Four is a Family

It’s about time I created a post that reflected the new URL for this blog.

I spent the first two Thanksgivings in the USA alone, in 1997 and 1998. Danielle and the girls were in England and, each time, other families invited me to join their celebration. The first year was in Washington D.C. while I was on business, the second year was back in Dallas where a Mormon family invited me to join them.

This year marked the 10th Thanksgiving since we moved here in 2001. This year the four of us (myself and the girls) made our own Thanksgiving meal. Some of the spread we made is here:

The Spread

It wasn’t until we sat down to eat that we realized some things were still in the kitchen..oops!

Fortunately, the recipes found and adapted by my runaway wife were not lost to the family because the three girls had helped in past years and, between them, could recreate almost everything we traditionally made. (My role was usually to work until Wednesday evening and then help out in minor ways, and cook and carve the turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Most other things were done in advance.)

I had a difficult time planning for Thanksgiving because my runaway wife kept putting off my requests for a discussion about custody arrangements. For most separated/divorced couples, there is some kind of trade-off or annual switch between the two biggest Holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas). In this case, I didn’t know if she wanted to have the girls this year or not.

When she finally contacted me, she asked if she could join us. This was a very big surprise and the last thing I expected. I talked it over with the girls and — bottom line — there was a veto. Not exactly surprising. When I communicated this to Danielle and asked if she wanted to see any or all of the girls over the long break, she simply responded with a comment that she’d make other plans. When I dropped some letters and magazines off to her a few days ago, she bypassed the question of seeing the girls again. There is clearly something amiss with her…

Settling in to our own routines, we started our new tradition with a very good sleep-in. Only one of us was up before 11am. Not a brilliant start, of course.

By the time we got organized, the sun was as high in the pale blue sky of late Fall as it ever gets. This was the organized view that presented itself after I got out of the shower:

Cooking

Wow!

Still, best efforts and all, the late start meant that we ate our Thanksgiving meal after 5pm…some hours later than we normally sit down for our Thanksgiving meal.

Although the four of us were a family on Thanksgiving Day 2011, I rather keenly felt the smaller family. The melancholy was unavoidable; this new tradition was sufficient, but not enough to fulfill me. I’m not sure if the girls felt it too. We were a little more subdued than usual, so they probably did. It’s to be expected of course, the year of first anniversaries continues. Next year, we will do Thanksgiving with gusto! We will invite another local family to join us and we will be a larger group. We will all feed off each other and chatter into the night. We will live the day as we have in the past. Our time for a quiet celebration has come and gone.

We will also get up a little earlier in the day … *sheepish grin*

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About Single Dad

I married young. Now, after more than 20 years of marriage, 3 wonderful daughters, and many ups and downs, my wife has decided the marriage is over. The "About Me" and "My Background" pages on my blog have more details.
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14 Responses to Four is a Family

  1. I think you and the girls did quite well, all things considered. 🙂 This will likely be a memorable Thanksgiving for them, but not in all bad ways. You showed them that life goes on, and you allowed them some ownership in how to spend their holiday, and you showed them that a family is what you decide it will be, not only what the Norman Rockwell paintings say it should be. I think the four of you have a lot to be proud of!

    • Thanks TPG! This year, I will happily settle for “quite well” as my runaway wife gave me little notice about how it would play out. I was very impressed that they were able to help so much. Without them, it would have been McDonalds!

  2. Caroline says:

    Well done all of you. You are a family and clearly one to be proud of your achievements. And anyway who needs to eat before 5.00pm!!!

    As for getting up earlier – Why? Great to have a lie in!

    • Hi Caroline,
      I’m with you … sometimes it’s OK to have a long lie in and a late start to the day. There’s enough rushing around in life that occasionally it’s nice to ignore the timetables and relax!

  3. Lost in France says:

    The shot in the kitchen says it all.
    You are truly a lucky man.

  4. Awe…what a great post!! It does get easier…the first year after my ex and I broke up, I spent my first Christmas in my whole life alone (hopefully the last as well) It was a sad day, but at the same time it really helped in my healing in some odd way, oh and three days before that, I had moved into my first self owned home. I realized that I was truly blessed in many ways even if they weren’t what I expected them to be.

    • Hi RNP,
      That Xmas must have been very hard. I’ve never had an Xmas without family. I imagine that there must be one in my future some day. Sooner or later, she will have the girls for an Xmas and I will have to find someone else to share the day with. Friends or fellow bloggers beware of a red-headed stranger arriving on Xmas morning!!

  5. Robin says:

    Lovely. My own family of origin is two generations worth of dysfunctional, so sometimes family members weren’t speaking or weren’t feeling social and didn’t show up for holidays. In addition, my dad was career Air Force, so holidays were catch as catch can – sometimes on the day and sometimes a week or two later, sometimes just family and sometimes random airmen who couldn’t make it home. Generally, we just celebrated with whoever was there without judging or worrying about the missing, just sending them love.

    In your case, you are showing your daughters that holidays, celebrations, traditions, and even happiness are flexible and made by each individual’s contribution, not dependent on another person or a rigid adherence to expectations or the past. I think that may be the most valuable lesson any of us can learn.

    • Hi Robin,
      It must have been quite odd to celebrate Xmas or T/Giving up to 2 weeks later!
      Growing up in Australia, with so few family members in the country, the Xmas holiday season (there’s no T/Giving, of course) was simpler because not talking meant being alone.. 🙂 So everyone got alone. Also, as it was the middle of summer, it was a nice time to be outside. We often had happy-go-lucky Xmas events back then. Maybe in the future, my smaller family can do that too.

  6. TikkTok says:

    I’d like this post, but alas, the option to do so it not available. 😉

    I think it was really smart to include the girls to have a say on whether runawaywife was going to join you or not. Obviously, there is some kind of something going on that she would not have already made plans, etc etc etc.

    New beginnings can be really good. In this case, I’d say a smaller celebration was a good thing. Some times, same ole’ same ole’ doesn’t necessarily = better or even good.

    We’ve survived. 🙂 Hope you have some great leftovers! For me, this is basically the first time I’ve crawled out of bed in two days and I need to get running.

    Happy new traditions to you!

    • My best guess is that my runaway wife is not seeing someone right now. Or, if she is, that person is back with his family and didn’t feel it right to include her. (I’ll take a moment to pretend to be disappointed about either of these scenarios.)

      Keep up the running — especially as it seems to be doing you lots of long-term good!

  7. backonmyown says:

    And now you and the girls are past one of the tough ones. Congratulations. It gets better now.

    • Thanks Pat! I think, as Lady E has mentioned, that once I have got through all of the anniversaries once, it will be simpler. Xmas is a big deal too, so that’s another tough one to try to survive. And it’s coming up faster than expected…eeek!

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