Monday, November 28, 2005
Happy Day, Turkey.
We have ventured into the strange and alien world of New York, and returned largely intact.

Thanksgiving dinner was hosted at my mother's house this year, which was initially a perfect situation for me because it meant there was really no likelihood at all that the in-laws would show up. In several recent years, we've gone to Willem's aunt's house in NJ, but they just came up to visit the other week and we didn't feel quite strong enough to face his whole family at once. We thought about having dinner at home, but then there is the very real risk of my mother-in-law inviting herself, and I haven't figured out how to cope with that situation yet. It happens with alarming regularity, and so far my Polite Self outranks my True Desires Self.

But neither of my parents-in-law like my own parents, so we were safe at my mother's. However, then came the new and fun dimension of my parents' very recent (i.e., the summons happened 2 weeks ago and it will be final within the month) divorce, yet my father invited himself to my mother's. Hmmm. All sorts of potential nastiness there...

But, alas, what a disappointment. Everyone behaved themselves beautifully, and there were no traumatic incidents at all. How am I supposed to write long, whining posts without some drama? I mean, REALLY.

(Though I seem to be managing just fine, I think...)

The only change of plans occurred when we left a day earlier than expected. Since we started dating, Willem has had an allergic reaction to something in my mother's house. My mother always blamed it on the cat, which is an indoor cat and lived only in the (finished) basement, which is also where the pull-out couch is. This never quite jived with me, seeing as how Willem grew up with great multitudes of cats - I think his mother had 10 at one point - and they never gave him the sniffle-and-snort syndrome that he developed at my mother's. My guess was some sort of mold in the basement which the rest of us aren't sensitive to.

The cat died a few weeks ago, and since then my mother has completely steam-cleaned and rearranged the basement. So it LOOKS great, and she insisted that this way Willem could sleep down there. Now, let me back up a second - Willem's allergies would flare up the worst in the basement, within 10-15 minutes, but he was leaky and whiny anywhere in the house within a few hours, so I can't blame it on just the basement. And steam-cleaning the rug doesn't fix the couch and cushions and everything else... but there I go, injecting logic into the world again. I'll stop.

The moral of the story is, this year, for the first time, Willem's allergies went beyond oozing and complaining into wheezing and gasping for breath and having pain in his lungs. And I know that some people might consider his desire for oxygen to be a tad unreasonable, but I was willing to accept that *maybe* breathing would make for a better weekend.

So we left early.

Spent the day Friday in Syracuse with Jessi and her family, lunch at the Dinosaur, where the food is good and it's loud enough that my children appeared to be well-behaved in contrast. Then a few hours at the MOST (Museum of Science and Technology) before we embarked on the 7-hour drive home. Which was annoying in the moment, but on Saturday it felt soooooo good to already BE home.

Even the drive was uneventful - the only moments of excitement happened on the 30 miles between Albany and the first rest area on the Mass Pike, when Willem and I just watched the gas gauge go down, down, down, well below that orange section which indicates "empty." We did manage to coast into the gas station, and he put 19 gallons in the tank. Which only HOLDS 19 gallons. Yippee, what an adventure. That is, Willem viewed it as an adventure, as evidenced by his maniacal laughter as we neared the gas station and then his tactful and restrained gloating that he always knew we could make it. I was a wee bit less enthused as I pictured us all shivering at the side of the road, in the dark. Next time I'll pay the extra 30¢ per gallon in New York, thanks.

So, we're home. We've been home three days and Emily has already had croup and a GI bug. Busy girl. Now we all have head colds and are appropriately sniffly, but Willem is breathing again so life is good.