The Really New Normal…

A few nights ago, while I was roaming around the house cleaning up after Britney the Wonder Cat, I caught a few minutes of “The New Normal” on NBC. I’d heard of the show but never really paid attention but you know how it is when you’re in the mood to do one thing and you catch a glimpse of something else: You get distracted. Or at least I do.

I sat down for a couple of minutes because Ellen Barkin arrived on camera and I love Ellen Barkin. What I saw was a show about a cute gay couple and their extended family. So NBC, you know?

What really struck me was that this IS the new normal. For over 20 years I’ve worked to create a family where I didn’t have one, which is just what the two main characters were doing. Maybe I wasn’t trying to create something on purpose, but create something I did. And now, 20 years after the start of my great experiment, I have found that family really is what you make it. Or maybe ‘who’ you make it is more appropriate.

This Thanksgiving was a little different.

The last couple of years A has gone to her friend’s house in Pennsylvania. That’s our new normal. A goes to a friend’s for turkey day and I stay home and goof off. Maybe I make a nice dinner, but usually I clean up, put on a TV marathon, when the TV gods decide to gift me with something good like Star Trek or the Twilight Zone and I relax. Years ago, when I was married, I rushed to a multitude of houses and smiled and ate whole meals because it was expected. That was my normal. Then, I’d come home and “The Runner” would watch TV while I read then, particularly in our last years together, I’d curl up on the couch for the night and he’d go to sleep in the bedroom. I had a really good ‘excuse’ – I’d say I had to get up early to go Black Friday shopping for both of our families and so it made sense to sleep on the couch. Now, I sleep in my own bed and somehow still manage to get up on time for Black Friday.

But back to this year – A is home and we made a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Traditional if you’re Puerto Rican, black and white, which she is. Now we’re both stuffed. We played records, even an Elvis or two showed up on the record player as did Adele and the Black Keys, and we enjoyed each others company like we always do. This is not really our new normal, even though it is.

Many of my friends have big days happening today – hosting events – traveling to places – enjoying their loved ones. Others are hiding out. To be honest, I didn’t know they were hiding out until they told me they always hide out on holidays. I think that sucks, but it’s their normal so what can I say?

If you had asked me a few years ago what I imaged for holidays, I would have said a huge spread with lots of people over having a good time. Now? I can’t imagine sharing it with anyone but A mainly because we both seem to know that 20 years from now, we’ll still be together. Or at least that’s our hope.

When A’s dad and I divorced almost 16 years ago, I had no idea how to deal with the holidays so I hid out and let A go to her grammy’s. I didn’t know that a new normal was okay – in fact, it was more than okay.  I’m thankful that this year what’s normal is perfect. Next year’s normal will be perfect, too. Even if it doesn’t look the same.

Happy Thanksgiving – I hope everyone’s normal is the most awesome normal imaginable. And, if you have a new normal, when did you first learn to enjoy it?

**The pic? My first instagram photo. These are the roses on our table right now. All of them are white except for one rebellious pink rose. We like her the best.

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  1. There’s no such thing as “normal”

    I’m glad you two had such a wonderful holiday together..that’s the joy the holidays are supposed to bring after all right ?? :-)

    I haven’t done holidays in awhile and admittedly I’m starting to miss it abit. I eat ALOT lol

    • In that case…consider this your open invite to do any holiday you want here in NYC with me and A. Well, not Arbor Day – we like that to be a small intimate gathering. 😉

  2. This Christmas I have to deal with a new normal. It’s going to be the first Christmas I’m not at home on Christmas day.
    Nobody will be home then. My dad is going off to Mexico, my younger sis is staying in Toronto, I’ll be in Moncton, while my mom, sis and brother will likely get together at some point in Halifax.

    At first I was upset that everyone wasn’t trying to make time to go home to our hometown. But we’re all getting older now, and J and I will be starting a married life together next year, so maybe it’s time for a new normal for me too.

    • You know, it’s really kind of awesome to be able to create new normals – and you and J will have so many new things that are part of your ‘regular’ lives once you are married that over time, you won’t even notice the changes – mainly because you’ll be doing them together.

      For me, if I didn’t have A, I would jet off somewhere for Christmas like your dad or maybe I’d stay home – who knows. :)

      The real question is…are you writing through the engagement process :)

      • Was trying to at the beginning. Have some mandatory school writing to do at the moment, but will probably pick up with documenting the wedding planning process when I finish school next week 😀

  3. I always have the big family todo. My new Thanksgiving normal is a house full if kids that aren’t mine. This was even true last year when my boys were with their dad. I think they all come here to chill … Because its calm …. Even when it’s full. This is the first year I am not Black Friday shopping. I am discouraged by the push of the almighty dollar.

    • I’m so sure your house is where I’d want to be to :) What’s this about Black Friday? I can’t do it. I used to love it – it was like a game, but I’m discouraged by how little people pay attention to anything that can’t be rung up. Happy post-Turkey day, Ms. Nay Nay :)

  4. This year was the first year in some years that we haven’t had to hustle for Thanksgiving. Know why? Our family ignored us. I dunno if something’s going on, I think some people are sick, something. I don’t know. The last few years have been fraught and we haven’t been close, and now we’re apparently at a place where, if someone’s sick or something else is wrong, text messages and voicemails go unanswered for a month.

    But despite this, there’s been the keeping-up-appearances. My family-in-law is very concerned with appearances. Even last year, when mom was a month post-major surgery, and I was three weeks out of deciding whether to die or not, it was still expected that we’d show up to thanksgiving dinner, and by god there’d have been hell to pay if we hadn’t. (And was anyway, but there it is.)

    This year I went to school. School is the new normal for me. And I’d pick class over just about any holiday. If there were still a country in the world that didn’t celebrate Christmas, I’d go to school there and work all through the break.

    Curt was saying just the other day that he’s too old for Christmas now. I argued with him, of course, because how can you not argue with that? But I’m thinking I might hide out with him. Go away to Tibet or Afghanistan or- you’ve traveled more than I have, where do they ignore Christmas? :)

    So I don’t exactly enjoy the new normal, per se. But thanks to you, I have hope that I can learn to.

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