My family and I have just spent another Thanksgiving with our extended family in the city where both of my parents were born and raised, and where the majority of the family still resides, Cleveland, OH. This being my first Thanksgiving as a married man, my wife and I doubled up by visiting her family in Lancaster, PA as well. Coincidentally, the two cities where our respective families were raised happen to be only a six hour drive apart from one another, so we decided to start what may become a new tradition of driving between the two each year, with a one night break from the families halfway in Pittsburgh, PA, on what happens to be my wife’s birthday…how’s that for a party?!
A few weeks ago I turned 30 years old, which means, I believe, that this was my 30th Thanksgiving in Cleveland. Growing up as a kid, it was easy to find spending time with family ‘boring’. Annual trips here were rarely ‘fun’, and usually consisted of sitting around my grandmother’s apartment playing Gin Rummy for hours on end, as there was constantly ‘nothing else to do’. We always fly in on Wednesday evening and fly out Sunday afternoon. We’d do a dinner at Grandy’s on night one, Thanksgiving day at my Aunt and Uncles, go out to dinner on Friday evening with the big group, Saturday was at the other Aunt and Uncles home, and Sunday we’d all go out to brunch. Routine, predicable, and for me, normal. It really wasn’t until this year that I feel I totally stopped taking all of this for granted. Perhaps it’s me getting older, or maybe it’s the fact that grandmother’s health is rapidly deteriorating, and now she’s in assisted living instead of the apartment I’m so used to. Whatever the case, I finally feel like Thanksgiving is what it should be to me. A time to reflect and feel grateful for what I have currently, as well as what I’ve always had up and until this point. A beautiful wife, a wonderful (dysfunctional, but whose isn’t) family, and several homes to visit during this holiday, with each having a special place in my heart.
One day I look forward to starting my own family tradition in my hometown of Denver, be it for Thanksgiving or otherwise, now that I see how special this holiday has been to me over the first part of my life, even though I’m realizing it perhaps a bit late. Thanks to all my family who has made this epiphany possible for me, and for giving me a lesson on what’s really important in my life.