One of the benefits of an American/Canadian marriage is two Thanksgivings. No, I am not going to lie, there is very little to complain about when faced with turkey and gravy, stuffing and potatoes, veggies and pie, twice per year.
Last year we spent Canadian Thanksgiving in Maine, having our belated wedding with a small collection of family and friends. It was Columbus Day in the United States and Thanksgiving Day in Canada, one of the only holiday weekends (aside from Labour Day) that both countries share outside of religious days Christmas and Easter.
Because of this it was easier to ask people to spend the weekend in Maine knowing they had an extra day to travel and not have to rush back to work on the Monday. But I digress.
We flew out of DFW in clear skies on a direct flight with Air Canada.
The flight was delayed by about an hour with no explanation so we had to make sure we kept those waiting for us on the other side apprised of the situation. Once we got into the air though, everything seemed to go off without a hitch. There were lots of business people on the flight and so it was fairly quiet and uneventful. As per usual my husband let me trade him for the window seat so I could excitedly press my nose to the glass and watch the take off and landing, and look down on the land as we soared above it. My display screen was broken so I listened to the first few chapters of Harry Potter on audio book.
Once we arrived we took the scenic route to my parent’s place from the airport in an attempt to avoid the ungodly 401 eastbound traffic. The roadways were a mess! We drove up through my old stomping ground, Port Perry – where I attended high school some 19 years ago, and then past many of the small towns I grew up in such as Nestleton, Blackstock, and Caesarea. It was strangely distant and familiar at the same time. I could easily claim it has been over a decade since I’ve been through that area and not be exaggerating.
When we arrived at my parent’s home in Peterborough we were greeted by family, and friends. We stayed up late into the night laughing, talking, and catching up on small town things.
The weekend continued in such a way until we were ready to leave. We had family time with my brother, sister in law, and adorable niece. We had family time with my parents. There were surprise visits with extended family and neighbours who wanted to see us. There was playing outside in the crisp but warm autumn air and there was a day of tourism in town. Although I had lived in town briefly, it wasn’t my home, and it was nice to play the tourist and see some sights that I miss and some that I took for granted.
We went to Ashburnham Memorial Park, a large overlook of the area, to see the fall colours and take a few snaps. We went to the Lift Locks to watch the last day of the Lift Lock Tours that takes people along a portion of the Trent Severn Waterway. We walked along the canal and then made our way over to the Canadian Canoe Museum before it begins the arduous process of relocation/expansion.
As quickly as it began, the weekend ended. We packed up our things and headed back to the airport (after a quick stop at Tim Horton’s) and bid goodbye to my loved ones once again. It’s ultimately one of the hardest things that I have to do and I fight back tears every time. I don’t envy the upcoming winter but it breaks my heart to say goodbye to my parents, my brother, my niece, and my extended loved ones for months at a time.
Getting home to Dallas felt good too, don’t get me wrong, but I wish there was a way to have the people I love closer.
I often wonder if all long distance families struggle with this balance, and if so, what the secret may be. A better travel budget, a less busy life, constant skype calls? I’m trying to figure out the balance myself but today, the day after leaving them behind, I am looking at photos of their smiling faces, of the chaos of a big dinner and talks about politics around the table, and I miss them. I wish I had been able to pause time for just a little longer and I look forward to our next family adventure which will be with the in-laws over Christmas.
Happy Thanksgiving to all (or any) of my Canadian readers!
This year I give thanks that I have so many people to miss and love.
*family photos not included to respect privacy.