Thursday, November 25, 2010

A White Thanksgiving - And Musings on Trying Not to Freak Out

Late last night, I touched down in Vancouver after four days in chilly (and very gray) Toronto. Sadly, conferencing and work kept me too busy to explore beyond a two block radius, so no fun Toronto post this time, but this morning I woke up to three revelations I wanted to share. 1) It's Thanksgiving. (very anticlimatic in Canada as Canadian Thanksgiving happens in October). 2) There are another three inches of fresh beautiful snow covering the skylight over our bed. 3) We leave Vancouver in exactly 4 weeks. (cue minor heart palpitations).

I'll tackle these in reverse order - with the first being perhaps the most emphatic. Holy crap. We leave in four weeks. We've been planning and thinking about this trip for 5 years and in 28 days, we are going to put on our backpacks and hit the road. The jobs end, new people come live in our house, the cats get an extended vacation in California, we give a final squeeze to our friends' beautiful babies who will likely be walking and talking by the time we get home, and all combined this is the recipe for fairly serious bouts of panic. And ecstatic joy. There haven't been any Sarah spontaneous tears yet, but oh boy, you know they're coming.

And amidst all of our planning, packing, and applying for VISAs, its been snowing all week. Having grown up in California, the only time I saw snow was on vacation around Lake Tahoe, so for me, snow signals that feeling of take-a-deep-breath, spend-an-extra-fifteen-minutes-in-bed, put-on-snow-boots-to-tackle-three-inches-of-snow-cause-it's-awesome kinda relaxation. I wake up smiling every time it snows in Vancouver, I can't help it, it just makes me feel like I'm going to head outside, build a snow cave, pelt my brothers with snowballs, and sled down the hill, even when all I'm doing is heading to the office. Fortunately it doesn't snow enough in Vancouver for me to have to grow to resent the sidewalk scraping, slow commute, and general disarray of snowy weather. I hope this feeling never wears off.

Finally the third revelation. It's suddenly Thanksgiving. It came without any fanfare here in Canada as it usually does, located in the lull between Canadian Thanksgiving in October and Christmas break. I'm attending an awards presentation and Sarah's working, so as of this morning we had no plans at all.

I have those types of Thanksgiving traditions that go along with a family that went through divorce when we were kids - some vaguer memories of Thanksgivings at home as kids, playing in the leaves in the front of the house in Walnut Creek, or maybe in the stream in the back of the property if it was flowing full of rainwater, then more distinct memories of the range of different family traditions we tried on in the years afterward, with a varying constellations of family members, special dishes, and different cities. Always fun and full of family love, which was the constant to accompany the flux of change. And then leaving home, going to college and later to New York, meeting Sarah, and eventually developing a holiday trade-off where Thanksgiving is with her family here in Vancouver (being celebrated next weekend), and Christmas is with mine. It's been wonderful to be able to spend time with both families at the holidays and try out new traditions with each (tofurkey was definitely a one-year experiment only, but Sarah was so excited to see that she now had a stocking over the mantle at both of my parents' places).

The holidays are a time of traditions and family and I  look forward seeing my Vancouver family tonight, and to calling my California family later to say Happy Thanksgiving and hopping on the plane in four weeks to see them for Christmas. And to return to tonight - deciding we couldn't just do nothing on Thanksgiving, Sarah and I are meeting up for a late night dinner at our favorite English pub around the corner from the house (Three Lions). There might not be turkey, but it will be warm, snow will be falling outside of the big windows, and we'll be together. Hard to ask for more than that.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I hope you have a wonderful one filled with food, family and friends (both new and old), and maybe even a little snow as well.

28 days till takeoff.

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