Last Thanksgiving, I was very pregnant. I was entering the uncomfortable phase — when my attempts to retrieve something off the floor of the car just didn’t work. This year, I’m celebrating Thanksgiving with a bouncy, happy 11-month-old, who’s crawling everywhere, and who, last night, took a tiny step-stumble forward.
In early December last year, I went to my husband’s office Christmas party in as festive a maternity dress as I could find. This year, we’ll be toasting virtually — they sent us a package we aren’t supposed to open until the event. Very curious what is in it (well, probably not appetizers that need to be refrigerated…)
The kids are all back in virtual school right now. No one is happy about this situation (me included) but they’re being good sports about it. Even the 5-year-old, who has learned to read, which makes virtual instruction far more engaging. The difference in his attention span between March and November is profound.
Last year, I was gearing up for my last trip to give a speech before the baby’s arrival. I booked an event for early December, then I planned to take a maternity leave to the end of March. Little did I know that was the last in-person speech I would give for at least a year, and probably a lot longer (I mean, do you want to go sit in a convention center with 2000 of your closest friends? I suspect the small, internal corporate events will come back in the next year though.) I really had no idea that my husband would get off a train on March 12th and then go nine-plus months without a business trip.
Last Thanksgiving we were looking at all sorts of houses online and going to the occasional open-house. I saw a listing for an old stone home with enough bedrooms that had just come on the market. This Thanksgiving we’re embarking on the renovations and bringing the kids over to run around the yard. By next Thanksgiving we should be living there.
It has been a joyous year in so many ways. It has also been a challenging year. I’m grateful that our friends and family members who’ve had Covid have either recovered or look like they’re going to; I know so many families have gotten worse news. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to see so much of my baby’s first year (and my husband has too) but I have slept through the night for four nights in the last two months. I am existing in a fog, making stupid mistakes and feeling crabby about it. There has been a lot of sibling violence and screen time and everyone being on top of each other.
But we are all still here. The turkey made it out of the freezer. My sister-in-law will be teaching us how to make her secret-family-recipe rolls via zoom. We’ll get a Christmas tree and yet another baby will try to eat the branches. We will keep muddling through.
In other news: Two books to put on your radar! My friend Katherine Chen (author of Mary B, a novel about the lesser-known Pride and Prejudice sister), has a short story in a book called Stories from Suffragette City. The editors had 13 best-selling writers dream up tales from a single day, October 23, 1915, when thousands of women marched up Fifth Avenue demanding the right to vote. It’s fascinating to see how people pick up different aspects of a story and bring their creativity to a real historical event.
My friend KJ Dell’Antonia’s novel, The Chicken Sisters, was supposed to come out this summer, but experienced a Covid delay. It will be out December 1st, and if you’re looking for a fun tale of competing chicken restaurants and feuding families, you’ll really enjoy this. Think of it as a snow read rather than a beach read now.
Photo: Christmas Lego set (I think 2018’s; I bought it off eBay), finished a month early this year.