I’m going home for Thanksgiving. Home to Minnesota to my parents house. I haven’t been home for the holidays (Yes, I really just typed that. I'll just go ahead and punch myself in the face now.) in 11 years. That was my first Christmas after moving to Texas and no way was I staying down here where it was 75 degrees and sunny when I could be back home where there was snow. I mean, what’s Christmas without the snow? And as it turned out, the temperatures never got above zero degrees. Yeah, I was really happy to come back to the warm weather after that last visit.
But the last couple of years I’ve been longing to be up north for Christmas again. Last year, the Dallas area got a huge (by southern standards) winter storm on Christmas Eve. It would have been perfect, except that we went to New Orleans for Christmas and missed it. Not that I’m complaining. I was drinking hurricanes and eating gumbo, who the hell cares about snow? But still, my northern roots are calling to me.
My parents are usually in Arizona by this time of year. They are retired snowbirds and can hardly wait to get to Mesa by the end of October. But my dad has been sick this year. He has leukemia and needed to stay close to his doctor in MN for chemo, so they aren’t heading to AZ until after Thanksgiving (he's doing great, by the way. This post isn't about that, but I didn't want to leave you hanging). So I was all “This year is my chance! I should totally go home for Thanksgiving so my parents won’t be alone on the holiday! I’m booking a flight right now!” to Captain Carl. And all three of my sisters agreed with me and booked tickets too.
So I’m flying up on Thursday morning. Because we are poor white trash, we could only afford one ticket so the Captain is staying home to host his side of the family’s Thanksgiving at our house. Which is weird, but whatever because there is already snow on the ground up there! Hooray! It’ll be almost like Christmas! I’m totally building a snowman and making snow angels!
And then I checked the weather channel. The high temp on Thursday up there is going to be 15 degrees. 15 DEGREES. My sister that still lives up there emailed to tell me it’s going to be the coldest Thanksgiving in 20 years.
I mean, I want snow. Snow. Not freezing nostrils. Not temps too cold for my wimpy southern version of a winter jacket to handle. And certainly not so cold that, holy hell, my whole family has to stay inside for 4 days straight. My whole two parent, four sisters and two nieces in a 3 bedroom house family. We’ll kill each other. You may think I’m exaggerating. Rest assured, I am not. Not even a little bit. This is how it will go down:
Me: Hey, let’s go outside!
Sister #1: It’s too cold.
Me: Oh come on! It’ll be fun! We can build a snow fort!
Sister #2: No way.
Sister #3: Let’s play a game.
Sisters #1 and #2: Yeah, let’s!
Me: Oh shit.
Because that is how the murders always start in my family. With a game.
It always starts out with optimism. This time will be different. This time we’ll have fun. This time we’ll all get along. This time no one will accuse anyone else of cheating. This time no one will overturn the table in a fit of rage over coming in second place. But the conclusion is almost always the same. Everyone not talking to everyone. At least one sister crying. At least one other sister calling their husband/boyfriend to tell them she is coming home early. My mom shutting herself up in her room for the rest of the day. And my dad reading the paper, pretending he can’t hear what is happening.
But I’ve decided to be optimistic. This will be a good visit. Only 3.5 days. Just long enough for everyone to stop missing each other and just short enough to keep everyone from getting on each other’s nerves.
Unfortunately, I’ve been recruited by one of my sisters. To go Black Friday shopping. At 4am. In 15 degree weather. I mean, I just….I don’t even……
The thing is, I could have just said no, as the Captain pointed out last night. I could have said no and slept until 10am on my air mattress on the living room floor and pretended not to notice my sister's hurt feelings. But I said yes. Because I know how much it will mean to her. And I’ll play every game anyone wants to play. Because it’s family. And it’s going to be awesome and it’s going to be a blood bath and it’s going to be exhausting and I’m going to love every minute of it.
Because there’s no place like home.
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