It’s the beginning of the holiday season. I’m separated this year. The lines were drawn down the center of the family tree. My adult kids have been providing caring support for my ex since the separation. They were the acorns that fell on the wrong side of the tree. I talked with each of them before I separated and they were all supportive of me. But once I made my decision it tainted the Norman Rockwell picture they had become accustomed to on the holidays. Because they were all adults and living on their own, they didn’t see the withering of a marriage. They didn’t want to lose my ex, their step dad, from their lives. My head understood, but my heart didn’t.
I’m glad that they all have a good relationship with him and that it continues to this day, however… I wanted and needed them in my life too. So I conceded when they wanted my ex to share our Thanksgiving dinner. Even though none of them had been invited to his family celebrations. The idea of getting divorced, was so you don’t have to be together. So here I am, facing my first holiday separated but with my ex for dinner. (sigh)
Goose spent the morning with me on the phone. He was making the turkey and stuffing for dinner with his kids and grandkids. He wasn’t sure about the stuffing, but he bought two bags of croutons.. then he got one more. He didn’t want to run short. One bag alone would have fed his entire family. So I talked him through my stuffing recipe over the phone. It was a hilarious conversation.. I wish I could have tasted that stuffing.
Nothing about my Thanksgiving was ‘normal’, or as it had been for the past 20+ years. My daughter hosted the gathering in her home. She did the bulk of the cooking. She was quite proud, and so was I of her. Her first Thanksgiving Dinner. I felt like I should add a picture to her baby book. None of the dishes were the same, not the dinnerware or the serving dishes that I’d always used for the holidays. But we were together and that was what mattered most. I was Thankful.
I was barely out the door though with my 9-year-old, when I got a text from Goose asking how dinner went. He knew my ex was going to be there. He kept wondering out loud if we’d get back together. I assured him many times that we would not. He asked what I’d be doing the rest of the day. Since I had my son for the weekend, I told him we’d be heading back to my place and playing one of his favorite card games and then going to a movie. Goose was headed to his single uncle’s for a visit.
After the card games were won and the movie played and the popcorn eaten, I got a call from Goose. He drove to a casino near where I live. He wondered since my son was in bed, if he could stop by. He wanted to talk with me. It sounded a little urgent so I agreed.
I tidied up a bit. Picking up a variety of cars, remote control things and then checked the mirror. Hmm, I look a little tired, I’ll keep the lights low.. it’ll do. Goose arrived. He was very intense and a bit nervous. I asked if everything was alright. “You’re a counselor right?” That question should have been a clue that this was something big. I should have pulled out a leather couch and a notepad. I was gonna need it.
Instead I lead him into the kitchen. I was at home now, not at work. My kids always talked to me best while I was cooking dinner. They’d sit on the stool next to the stove. They’d talk as I moved around the kitchen. It must have been the warmth of the stove and the aroma of good things cooking. They always walked away feeling just a little bit lighter. Often times, just like tonight, after the talking was finished, I was then the one who was worried. I’ll be sitting on that stool for a long time after Goose leaves tonight.