Before the sun rises, before the last snow will trickle into puddles of water and disappear, before the silence of the house gives way to us trying to prepare for the grandchildren, before any of this, I begin my morning with thoughts cascading through my mind.
Thoughts of hope, thoughts of love, thoughts of anticipation for what comes next. Afterall, even though I couldn’t sleep longer than 4:38 AM, I am grateful for being able to sneak out of bed. Grateful to be awake, to peer out into the backyard to see if any wildlife roamed through our yard during the night. Ever marveling at the tranquility of early snow and the advantage it allows us to see the traces and tracks left behind from our nightly visitors.
Up early, reflecting and remembering Novembers through the years. We will leave in a few short days to travel to my childhood home, so we can gather to celebrate American Thanksgiving with my side of the family. So much to do before we leave, so much to prepare as we leave Canada behind for a short visit to Pennsylvania. In the room we now call Finn’s room, because he sleeps in a crib in there, our clothes cover the bed waiting for their turn to be rolled and stuffed into our suitcases. It has to be done before those kiddies arrive or they might roll on top of them, throw them into the air and then hide underneath them. What else do you do at Nana and Pop-Pop’s except become silly, laugh and generally do things that Mom and Dad would disprove.
Soon they will make their own tracks throughout the house! Violet, 4 and Finn just barely 18 months, running about laughing, as Violet calls out, “Catch me Finn, catch me!” Finn taking the shortcut behind the sofa in the family room and popping out into the kitchen before Violet can make the longer run ahead of him. As Brad would say, “total mayhem, total mayhem.”
Pop-Pop Brad needs to inflate Frosty the Snowman and Snow the Squirrel before the grandkids arrive. They come to life on our back deck so the kiddies can watch them bop about as they eat in the kitchen. I always disliked those inflatable decorations until our grandkids helped me discover the delight they bring. Yes, we have already transformed our home into Christmastime complete with the Christmas tree sitting prominently in our family room. We have a stuffed moose standing below it waiting to be hidden as the prime target in an upcoming Hide the Moose hunt. For Canadian Thanksgiving in October, we played Hide the Turkey with the stuffed turkey my mother made so long ago.
It will be Christmas fun that we leave behind when we travel to celebrate Thanksgiving one more time. Here in Calgary as across Canada, Christmas activities filter in shortly after the Remembrance Day weekend, Veterans Day for all the American readers. All through our married lives, Brad and I made certain that we recognized both Canadian and American Thanksgiving. It didn’t matter where we lived, Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina, and now Calgary. We consistently made sure that we noted both holidays and incorporated all the traditions in October and November. Admittedly though, nothing compares to my hometown American Thanksgiving. In my small town, as in so many others across America, Thanksgiving summoned so many traditions, so much anticipation, and so much food!
But this morning, I begin in a muddle of thoughts. I have a gingerbread house ready to be decorated with Violet this afternoon. It’s going to be a create-with-Nana afternoon, while Finn naps. Pop-Pop and Donald will head to the Canadian Grey Cup football game here in Calgary, complete with Keith Urban headlining the half-time show! Kim leaves for a speech pathologist conference this morning, so with no Daddy, Mommy nor Pop-Pop around, Nana is on duty. They will also enjoy a sleepover and a full day tomorrow with us until their Daddy picks them up after his workday. That leaves a few tired hours to do last minute packing and preparing before we fly away to Pennsylvania very early Tuesday morning.
Given the logistics I should have stayed in bed. I should have tried to go back to sleep. However, I woke up and pictured our newest grandson, Fraser, only one month old. He will change considerably before we return from our USA Thanksgiving visit. My Nana heart wants to stay home and cuddle him in these early weeks. This trip came about unexpectantly as a reschedule from our planned May vacation plans. Just prior to packing our suitcases then, our precious little dog, Dusty, became very ill. He had battled a stomach cancer since January, but by April seemed to have a resurgence in energy, a sort of remission from pain and problems. With vet approval we planned our trip to Pennsylvania for May and booked Dusty for a “camp” stay at the local Springbank Pet Resort. We felt at ease with Dusty staying there since his vet worked right next store in the Springbank Veterinarian clinic. Unfortunately, Dusty had a downturn days before our time to leave. To salvage our flights, we rescheduled when we cancelled. Back then, it seemed reasonable to travel one month after Chris and Catherine’s baby was due. Now it causes heart pangs for Nana.
However, I am looking forward to spending time with my 89-year-old mother. We will be cooking and baking in her kitchen, visiting the extended family, talking, reminiscing, creating moments to treasure.
The day here begins with this pause. This quiet reflection. I picture the weeks ahead with mother, pulling up a kitchen stool as we enjoy morning coffee together, planning what we will cook that day. I recognize a similar scene in my own kitchen. As soon as I end this bit of writing I will pull out some butter to soften on my kitchen counter. I will peel and chop some apples for the cinnamon apple muffins I will bake as a treat for the grandkids. The house will fill with home cooking scents that will greet them when they arrive. A long time ago I learned to cook in the kitchen with my mother, and now I reinvent the scene in my own home.
As the circle of time spins forward, in a few short days I will cook again in the kitchen of my childhood. For that and for these times I am ever grateful.
Perhaps I will have a few sleepless early mornings there as well. I will awake, before the sun rises, and reflect on enjoying the Thanksgiving season. Because no matter when I celebrate gratitude, my heart rejoices.