New Stage of Life = New Paths to Chart

I don’t know if the stage is actually a new one or not. We’ve actually been empty nesters for quite a few years. I have already quit cooking – the husband gets home from work at unpredictable times, but most assuredly late. I take that back. I maybe cook an average of one meal a week but since I haven’t learned how to proportion down the ingredients, we eat that meal all week. Lunch. Dinner. Lunch. Dinner. Good thing Alan doesn’t balk at leftovers!

This year, though, a strange wind blew through our lives and messed us up a bit. Even years of Thanksgiving are our family’s off-year anyway but this is the FIRST year Alan and I have been absolutely 100% ALONE! It has been so weird for me to comprehend and accept. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve known I was lucky this day hadn’t already come and I knew {like how you wait for a snowball to hit you in the back} that this day would still inevitably come.

And it did.

So, after much discussion, we chose a trial pathway through this uncharted territory today. We actually tromped a portion of this path down a couple of years ago not realizing we would intersect it again farther down the road, so to speak. That particular year we had Thanksgiving Dinner with my daughter and her family. After dinner we were all sitting around looking at the newspapers and scouring over the ads.

2011-11-24_5921{I probably need to interject here and explain about a deeply 20151126-thanksgiving-adsingrained Thanksgiving tradition we have in our family. We practically buy stock in the local newspaper publishing companies the morning of Thanksgiving. Of course, we try to coordinate and, if possible, everyone stops on their way to our house and buys the specific newspaper they agreed to bring. We live in a small community with limited newspapers – four (4) to be exact – and two of those four would be a stretch to try shopping from their coverage area. Duplicates are welcomed, however, because everyone does end up looking through them at some point.}

There happened to be an item in the ads that my daughter really wanted for her kids for Christmas {she had two}. Immediately she and I were on the same wave length as we read that the toys – Legos, to be exact – would be on sale that day, Thanksgiving Day, beginning at 6pm. We threw out different scenarios to the men in the room, her husband and mine. The guys could stay home and babysit and we would run to the store and make the purchase. We could all go and the guys could distract the kids while we made the purchase. The women could stay home and babysit while the men went to the store and made the purchase. Basically, we were ignored. No. Not basically. Totally.

Finally, I threw out one last option. Alan and I would run to the store and make the purchase for them. That seemed to rally the men and it was settled. However, it was a little before 5pm and the store was a good 45 minutes away. We hurriedly took off, arriving at the store with about a half hour to spare. We found the Legos, wrapped in shrink-wrap with store personnel guarding the pallets. People were already collected and as we joined the group, and the conversation, it was agreed there were enough Legos for everyone there to get what they wanted and still, possibly have some left over. As we counted down the minutes, the conversation was jovial. People laughed as they described various ways and means and physical maneuvers that may be necessary to make this all happen effectively.

Then the guard over our section moved. Scissors snipped. Shrink wrap fell to the ground. And the claws came out!

For a split second I was in awe trying to realize these were the same people who we were smiling and laughing with a mere scissor snip ago. I’m sure there was blood under the fingernails of many. But Alan and I had our plan. I thought.

My husband has extremely long arms. Monkey arms. The plan we devised would put those monkey arms to good use. I would go low and grab the bottom ones. He would reach over my head and grab what he could reach. In the half hour we had been waiting, I had decided it would be great to have some Legos at my house for the grand kids to play with so we were trying for more than the absolutely necessary quantity of two.

Yeah, well, just like all the laughing and joking faded away, so did Alan. I did my part and when I swung around to put them in the cart that he had been holding onto right next to me, there was nothing there. Panic didn’t set in right away but soon. My eyes went from side to side and there was no Alan. Then I caught sight of him; way back behind all the people with the cart.

I’ve never known him to be frightened by the sight of blood. He isn’t big on confrontation, though, so maybe he sensed that was the direction this whole experience was going and opted for the flight response, leaving me to the dogs. Needless to say, we were only able to get what my daughter had wanted. And that was just okay.

We tried wandering around, looking for other things we hadn’t had time to look for before all hell broke loose but my space hula hoop got invaded upon one too any times and my escape routes got blocked just enough that I had to call it DONE.

