Wow. We survived the holiday experience relatively intact. There were some close calls, especially after the idea came up to delay E’s flight home until Monday morning, thus sticking us with him for 2 more nights. Luckily, that was shot down immediately by D (after I dragged him into the garage by his collar for some tense, growled conversation). Some of us came closer to extermination than they realize (specifically D followed very closely by E), but everyone got out alive, without overly damaging ourselves or others.

That would not have been the case if we’d spent one more day (minute) in each others’ company. In so many ways, timing really is everything…

The big Thanksgiving Bash (probably about 75 people), which included a hayride requiring 2 trailers, was fun. It was a blast, but it still managed to be much worse than I’d thought it would be. At one point, I ended up at the back pen (conveniently located far away from everyone) petting a mule and hyperventilating. The turnout was impressive, with at least 4 generations of D’s family represented. That means there were children of all ages running (or crawling) around EVERYWHERE. People we saw two years ago who had new babies had reproduced again. There were even 2 pregnant women there to conveniently round out my misery. And this family is on top of things – they announce the oldest members present and the newest, which extended to one very recent newborn and the 2 still in utero. I’ve never made such inane, stupid, uncomfortable conversation with people in my life. I couldn’t remember anyone’s name, couldn’t think of anything to say. I got some pretty curious looks after some of the stupider comments I made. I then spent some time jammed in a corner with D choking down turkey and mac and cheese. I vaguely remember thinking the biscuits were wonderful, but I don’t remember the taste. It was one of those sorts of days. I made it through an hour-long hayride winding through the back pastures of this massive farm, sitting next to my father-in-law while he held his sleeping grandchild. I’m not exactly sure how I made it – I think I spent a lot of time looking up at the stars or out at the cows. My father-in-law was still trying to get us to come stay the night with them (we refused), he was hurt, and D pulled him aside and let him know that this was very hard for us, and I was barely managing to keep my skin on as it was (he’s a engineer and a man, and lots of times he needs these sorts of things pointed out to him). Another funny thing was, when told that E had asked me to move in with us and I had told him no, he said, “Good for you. I’m more than willing to help him out, but he has to talk to me.” That is something E will have to figure out, and probably quite soon. He’s not too forthcoming with information (with anyone), and he managed to reassure me I’d made the right decision every time he opened his mouth on this trip. Very, very difficult individual. I realized just how mad and upset I’d been about the whole prospect when I was literally dancing while cleaning the kitchen after he left town. That’s not something that happens lately, man.

So, the E snarl has been cleanly excised for the time being. I’m sure it’ll resurface at some point, but it’s not in my face right now.

We did have dinner and a visit with the in-laws, the step-brother and his family on Friday. I even played with the 2 year old, helped him enthusiastically build and destroy his Thomas the Train set-up, rolled all over the carpet with him and held him in my lap when he got tired. He’s a smart, cute kid, and I enjoyed spending time with him. When I damn near lost it was when he was asked if he’d give me hugs and sugar upon our departure, and he leaned right in and smacked me on the mouth, hugging my face with his little hands. That was hard…..

So, we’re very glad to be home. The trip was…..character building in lots of ways, but there were also good things to be found and experienced. Maybe I’m getting better at compartmentalizing after all….