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.