Tuesday, November 21, 2017

An addition to What to Expect, please


What to Expect When You’re Expecting rocked the publishing world when it hit the market in 1986. Since then, expectant moms everywhere have poured over its pages, soaking up info on how big the baby is (It’s the size of a lentil! And now it’s the size of a lime!), what to eat for optimal baby baking, what to ask the doctor and a zillion other things I know I read but after nearly 18 years, can't remember.
Author Heidi Murkoff built an empire off that publication. There are 12 other What to Expect books, like What to Expect: The First Year, The Second Year, The Toddler Years, not to mention What to Expect at Preschool and a babysitter handbook.

But after 30 years, the What to Expect books have only covered about 5 years of a child’s life. Kids typically live with parents a lot longer than that. And while there are tons of other topics to cover after year 5, I would like to suggest an addition that is hitting close to home today – What to Expect When Your Adult Child Won’t Be Home for the Holidays.
By the time you read this, our oldest will be winging his way to a Caribbean island where he is scheduled to teach several classes for work. He will be there all week, missing Thanksgiving.

(Who schedules training over Thanksgiving week?! Turns out this training session is for Canadian members of Michael’s company. Since this is not Thanksgiving for Canadians, it’s a great time to schedule a business trip for them and it only impacts a few Americans.)

When Michael first told us of his trip, I was surprised. Fine, shocked. Okay, I cried. Whatever. I mean, this will be the first major holiday the Duffy Five have not all been together. Sure, since the two oldest left for college there have been missed birthdays and other lesser holidays. But this is the first big one we won’t all be together.

After a few minutes of my own private pity party, I pulled on my big girl pants and said, “This is the first of many holidays we won’t all be together. This is yet another new normal. I will not simply make the best of it. I will have fun with whoever is here, dadgumit!”

We’ll still do our normal Thanksgiving Day traditions: we’ll watch the parade while eating sausage balls. We’ll decorate for Christmas. And to mark this new time in our lives, I decided to add a new tradition: we’ll go to Chicago and see the Christkindlmarket and all the Christmas decorations.

The five Duffys will eat turkey together after church on Sunday so everyone still gets their fill of sweet potato casserole and my mother-in-law’s pear/Jell-O salad that I have, after 25 years, finally perfected. We’ll tell Michael about our time in Chicago and hear about his Caribbean adventures. And it won’t matter one little bit that all of it happens on Sunday and not Thursday.

Now that I’ve had time to process the situation, here’s what I’d say, given the chance to write What to Expect When Your Adult Child Won’t Be Home for the Holidays: don’t make an idol out of the date. Be flexible. Be willing to change up traditions. Hold things loosely.

With all the impending changes in our lives, I think I’m going to be reciting those thoughts to myself quite a bit in the very near future.

Ms. Murkoff, if you need any help with my suggested book, let me know. And Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, no matter when you celebrate!