Thanksgiving was not a holiday in my childhood. It was the day mom declared she did not cook, everyone fended for themselves, after watching the parade on TV. It was her declaration of Canadian-ness, since that was not a holiday she grew up with, even the Canadian version. She cooked big meals with family over for Easter, Christmas, New Year, birthdays, even Mother's Day when we didn't spend it on the road visiting both grandmothers. Thanksgiving held no official place in the Catholic calendar, either. This was always fine with me, it was usually a mellow day. Even on the occasions when we braved the cold to see the parade in person, with cocoa in a thermos, and came home to warm up and nap. And not have to spend any of that time on hard pews.
Twenty years ago, I spent the holiday with friends, knowing I was being shipped off to Gulf War I a few days later. There is the time before then, and my life since then
, neatly bisected, if not evenly. The best bits have all been since then. Because every day since has been with D. And I'll take the hardest moments with him over any good moments without him. And every Thanksgiving since has been with him, and his family.
For the last twenty years, D and I have been together, the odd day when out of town we at least spoke to each other. The actual anniversary we count as the Friday after Thanksgiving. That year, 1990, we got home in May, moved in together the next year in July '92. Thanksgiving of '93, D's parents still not happy that we'd deferred a wedding, not at all getting that we felt perfectly happy with being common-law married.
So, that Thanksgiving Day, in their living room, D's dad looked at us and said, "Ten minutes in the bishop's office, make us happy." And then, the clincher, "We'll pay for the license." D looks at me and says, "What do you think?" Since I'd already proposed to him the week we moved in together, and he was in no way ready, I was not going to take a proposal from his father. So I dragged him off to the den in his parent's basement, and we talked about marriage, and weddings, and he actually knelt in front of me, and we agreed this was a good idea. I wanted to be sure he wanted this, for himself, no pressure, a chance for him to hold at 'no,' or at least, 'not yet.' He assured me that he did want to marry me, as long as it wasn't going to be A Wedding!
Not having to worry about the cost of the license helped. I already had a plane ticket to visit my parents right after finals, so we decided on the day before, December 15. (For many years we struggled to remember that date.) We got the license, D got his suit pressed, I had my blue dress ready.
Coming off finals and the flu, still ill and feverish, we drove to his parent's house.
D's parents made his three brothers at home put on ties and sit on the couch, D's mum made an angel food cake and had balloons. We gave our formal vows, already having lived by the ones we found most meaningful for three years before, and signed the legal papers. The LDS bishop said magic words over us, off the cuff, as per. Including a lot of stuff about being faithful to each other, which confused me, and had D wanting to say "Buddy, you got something to say, just say it, or we can take this outside!" The bishop also kept trying to get us to face the family, with his back to them, rather than all of us with our sides to the sofa. He failed. We were back home within two hours.
Our friend Dusty told us, "Congratulations on your capitulation!" We took it as the perfect response. I went back to class in January and told people we'd gotten married, which shocked, I'm still not clear why. Our friends who were a bit hurt at not being invited ("No one was invited...") brought forth our apologies. We resolved to have a reception for friends when we could afford it. Three years later, we did.
This is the wedding I think of as perfect, nonpareil, a paragon to compare against all other weddings. Because I felt no qualm, not a moment's hesitation, at vowing to spend my life beside this lovely human being. I knew what wrong felt like, this was everything else.
Last night, D turned to me and says, "In two weeks, we will be at 20 years!" This feels very good indeed, textured, nuanced, joyous. We could not call any part of our relationship "rocky." The rough spots
have pretty much been external, or directly attributable to D's ADD, and my behaviour exacerbating the symptoms. We just get on, always have. We pour our hearts
into our lives together, and both feel beloved. Astonishing to both of us that we've done so well, created such peace together.
A whole holiday to express the overwhelming gratitude at finding each other. And the bottomless well of gratitude to each other.
I'll be making cranberry sauce to bring there this year, my usual.
Labels: D, holiday, love story