It hit me the other night as I was trying (unsuccessfully) to get to sleep that this was about the time I was originally expecting Ian home from his deployment. Army time doesn’t seem to work like civilian time, so to avoid frustration whenever Ian used to go off to drill for a day and tell me he’d be home at a certain time I would always add two hours and that was usually closer to the truth. If he was away for a matter of weeks I would add two days. For a full deployment I add two months. I’d rather be pleasantly surprised by having Ian back early than feeling resentful and anxious because he’s late. So last year when he left in September I planned on him being gone a year from that point, plus two months to be safe, which put his return around Thanksgiving.
That time line was originally closer to what was scheduled to happen,
but then the mass troop withdrawals from Iraq kicked in and Ian ended
up coming home earlier than expected. Back in August. Which means
we’ve had more than 100 additional days with Ian that I hadn’t planned
on. I’ve gotten so used to having him home that I took for granted that
he’s here. The concept that we could have lived these past few months
with him still deployed kind of shook me up.
I keep thinking about all the additional things Ian would have missed if he were just coming home now. He would not have seen my grandma
one more time before she died. He would not have met my cousin’s new
baby. He would not have been here for the first day of school, or the
girls’ choir concerts, or parent-teacher conferences, or Quinn learning
to read. He would have missed Trick-or-Treat which means seeing the kids’ costumes
only on this blog instead of watching Mona the Dalmatian bounding ahead
in search of candy and carrying Quinn in his blue jay outfit when he
was too tired to walk (or fly). Plus I would still be frazzled, my
store would still be messy, the gutters would be overflowing with
leaves, and the kids would not have been able to do swimming lessons.
It would be life during deployment,
which is incredibly stressful. I think I’d already blocked out how
hard it was because I want that time to be firmly in the past. The idea
that by my own calendar I could still be living it kind of hit me in
I was feeling a little down about this Thanksgiving. We were going
to host dinner at our house for friends and my parents, but the friends
were able to visit family, and my dad’s health has been giving us all a
scare recently so he understandably doesn’t want to travel. With more
notice I would have liked to extend an invitation to maybe another
family in the area who has someone deployed and could use a hassle free
Thanksgiving meal, but at this late date people seem to know what
they’re doing. So it’s just our own little family.
That sounded a bit lonely to me at first, but after counting up all
the extra days with Ian that I have to be thankful for, I can see this
holiday for what it really is. It’s a chance to spend a nice day with
my husband and all my children in our home. We will have pumpkin pie
for breakfast, I’m going to teach Aden how to make twice baked potatoes,
we will have cranberries in the traditional shape of a can because it
makes us laugh, and I will cook the green bean casserole that I’m the
only one who eats but we have to have because otherwise it’s not really
Thanksgiving. I can’t wait!
It’s so easy to focus on what you lack instead of what you’ve got.
Especially with the passing of my grandma I’m more keenly aware of how
many other people in my life I miss but seldom see. I want more time
and I want less distance. Sad roads to go down are easy to find.
But I got extra time with Ian. I’d forgotten about it. The same way
we tend to forget that every day is extra time. Thanksgiving with my
husband and kids isn’t lonely. It’s the best thing there is. And this
year I am extra thankful. I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday!
Robyn (who also builds violins)
and her husband didn’t have a big plan for Thanksgiving, and they
agreed to come join us for dinner. It was great, and it felt right
because at its heart I believe the holiday is really about sharing. We
got to teach them Spite and Malice,
and they taught us Kings in the Corner, which was also a lot of fun.
Plus we got to play viola duets for a little while, and how cool is that
to have each of us playing on instruments we made ourselves? We’ve
decided we should try our hands at composing to complete the loop and
not need anyone else in the process. Anyway, it was an awesome
Thanksgiving. Mona made an amazing paper turkey as a centerpiece, the
food came out fine, we turned on the disco ball for awhile, Quinn hid
plastic frogs for people to find…. Definitely one of the best
Thanksgivings ever. Hope the same was true for all of you!