Before this tumultuous year, Thanksgiving and the weeks leading up to Christmas were already emotionally-charged holidays for me and The Husband. A lifetime ago, we got engaged during Thanksgiving week. After years of infertility, our twins were born on Thanksgiving Day in a scenario straight out of a Hallmark movie: twins, Thanksgiving Day, the most incredible gift you could ever imagine.
And then, exactly one year ago today on Thanksgiving Day 2015, The Husband collapsed in the middle of dinner. We hadn’t even brought out the pie. I found him barely conscious in the bathroom and performed CPR right there on the floor. Dessert was replaced by a rush of paramedics, police, tears and two hospitals before 10 p.m.
Thankfully, he survived this unexpected (and somewhat still unexplained) event; it goes without saying that this year — not to mention the rest of our lives — would have been extremely different if he hadn’t. Grateful is an understatement. In the face of some significant losses and challenges, we still have each other. That counts for something (a lot, actually).
Nonetheless, there was a push-pull effect to this particular Thanksgiving. Stay home or spend the holiday with family in Philly? Part of me felt like sheltering in place after the past 17 days since the election. The appeal and comfort of home far outweighed the prospect of politically-charged dinnertime conversations awaiting us on the opposite side of the state.
At the same time, I didn’t want to be home with the ghosts of last Thanksgiving sitting at the table.
We decided to do a quick trip to Philly — less than 48 hours in duration, with 12 of those spent driving. Some close relatives have had medical scares in the past month, and this would be an opportunity to spend some time with them. As if we needed any reminding, life doesn’t come with guarantees. Take nothing and no one for granted.
At a rest stop in the middle of Tr*mpland, we instructed the children that there were only two acceptable topics of conversation for this visit (and probably every other visit thereafter): The Weather and How Is School Going?.
“What if [insert name of relative who likely voted differently than us] asks us about the election?” The Girl asked, a bit worriedly.
“You say, ‘on the advice of counsel, I decline to answer the question,'” The Husband replied, prompting a discussion of the Fifth Amendment, because that’s how we roll.
As it turned out, everyone behaved themselves as best as possible. No politics were discussed. Instead, we celebrated the kids’ birthdays (and a nephew’s) with both sets of grandparents. My sister-in-law made a delicious dinner. The cousins had a chance to hang out and laugh and reconnect with each other, reminiscent of the kind of holidays The Husband and I remember as children with our own cousins. It was the first Thanksgiving our extended family spent together in six years.
And best of all?
Everyone had more than enough pie.