Friday, November 2, 2012

on Thanksgiving

Scott and I are going to Iowa for Thanksgiving this year, for the second year in a row. 

Part of me feels guilty, that we’re celebrating with my family instead of his. 

But the bigger part of me is thrilled.  I get to celebrate with the family that I don’t see nearly enough, who I miss so much on a daily basis. 

Where to celebrate Thanksgiving is a symptom of a bigger conversation that we’ve been having, and that we’ve been having at increasingly frequent intervals.  It used to be something we’d talk about once in a while, and now it’s an almost daily conversation, because having children is an idea that is getting closer on the horizon.  Where do we want to raise our family?  And while the choices are not limited to Chicago versus Iowa, that’s definitely where the focus is.

I’ll be the first to say that my love for Chicago runs deep, but I also must admit that Iowa is pulling me West.  (And no one is more surprised by this than me).  It’s hard to wrap my head around the idea of leaving Chicago, because it’s been my home for five and a half years - five and a half great years.   But as great as the years have been, there’s always been something missing.  (I need to say that I've been lucky to share Chicago with my awesome Aunt & Uncle, and beloved brother/sister-in-law-to-be). 

Technology has certainly made it easier, and it’s the reason I’ve been able to tolerate the distance.  Unlimited cell phone minutes, daily phone calls and emails,  Facetime, and as-frequent-as-possible roadtrips.  But even with video calling, it’s not the same as having a beer together, or witnessing a graduation or a birthday party or taking a walk.

We are surrounded by Scott’s family here in Chicago, and that’s a great thing, especially for Scott.  We are able to see his parents all the time - Saturday  brunch, or Sunday dinner at their home, or Saturday dinner out.   We have double dates with his awesome cousins and their boyfriends.  His dad helps him with car issues, his mom packs him leftovers. We go to baptismal celebrations and birthday parties for his cousin's children, tea parties with his aunts and cousins and his brother’s 21st.  Scott had a birthday party this past summer with about 15 relatives in attendance – he glowed happiness the entire night.  This weekend alone, Scott has plans to have brunch with his dad on Saturday morning, dinner with a cousin, his mom, and possibly an aunt on Saturday night, and have a cousin spend Saturday night/Sunday morning with us!  He knows how lucky he is to have his family around for weekend fun and races and LIFE.  I’m thrilled that Scott gets to have his family so involved in our life and be so involved in theirs… but I want that too.  I want my parents to be able to come to my 5K, or to go there for dinner when Austin’s home from school.  I haven’t been to a birthday party for one of my siblings in over 5 years – and my cousins in much longer than that. I celebrate my parents birthdays with them a month early or late or via Facetime. I haven’t been home for Easter or Halloween or Near Years or the 4th of July.  I’ve never met my cousin’s 6 week old son or my other cousin’s 3 month old apartment, or my brother’s college apartment.  I didn't get to go to any of my brother’s graduations or 21st birthdays.  I miss my high school and college friends, many of whom live in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.  So many family members live in Iowa - 25! - and I so terribly miss being a part of that group.

I love Scott’s family, and his cousins are so terrific that I’d want to be their friend even if I wasn’t married to their cousin.  And I'm thrilled that we've been able to celebrate so many occasions with them.  But I want to celebrate with my family, too, and it just doesn't happen nearly as often.

The "family time" is so completely lopsided against the out-of-staters, which means that it's lopsided against my family.  And it has been for over five years.  And even being surrounded by Scott's wonderful family, I still deeply miss my own.

So yes, this year we’re celebrating Thanksgiving in Iowa.  And I am so unbelievably excited.

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