink some alcohol and Jason and I usually end up giving some sort of floor show, be it dancing to ABBA, belting out our favorite songs, or harassing everyone with a toy R2D2 doll until someone takes it and hides it from us because we are just big fucking kids! These events usually involve a lot of laughter. And it makes me thankful.

These days, in Alaska, I miss not being with both our families, even with as tense MY family can make me. I still miss them. I miss the arguing, the banter, the laughter.

But every Thanksgiving since then has been spent with new friends we made in whatever village we’re living in. And I have to put it into perspective. If we weren’t in Alaska, we wouldn’t be sitting here getting to know and making new, hopefully lifelong friends. The friendship and adventure is worth the sacrifice. And deep down our families feel the same.

Tomorrow, we’re hosting a dinner and five guests will be joining us, with a few others perhaps dropping by. I’ll get up tomorrow morning and start the turkey, and Howard will cook the side dishes, we’ll clean the house, and call our families to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving. Then we’ll greet the guests, open the really expensive wine we bought in Anchorage and tuck in. And give thanks for an amazing life.

I am so incredibly grateful for my wonderful (albeit dysfunctional) family, and for Howard’s wonderful family. I am beyond words grateful for all my friends, old and new. I am thankful for this crazy adventure and for the courage in my heart to not be afraid anymore to be the person I am. I am grateful for a husband I do not deserve. I am grateful for every blessing in my life.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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