Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Favorite Time of the Year

Fall is my favorite time of the year. I can say that without hesitation as its always been my favorite time of the year. I love the cooler weather and the fresh feeling that's in the air, well at least until my allergies kick in. I love to see the leaves change and begin to fall. I love the holidays and the hustle and bustle that comes with them. And I love football season.

And maybe football season is the reason I've always loved fall. Because as a child the holidays were dreaded, we knew that Thanksgiving, Christmas and the days leading up to them would be full of conflict, it never failed. Sometimes I wonder if we'd changed the calendar, locked my parents away and they didn't know it was Thanksgiving or Christmas, would the drama bubble up to the surface anyway?

Now I'm an adult, not just an adult by a wife and mother. Wow, even when I write those words and see them in print its hard to grasp at times. Me, a mom?

But as an adult and a parent I still love fall. Unfortunately, living in Texas I miss out on the cooler air, sure 78 degrees is cooler for Texas, but I wouldn't say it qualifies as fall weather. Along with the cooler air I miss the beautiful, colorful leaves. And the mountains, I miss the view, the foliage, the creeks and the tradition. Every year, for as long as I can remember, we drove to Gatlingburg, TN in mid-October for a four day weekend.

It was a great trip! We'd get to enjoy the beauty of fall as we drove to the mountains, through the mountains and into the Blue Ridge Parkway. We always stayed at the same place and in the same condo. And as shocking as even I find it, these trips were 98% drama/conflict free. Typically, the biggest conflict we'd have is when to start a fire, who would hike outside to get the wood and what we'd eat for dinner.

My aunts and uncles from both FL and TN would always meet us and come out for a visit to our condo. And after we'd all visit for an hour and catch up, my mom and aunts would go to town and shop for the day, while my Uncles and I claimed our spaces on the couch and camped in front of the television to watch....that's right, college football. What else?

While the games were on I'd cook a large batch of chili, and in the evening when everyone was home we'd eat dinner in front of the fireplace. I loved this tradition. For me October was never about Halloween, we hardly ever celebrated Halloween. Nope, October was about cooler weather, our annual trip to the mountains,the state fair, football and the peak of the fall foliage.

And I guess its good that October was always a great month because then we had to face the holidays and the conflict. Now last year, it was the first year we had MC and so our first year as a family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And my single, most important goal had nothing to do with food, presentation or gifts. It was to celebrate with family and without drama, conflict, fighting, arguing etc.

My dad flew in to visit the week of Thanksgiving. I'd called him and explained the troubles I was having with post-partum anxiety and depression and begged him to come spend some time with me. What was I thinking? Well, to clarify this was roughly a month after I'd delivered our first child, a month after we lost my father-in-law and best friend, and I was in full blown PPD I wasn't thinking, not on any level.

The short story, is dad flew in on Tuesday and promised to stay through Sunday. This way he would be able to join us for Thanksgiving and his birthday. But by Wednesday morning he was already talking about going home early and by Thursday he was on a plane back home. So this put even more stress on my husband and me as we'd made plans around dad's visit and his early departure was not on the best of terms.

Now we moved on and put this behind us. My brother was planning on flying in and spending Christmas and a few days after visiting us. So of course when he called and asked, should we invite dad, because if we don't he'll be alone...I agreed we needed to include dad.

Again the short version, Dad threw a fit on Christmas afternoon on the drive over to my sister-in-laws house and demanded to be taken to the airport immediately. There was arguing, yelling, pleading etc. all happening in the vehicle where MC was riding. The drama only ended when we arrived at my sister-in-law's house and learned my husband's grandmother was very ill and probably needed to go to the emergency room. Yes, more drama, however this wasn't really any one's fault.

So another year and another holiday season with way too much family conflict. This year, its that time again. Its November and we're making plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My brother hopes to fly out to spend Christmas with us again this year. And he's already asked, should we include dad? And my response, without hesitation, was an emphatic NO! I know some people will find this cold and heartless, most people won't understand and can't relate because they've always had uneventful holidays. But my father and I haven't spoken since April. We had a falling out when we were in SC for a visit combined with vacation. I don't see this changing in the near future if ever and that's not something I'm proud of, its more of a fact.

This year is going to be different. I want to share my love of fall and the holidays with MC and my husband. I want to make new family traditions that the three of us can look forward to every year. I want to celebrate a Thanksgiving where no one seated at the table says they're thankful the arguing has ended. I want MC to experience the season and know the reasons we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I would rather explain to my daughter the reason we don't talk with or see her grandfather than to have her experience the holidays with the anxiety and dread that my brother and I felt each and every year. Yes, this is my favorite time of the year and hopefully, MC and I will be able to share our love of fall together!

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