That was our first big experience down this path. As we debated what to fill our day with this year, that path was brought up as an option. Since we had already decided we were going out to a restaurant for dinner, it only seemed logical that we go all the way and hit the BIG BOX store again. We were so much better prepared this time! We had a couple of hours to figure things out and understand how it was going to work. This year I would get Legos for Grandma’s house. When I found them, the system was different and they were giving out wristbands to guarantee you got one (1) of the item for which the wristband was assigned. Well, I wanted two. My brain, in all its slow motion processing, tried to figure out how to get two boxes.

Then I remembered! Alan was with me! I’d lost him as soon as we walked in the store, which happens more times than not. If you take my phone and look at the messages between my husband and myself, the majority will be, “Where are you?”; “Have you checked out yet?”; “Where did you go?” or “Where should I meet you?”

Frantically, I started walking as I called Alan. There were other people getting wristbands while I was wasting precious time. I found him about the time he answered his phone and I explained the situation. “You need to go to Aisle 14 and get a wristband like this {I held up my wrist}!” “Okay.” And he continued to read the labels on additives for his ailing truck.

“Like right now! You need to go to Aisle 14 and get a wristband like this {again I held up my wrist}!” “Now? Oh.” He put the item he was reading in the basket, which I quickly took command of, and began walking towards Aisle 14. I was a bit concerned now that I’d been a little too forceful. That last look on his face as he headed off reminded me of our wedding day when he was so nervous he gave himself a stomach ache. I feared I’d sent him into an Adrenalin overload and this might go south quickly. Diving into aisles to avoid collisions, I tried to keep sight of him and make sure he didn’t get side tracked and especially that he made it past the “RESTROOM” sign. A secluded corner made the perfect spot to wait for my partner in crime to return. And he did. And he 2016-11-24-17-01-33held up his wrist so I could see the matching wristband. Our fist victory.

It’s been an amusing journey on this path today. Towards the end was a bit scary as I got crowded out a few times, backed into several times and lost sight of my escape paths multiple times. Alan was across a crowded aisle as we waited for the magical hour to grab one more thing, trade out our wristbands and leave. There were multiple times I was sure, between my allergy to so many people and my claustrophobia, that I was going to either pass out or go rabid. I kept glancing at Alan hoping he would see I was having a hard time holding it together. Alas, his head was down as he scrolled through various “Happy Thanksgiving” texts and posts on his phone.2016-11-24-alan-thanksgiving

When all was said and done, he let me know he really did care and had been paying attention to me by saying, “You weren’t on the floor in the fetal position so I assumed you were handling it okay.” After 40 years, he still knows what to say to convey his love.

And now we’re home. And I’m facing the reality that this same scenario may replay itself in two years assuming this particular stage of our lives looks the same. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see if we choose this same path we’ve tromped a few times now or if we choose to chart a new path. It was nice not having any dirty dishes to clean up but now I’m eating Cheetos because we have no leftovers. {heavy sigh}

On that note, it’s been a great Thanksgiving Day for me. Even though we were alone for Thanksgiving, I’m glad there is a “we”. I’m grateful all my kids are loved by multiple families and they all had places to go. I’m ever so thankful for my beliefs and the knowledge of a Heavenly Father in charge of all of this ‘stuff’. I’m grateful for the easiness of my path and equally grateful when it curves into a rocky path; grateful for the well times as well as the aches and pains that remind me this body is a temporary part of me. Hills and descents – both are muscle builders. Friends that support me, build me up, notice when I’m off and have my back are a huge percentage of all I have to be grateful for, too. And, last but not least, new stages in life with the opportunity of charting new paths.


{Just for the record, I love to Black Friday shop – just to watch people. The last few years retailers have stepped up their game and started opening on Thanksgiving Day. I know there is a lot of controversy about shopping on Thanksgiving Day. I will NEVER leave my house full of family and go shopping on Thanksgiving Day. I will NEVER load them all up and go shopping on Thanksgiving Day. If I am in my home, surrounded by my family, I plan on enjoying the spirit of their company. The tradition of spreading the ads all over the house will continue. We will laugh and joke about what we would get if we had all the money we wanted. We will break out the pens and circle abundantly and let the little ones cut out the pictures and put them in envelopes. All the kids {young and old} will continue to learn what it’s like to wish for something even though you may never get it. And, at the end of the day, the turkey carcass in the garbage can will be buried by all the crumpled papers.}

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One thought on “New Stage of Life = New Paths to Chart

  1. I don’t shop on that day or the black (next) day. It is just easier to stay home. Enjoyed the read. You are so talented. It was fun to read the story behind the picture of Alan on his cell phone.

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