I have two families, one in southeast Missouri and one in northeast Connecticut. By the time Mrs. T entered my life at the end of 2005, my mother’s health was in decline, so we “decided” willy-nilly to spend our Christmases with her in Smalltown, U.S.A., and our Thanksgivings with Mrs. T’s family in Connecticut. This worked pretty well, but after my mother died, we opted to stick to the East Coast throughout the holiday season, thus making it possible for us to finally have our own Christmas tree.
A month and a half ago, Mrs. T suggested to me that I might want to consider spending Thanksgiving in Smalltown with David and Kathy, my brother and sister-in-law. It wasn’t a random notion on her part. Once Dave finished remodeling the house in which he and I grew up and into which he and Kathy have since moved, the two of them decided to invite Kathy’s entire family (which is both large and lively) over for Thanksgiving dinner. Hence it made good sense for me to fly out to Missouri, join in the general revelry, and spend a couple of days in the guest bedroom at 713 Hickory Drive while Mrs. T celebrated Thanksgiving with her own family in rural Connecticut.
Such well-made plans have a sneaky way of coming unglued at the last minute, and this one fell victim to the nasty winter weather that fouled up holiday travel on the East Coast last Wednesday. No sooner did I check the forecast on Tuesday morning than I figured out that if I took the train from Connecticut to New York that afternoon and attempted to fly from there to Missouri the next day, I stood a much-better-than-even chance of getting stranded at the airport. So I called up my always-sensible brother and talked the situation over with him at length, spent the next couple of hours silently rebelling against the inevitable, and decided in the end to stay put.
It took me most of the afternoon to come to terms with my reluctant decision. It’s been years since I last spent Thanksgiving in Smalltown, and I was looking forward to my visit more than I can possibly say. Sometimes—quite often, truth to tell—it’s no fun to be sensible. But when I finally turned the corner and committed myself to having a good time in Connecticut…well, I had one. A very good time, in fact, and not just because I was spending the holiday with my beloved Mrs. T. The members of her family long ago accepted me as one of their own, and as I sat down on Thursday to a table laden with enough piping-hot food to stuff a football team, I felt completely, blessedly at home.
And did I miss Dave, Kathy, my dear niece Lauren and all the other Teachouts and Merideths who were doing the same thing at the same time halfway across the country? You’d better believe it. I missed them fiercely, and still do. But to have two families, both of which love you, is the nicest of problems, one that needs no solution. All it calls for is gratitude, with which I was—and am, and ever will be—overflowing.