Microblog Mondays: Thankful

It was Thanksgiving here north of the border a couple of weekends ago. Q. and I opted to rent a cottage for the weekend, rather than making the drive to see my parents, partly because we couldn’t face the idea of driving in holiday traffic in both directions after the abject horrors of said drive the previous year and partly because we realized that we hadn’t gone anywhere without friends or family since August 2014, when E. was three.

It felt both wrong and right to put my little nuclear family first, even though we found another weekend this fall where we could go to see my parents (E. has the Friday off from school and we’ll pull him out on the Monday as it’s not feasible to do both houses unless we have four days) and there’s the possibility that my father might be actually moved into his new house by mid-November. Gaining an extra five hours to visit (instead of sitting in traffic) and avoiding the horrors of visiting in the ICU with a toddler in tow seemed like a no-brainer, but I still felt guilty knowing that my sisters had made similar decisions and this meant that all the parents would be alone over the holidays. Our family is not in extreme crisis any longer, but it would be a lie if I said either situation was easy at the moment.

When asked if I was looking forward to the cottage, I said that I expected it would be not remotely relaxing but that it would be a nice change of scene, and (surprise, surprise) I was right.

There were some excellent moments (E. learning to kayak, discovering a tree castle on an island in the middle of the lake that E. could climb, watching the storms blow in and blow out again, E. catching tiddlers off of the dock, P. sitting up on the big outdoor benches eating her lunch) and some less than perfect ones (having both kids screaming within ten minutes of going outside because E. had fallen off a wooden swing and hurt his tailbone and the swing had then swung forward to smack P. in the head, not going hiking with our friends because the car couldn’t get back up the driveway that I had told Q. on arrival I didn’t think we should drive down, but which Q. thought would be fine, and then taking two hours to get said car up the driveway, breaking a taillight in the process). P. struggled with the slope of the ground between the cottage and the lake (read: fell down a lot), and tried to throw herself (or any toys within reach) off the dock at every opportunity.

E. had a blast.

Q. and I each managed to get in a bit of solo kayaking, and Q. even braved the lake for a (very) brief swim. I didn’t get much time to play with my camera, but I did what I could.




A cottage will be easier next year, when P. is older, and even easier the year after that, but I am trying not to wish away the phase of life that is my present. Two years ago we went to another cottage with friends for Thanksgiving. I had learned I was pregnant the day before we left. We didn’t yet know how it would turn out, but now, two years later, here was P., giggling and smiling and climbing into the kayak when she thought we weren’t looking.

I am so thankful.

How do you balance vacation time between your immediate family and your extended one(s)? Does anyone else find this incredibly difficult?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.


Filed under Blink and you'll miss it, Choose Happiness, E.- the seventh year, Microblog Mondays, P.- the second year, What were we thinking? (aka travelling with small children)

4 responses to “Microblog Mondays: Thankful

  1. I can totally relate to the dichotomy here: beautiful fantastic times and not-so-perfect moments. That sums up our family trip earlier this year too. Gorgeous pictures!

  2. I love your photos, and it all sounded lovely. Every so often my husband and I have decided to travel at Christmas. My parents are now gone, but if we didn’t travel at least one of my sisters was around to ensure they had someone with them on the day. But I have felt guilty travelling and knowing that they would be alone – though a cousin always makes sure they get a Christmas lunch invitation if we’re not around. But you know, my husband said to me that we have to live our life too, as much as possible. And we have very fond memories of getting a beach cottage, or venturing further afield. Personally I really love escaping, just the two of us, rather than going through the formal traditions, when we feel something is missing.

  3. Serene views indeed! Though you spent little time with your camera..justice is done! I belong from an Indian family and here in India we have a culture of combined families. so we all stay together with parents. So never arises a question of missing them as we are with them most of the time. So, my vacation i usually spend with friends or sometimes with family and other family friends 🙂

  4. Good question!! The time (& money) we spend visiting my family has been a bone of contention in my marriage, on & off. When we got married, I told dh that his family could see us anytime they wanted (since we all live in the same area) — I wanted to spend Christmas with my family (in Manitoba). We haven’t missed one in 32 years of marriage; i.e., I have NEVER spent Christmas without my family. I always thought in the back of my mind that when we had kids, we might get my parents & sister to come spend Christmas with us… and you know how that worked out. We’ve almost always spent at least a week or two in the summer with my family as well. Of course, when I was first working, I only HAD two or three weeks of vacation, so there it all went. So we haven’t travelled as much as I would have liked to — even now that we’re retired and have all the time in the world. I am always hoping for more. 😉

    Holidays like Thanksgiving & Easter are kind of contentious for me too, for different reasons. My MIL died before I ever met her; FIL is remarried & often spends holidays with stepMIL’s family. They will sometimes invite us, but sometimes not, and often we’ll get the invitation at the last minute, which drives me up the wall. BIL is often with or hosting his wife’s family, and they don’t always have room for us too. Our house was too small to host the whole family (so is our condo), & at any rate, the idea of having more than a few people over for coffee petrifies me. 😉 If I had my druthers, we would head up north to a resort somewhere for Thanksgiving & enjoy the fall colours, but dh feels guilty about FIL & wants to be around for him IF he calls.

    I did not know until just a few years ago that FIL had started laying a guilt trip on dh about not spending Christmas with him… poor dh carried that with him for years. I told him if he’d told me about it at the time, MAYBE we could have done something different… but how do i tell MY parents (who, unlike FIL, don’t have any living grandchildren) that I’m not coming home for Christmas, for the time in my life, after 56 years?? And really, I don’t think I’m being totally unreasonable… we can see FIL anytime & we are available to spend other holidays with him. We rarely miss one of his birthdays; I haven’t been home for my mother or sister’s birthdays in years. (We are sometimes there for my dad’s, in the summer.)

    So that’s a long way of saying I can relate. 🙂 Glad you had a good time, & I love the photos! I’ve always said I wouldn’t want the responsibility/upkeep of a cottage — but I wouldn’t mind renting or being invited to visit one now & then. 🙂

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