The Day Before Thanksgiving

It was my half-day at work, my aunts’ as well, and we made plans for lunch. My morning was efficient and as the latest Five for Fighting album crooned from my headphones and the sun poured in, I put all thoughts of holidays from my mind and enjoyed the moment.

After lunch, I went back to my aunts’ home where I “helped” Debbie by making a salad and Brenda by cleaning a small area in the kitchen. I joked with Brenda during the drive to our lunchtime stop that this truly was a Paske holiday—I was driving Brenda because Debbie was picking up painkillers, and she was hopeful Debbie would be delayed so we could have a few beers while we waited. That’s the way we do it in our family—we screw with our minds and then sharpen knives. They didn’t task me out too much, and I’m sure to a serious chef such as my dear Debbie, I seem fairly inefficient—the neat freak shall lie down with the cook?—but I didn’t leave a mess to be cleaned.

I was feeling sluggish, but guilty they didn’t give me more to do…and as a sweet gesture of unnecessary thanks (what is family for?) Brenda took me to get my nails done. Jack, the man who did my nails spoke in a heavy—well, I can’t 100% place the accent…a sort of Asian-Latin hybrid—and I could barely understand a word he said.

At first he thought I was my aunt’s daughter, which she vehemently denied. Then he thought I was a kid, asking which high school I attend. After he learned I was older than all that, he asked if I had a baby. I shook my head firmly. “You look tire. Like you have baby.” Meanwhile, Brenda got a pedicure and Jack complimented my looks. I think. Heavy accent, remember? Being a smart ass, I replied to him that that’s why I look tired…that it isn’t easy looking so good all of the time.

Brenda yelled from across the salon, “You’ve got that right!” and expelled a breath through pursed lips as if nothing causes greater weariness than her comely face. I leaned closer to Jack, even though I wasn’t certain he could understand what I was saying, and told him that it was a family trait—the attitude. I have the best time with Brenda!

I drove home, stopping for a car wash in De Forest on my way out of town…the new car will be seen by my brother today for the first time, and I want it to look all shiny and flirtatious, just as it was the day it gave me that come hither stare at the lot. Got home, looked in the mirror, and thought, “I really do look tired.” Opened the mail, decided I’m sick of getting correspondence from both Dean Care and UW Hospital and Clinics.

All pretty humdrum. Then, I started getting this itch, this desire to be anywhere but here. I decided to go out and buy the new album from Chris Daughtry, It’s Not Over, with my Border’s Rewards© points. I picked up dinner for Nick who had a not so great day and headed home, instinctively turning my radio on as I left the parking lot.

Shortly after, I turned it off…the music didn’t feel right. And as I passed the first display of Christmas lights, the tears fell, and I spoke aloud to my empty car wishing her back, wished myself gone, wished it all different…wished the holidays could just not come this year. It was such an ordinary day…I don’t understand where it all came from…perhaps I stayed just busy enough to not notice the heaviness of my heart.

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