Thanksgiving. A time to reflect, a time to count blessings, a time to give thanks. I am a most lucky lady and have many, many things to be thankful for: 2 healthy, funny children, a wonderful extended family, great opportunities. Health insurance. Lots of shoes and several furry hats. But this holiday, I am giving thanks to the person I never thank enough.
Fifteen Thanksgivings ago, over a slice of pumpkin pie and a conversation about Ophelia, the most extraordinary thing happened. I fell in love. It was a classic boy on holiday gate crashes cynical girl’s Thanksgiving extravaganza and sweeps her off her sweet potato feet. A tall, dark stranger, who later admitted he was only interested in a free meal after a night on the city, standing at the door, awaiting an invitation to a holiday feast he had no inkling about. And the clichés fell thick and fast after that. He got on a plane and returned home to London the next day and I swore to my sister that I would marry him. This, from the girl who had sperm donors lined up in case she was 35 and child-less, from the girl who had never dreamed of confectionary wedding dresses or even a wedding at all, from the girl who was quite happily tripping her way through her twenties in the city of dreams with nary a dream of doing it with someone else.
A phone call, an invitation. A whirlwind, fairy tale, this-only-happens-in-the-movies relationship. Plane tickets and weekend visits. Whispered promises and secrets and shy confessions across crackling long distance telephone lines. Monthly arguments with the phone company regarding their persistent forgetfulness at applying my international plan (Oh for e-mail!). A proper fairy tale (probably one of the last things I wrote), romantic dinners with fish courses and giggles. A mixed tape! And six months later, a tall, dark stranger waiting at the airport with one bag and a whole lotta faith.
So for you, my better half, I give thanks. Thank you for giving up your job and your friends and your life to give it a whirl. Thank you for having the courage in me to propose, in front of a room full of revelers, on the eve of a new century. Thank you for taking over the seating chart for our wedding and finishing it in 3 minutes when I was pulling out my hair in clumps. Thank you for keeping a sense of humor and a sense of dignity when we had to navigate the distinctly unfunny and bumpy road to parenthood. Thank you for meeting me at the subway station in a sudden downpour with an umbrella when I had forgotten mine. Thank you for not divorcing me during the hormonal roller coaster of 2 pregnancies. Thank you for teaching me how to make better scrambled eggs. Thank you for holding me through the pain of miscarriages, for being my rock, my sword in the stone, my shield and armor when I said goodbye to my father for the last time. Thank you for teaching me how to play a more strategic game of Scrabble. Thank you for having faith in me as a person, as a mother, as a woman, as a writer. Thank you for encouraging me in whatever I do, and more importantly, for leaving me alone when I don’t do anything. Thank you for talking me into buying the Prada shoes. I loved those shoes. Thank you for recognizing that the ‘red mist’ of the crazy pre menopausal woman I turn into sometimes is not really me and being able to greet the normal me when I return. Thank you for turning down golf games and turning off football matches to take the kids to someone else’s birthday party.
Thank you for coming home to us every night.
And so once upon a time, on the second to last Thursday in November, a boy met a girl. He ate some not so tasty pumpkin pie and impressed her with knowledge of Shakespeare. And the rest is his-tory, her-story. Our-story.