Giving Thanks

One common trait of ADHD brains is the inability to gauge how long a given task will take to complete. In my case, it didn’t occur to me that tallying up 11 months’ worth of daily gratitude might take more than, say, an hour or so.

I was way, WAY off.

I had hoped to get a quick blog post up for Thanksgiving Day, just mentioning the things I’m always thankful for in my nightly gratitude journal. As it is, I spent some time on the project on Wednesday and Thursday morning, and still only made it through July before I needed to dive headlong into all the necessary preparations and other adulting over the long weekend.

We hosted Thanksgiving again this year, with my brother-in-law and my Mom coming to visit. Sous vide turkey, oyster stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, roasted root vegetables, cinnamon-honey spread, rolls, and my brother-in-law’s famous green bean casserole comprised the feast, with sugar-free mini pumpkin cheesecakes for dessert.

Since my Mom isn’t keen on driving in the dark, and she would have had to leave our house by mid-afternoon to get home before sunset, she stayed overnight and slept on the pull-out hide-a-bed in the living room. From what she told me the next morning, our cat Baxter got pretty cozy with her at times.

The next morning, before Aaron got up, Connor beat Grammy and me at a game of Sorry, then he went off to play his Switch while I let Grammy beat me in rummy. Once Aaron got up, we all went to lunch before Grammy headed home.

Saturday afternoon, we put up the Christmas tree. At Aaron’s suggestion, we drilled eye-hooks into the baseboards to anchor the tree in hopes of some measure of cat-proofing. We also decided to leave off the delicate and breakable ornaments, like the vintage Baby’s First Christmas or anything that would shatter if it met up with the tile floor in the foyer.

This was actually one of our more successful tree-trimmings, in that no one got irritable or frustrated during the course of the afternoon. Connor even took the initiative to go play with Baxter elsewhere in the house while we were anchoring the tree, to redirect all that nervous kitty energy.

And so begins the holiday season…

Snowy Birthday Bookends

Here in Ohio, I like to remind people that the last snow often happens on or around my birthday, in late April.

Surprisingly, even though Aaron’s birthday is well within the range of first-snow dates, he said he couldn’t recall it actually snowing on his birthday before this year.

I think we managed to give Aaron a pleasant birthday this year. We started off with a small gift (Season 2 of Star Trek: The Lower Decks on Blu-Ray, plus a cassette tape pin and a Connor-made card), followed up by lunch at one of our go-to breakfast-food destinations (where he had a free birthday lunch). After lunch, we stopped by the nearby Starbucks to get Aaron’s free birthday drink.

(Side note: We’ve been loyal Starbucks customers long enough to remember when the free birthday drink didn’t have to be purchased ON your actual birthday. For the past several years, we’ve both just given up on the birthday drink, since Starbucks — despite there being so many in the Toledo area — is just not convenient to our usual routes and routines on weekdays. Aaron’s Saturday birthday this year was a welcome break from this trend.)

Earlier in the day, Connor and I had seen a sign for an estate sale in our neighborhood, so on our way home from Starbucks, we swung by where it had been. Unfortunately, the sale had already wrapped up by 2pm on a Saturday, and they’d actually taken the sign down (which seems to be a step that’s often forgotten, though more for garage sales than estate sales).

Once we got home, we unearthed one of our favorite tabletop games from its storage spot in the basement, where it’s been laying in wait for some ten years to be rediscovered: Carcassonne. As part of our birthday present to Dad, I had gotten Connor to agree to play a game of Dad’s choice after lunch, and I suggested this as one that we would all enjoy. (It’s been years since the epic Candy Land Incident, but none of us had quite gotten over it.)

Aaron and I hadn’t played the physical version of Carcassonne for literally ten years, preferring instead to fire up the Xbox version when the mood would strike. There’s something satisfying about physically placing tiles and pieces, though, and being around a table face-to-face.

Connor picked up on the rules pretty quickly, especially since discussing where your selected tile should be placed on the board is part of the game. We were able to show him all of the legal places he could place a tile, and explain to him why he would want to build onto this city versus that road.

I’m not sure if it was because there was a finite end to the game (when all the tiles have been played) or because Connor was in the lead for much of the game, but he didn’t complain about being bored or wanting to quit (which has historically been his board game M.O.), and actually seemed to enjoy the game. Connor was clearly disappointed when Dad won the game in the end, mostly thanks to a farmer placed early in the game, but he was a good sport and didn’t complain about losing.

After the game, we all had some time to ourselves. I got a hair up my butt to organize the games cabinet and eject all the little kid games that Connor will never be playing again (like Pop-Up Pirate, for which we actually bought extra swords to replace the ones the previous owner had lost before donating it). Connor played on his Switch, and Aaron tended to some eBay sales.

Aaron’s choice of dinner destinations was our favorite Korean restaurant, where we’ve been patrons since before Connor was born. When Aaron stepped away from the table near the end of our meal, I let our server know about his birthday, which resulted in a surprise dessert of cheesecake bites (which we all shared).

Birthdays aren’t really a big to-do once you hit real adulthood, but Connor and I wanted to make this one kind of low-key special. I think we succeeded.

Love you, Honey-Muffin!