‘Tis the Season…

‘Tis the season for eating like a bear just out of hibernation and adding peppermint to every cocktail. Yay! The clearest indicator of the holidays’ arrival is this girl’s borderline obesity and rehab-ready alcohol consumption. The halls are only partially decked. Only two gifts are purchased and I’d rather write about it than actually go do something about it.

Thanksgiving found all the Chickens roosting round this fire. The presence of one was a surprise. Ventured to the airport Wednesday to retrieve Baby Chicken from the land of Roll Tide. Heads up ladies–no idea I was being stalked from across the airport. I was being watched, every move scrutinized and relayed to me later. Greeting Baby Chicken, wrapping my arms about her tiny frame, promising to fill her college-starved tummy with real food and walking toward the car–all being observed by an unlikely visitor.

It is reported later that I stood against a wall awaiting the Roll Tide plane. It is noted that me standing back, away, is unnatural for my usual airport jaunts. So excited are some mothers that when chickens return home from college, we are known to plant ourselves square in view of those exiting the jet way, arms out and screaming, sometimes jumping up and down. If you choose not to behave in such a way, you don’t love your children. Pfft. The reason I am standing against the wall is the pregnant mom with two little ones awaiting family on same Roll Tide plane. I know. I asked her. Each of the children grip two pieces of paper. When held up, in the correct order, which takes some practice, the signs say, “We (heart) you Tata and Papa.” Heart swell. If I step away from the wall, Tata and Papa will not be able to see the sign. I offer to stand behind the trio, but the mother declines. So I grip the wall and await not just Baby Chicken but Tata and Papa’s arrival as well.

Alas, I do not see Tata and Papa for as soon as Baby Chicken enters my view, I see no one else. I tell the little ones next to me, “Watch closely, this is Tata and Papa’s plane.” I grasp Baby Chicken’s little body and hold it close, knowing for a few days at least, she is safe. Not that she isn’t safe all the other days of the year, but this I can control, sort of. As we chatter about the girl who barfed on the plane, a voice calls out, “Hey, (Our Last Name).” We turn and are stunned to find our very own Middle Chicken following behind. Whaaa? Not the best with surprises, I simply stand dumbfounded, not fully recognizing this child of mine. I do, however, make small squeaky sounds paired with incoherent words. I doubt it is the reaction for which she has hoped.

But this story is the story of why I love Thanksgiving, aside from an excuse for obesity and alcohol consumption run amok.

Thanksgiving is the best, simply the best. It possesses none of the pressures of Christmas or a birthday–the pressure to follow a schedule, the traditions of blended families and perfect gifts. Some of us feel a need to fan ourselves, the pressure is so great. Thanksgiving is instead a celebration–of thanks, of others and of food and drink. Aside from the production of the meal, which is quite a feat in itself, there is no other expectation. The point of the day is to enjoy each other, eat and watch football. I want to marry the guy who invented this holiday.

My hands shake at the realization that all the chickens and Baby Pea will indeed be together this Turkey Day. And it is Taco Wednesday. Generally, Taco Night is Sunday, with Oldest Chicken and Baby Pea joining me for dinner, dirty martinis and either Mad Men or Newsroom or Earth or something equally brainy as we are nothing less than erudite, don’t you know? Middle Chicken teared up last week when I told her the night before Thanksgiving would be Taco Wednesday. She pronounced her hatred for us all, digesting chicken tacos without her. Imagine our shock and awe when there she stood, in the flesh, at the airport in time for Taco Wednesday.

Taco Night is not our only accomplishment. We share our holiday meal, amazing as it was, with the Goddess and The Other Norwegian, the cousins and some extras. So much fun. We gorge as if we just got out of prison having eaten nothing but bologna on white bread for a couple of years. Those sweet potatoes didn’t know what hit them. There are sweat pants to be worn, movies to watch, football in which to partake including a heartbreaking loss to Auburn for which Tide lovers will need some recovery time. Please stop blaming a twenty-year-old kicker–there is plenty of blame to go around. Part way through we think we may have to revive Baby Chicken and her couch coaching but by game’s end, she finds her only consolation through friends who share her grief.

Oh–and the Chickens introduce a new addiction–American Horror Story. Don’t let the title keep you away. Yes, there are plenty of ghouls and frights but the story is so gripping the viewer is lost in the story and not left so frightened that peeing alone is out of the question. Except for that thing in the basement–Yikes. I just turned on some lights–seriously. This leads to deep conversation with Baby Chicken concerning tight writing and imagery within words and pictures and the ability of fine writers to take subject matter on a journey of highs and lows, of ins and outs and the rare quality to wrap content neatly in a fine wired bow at the end, satisfying everyone. And their need to get the socks scared off of them.

But this morning as I munch on a healthy breakfast of Nacho Cheese Doritos and Tab it is gratitude filling my heart. The thing I am most grateful for is having all the chickens home. It was not the plan. It was too far, too short a time and too expensive for Middle Chicken. Yet, there she was, calling out to us in a crowded airport, enormous smile intact. How? That, my friend, is woven in the magic of the holidays and the thankfulness for this one in particular.

Two of her dear friends know her sadness at not returning home for the first time. Her dearest doll, who is a blessing to know and we count as one of our own, has a well-traveled family. They pooled extra points to send my child home. Who does that? Only a family that knows the ache of a loved one across country at the holidays. Another friend, Mr. Florida Boy, paid the tax. The pair presented their precious gift to Middle Chicken as they all trimmed their holiday tree. “Look. There is a little present under the tree,” Middle Chicken relays the story.

There is no need for worry over gifts and trimming and lights and silliness when the world is filled with this kind of love and friendship. The many blessings of this holiday season are people. As it should be.

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