After 5 years of this, we've gotten pretty good at it. We have a system for covering unexpected snow days. We Skype birthdays. We have our own little traditions for most holidays.
Thanksgiving is still the toughest one to do away from family. Even Christmas isn't such a big deal, because Hubster and I focus on building memories for our children. But Thanksgiving is all about gathering and eating together and as much family as possible. That's how Thanksgiving always was for me growing up. So many people that there weren't always enough dishes or chairs, but always enough food, enough conversation, enough room for everyone.
Our Thanksgivings in Iowa have been a patchwork of experiences: a dinner at friends, a dinner done between call shifts with dessert at the hospital, a dinner done the day after bringing Duck home from the hospital, a dinner done with family in Utah. We haven't had the chance to settling into a rhythm, find traditions that work for spending this holiday with our small little nuclear family.
This year, we stuck to what we knew.
We cooked. We brined and roasted a turkey. We made all the traditional side dishes. We made way too many pies. I dragged my boys into the kitchen to help - making juice, peeling apples, mixing pudding.
We decorated. Bug helping me add some beautiful chalk art to our otherwise utilitarian blackboard menu. We made leaf garland and pumpkin candles.
We gathered. We all five sat around our little kitchen table that technically doesn't fit us any more. We gathered and we were thankful.
Even though it was hard, knowing that we have family across the country gathered in huge groups, with aunts and uncles and cousins and grandchildren and grandparents. Even though it turns our boys aren't huge eaters and don't really like most traditional Thanksgiving food (specifically cranberries, sweet potatoes, and almost every kind of pie). Even though our house which is normally loud and chaotic at baseline felt just a little empty with just us.
Even with all this, we were grateful. We were all home, we were all healthy, we were all full and happy.
I let the boys be a little extra rambunctious. I didn't harp on tidying up and getting the dishes done and staying off the arm of the sofa as much as I usually do. I just let us be together as much as possible.
And I may have also eaten the entire pumpkin pie by myself, because no one else wanted it.