When she didn’t answer my obligatory knock on the side door, I let myself in: “We’re here! Hello!!!”
Dogs barked, three of them – the one who’s looked at me suspiciously for 1o years, the one we found together at the pound 11 years ago and the new puppy.
Then small feet pitter-pattered across the floor and there was yelling, “AHHHH!!! Auntie Holly is here!!”, and then leaping and his 6.5-year-old self was wrapped up in my arms in a wiggly hug.
For Thanksgiving, he’s the crazy I chose.
His mom appeared around the corner and we hugged long time – the kind of hug we’d been gearing each other up for days earlier. “Be prepared. I’m going to hug you for a long time.” Consider it done.
Together the next day we laid out a spread of food for her extended family – one that I’ve been an honorary member of for more than a decade. Her aunts and mom met my husband for the first time (“He is so handsome, and smart, and cute. You better keep an eye on my aunt.”), and her mom, verbatim, said the words I’d predicted she’d say when she met my husband: “Holly, I owe you a shovel and a rake.” My husband looked at me questioningly. “She knew me when I lived in a barn. I could’ve used a shovel and rake then.”
They are the crazy I chose.
We shopped for 11 hours.
I chose that crazy too.
As in all the years past, her in-laws swept me and now my husband up into their family celebrations, and we ate another Thanksgiving dinner together, and made small talk about how quickly the kids are growing up and how the family keeps growing. Someone asked my husband when we were having a kid. He replied: We have two dogs.
That’s the crazy we chose for this holiday.
I played games, read stories, built Legos with her mini-me and karaoke’d in the kitchen. I taught the new puppy to lay down and loved on the old man-dog.
All those 50-something hours together – all of them are the crazy I chose.
“Vinn, what are you thankful for this year?”
“My family and friends,” he replied.
“I’m your friend, right?”
He threw me an exasperated eye roll.
“NO. You’re FAMILY.”