We will be divorced by Thanksgiving.
….That wasn’t the answer anyone was expecting. I could tell by the way they squirmed uncomfortably in their seats upon hearing my response, how unbearable it became to maintain eye contact after such candidness.
They had asked what we were doing for Thanksgiving this year, and it was obvious to me that it didn’t matter –
If we were still living in New York City by Thanksgiving, our marriage didn’t have a chance.
Life in New York City meant demanding schedules, late nights, and season after season of poor excuses as to why this term would be “unusually busier” than the last… and the last… and the LAST! … Each time at the cost of my little family that was already trying desperately to catch our breath. But then I learned a lesson about sticky fingers that changed everything:
It was during that same time in NYC when my toddler was running rampant in our apartment, getting her sticky – fruit snack and dried apple juice – laden little fingers on everything she could get her hands on. In her destruction she snatched spatulas, earrings (one of them of course!) and nail clippers. She abducted green onions from the counter, books that had been left on the nightstand, and one time even, a stick of butter.
When I was just about at the end of my rope, I remember complaining to my mom and giving giving her excuse after excuse as to why I was merely helpless at the hands of her brutality, and this was her response,
“ You’ll see… One day she will get her hands on something of such value, you will realize if it’s important enough to you, you will find a better hiding place for it.”
Her words rang true when just days later, I found the little terror standing front-and-center at her Dora Kitchen making a mirepoix of her loot of mismatched socks, q-tips, the tv remote and (wait for it…) MY WEDDING RING!!!
Horrified, I quickly snatched the band from her possession, “OH NO YOU DIDNT!!! Listen up chick, You can have my spatula, my earrings and my books, but THIS is where I draw the line!!!!”
I continued to sputter off accusations until they went far beyond what her 3 year old mind could comprehend. And as I held that ring in my hand and all that it symbolized, I realized what I was saying was true for more than just the sticky fingers of that of my toddler…
It was true for the demands of New York, for the 60+ hour work weeks that greedily demanded more and MORE from my family and fiercely sucked the life and delight out of my marriage like a vacuum! That day I decided, with Dora as my witness, Enough was ENOUGH!
Because my mom was right,
“If something is valuable enough to you, you will protect it AT ALL COSTS.”
… That oftentimes what we value will demand it!
One thing is certain: Had we not learned that when we did, I have no doubt we would be divorced by Thanksgiving.
Thankfully though that will not be case. On the contrary, we are in the process of rebuilding, often painstakingly brick – by – brick, but rebuilding nonetheless. And yet it has taken our time in New York – and more importantly, LEAVING New York – for us to learn what we value most is our FAMILY, and that we must protect it accordingly.
You see, this Thanksgiving each of us will gather with family and friends, and express gratitude for all that is most dear to us. But realize:
While Thanksgiving is about publicly declaring what we are most grateful for, the other 364 days of the year are about protecting it. Relentlessly!
… to protect it from the stickiest fingers both in the maddening toddler form, and in the ruthless demands of every day life!
For us that meant trading the bright lights and excitement of the city, for the breathtaking sunsets, and the downright ordinary of the South.
It took a pay cut, an ego check, and it took smacking the greedy hands of the business world to proclaim that our family was UNTOUCHABLE, and that no amount of money could ever be offered in return for missed holidays and the simple pleasures of tucking your children into bed at night.
And now, if I may, a word to the Sticky Fingers of this world:
Listen closely. There is a standing reservation in our home for dinner each night between 6-7. You are more than welcome to come, but what you are NOT welcomed to do is make my family the sacrificial lamb on behalf of your most pressing deadlines or staggering seasons (And as a rule, the closer you push dinner to 7 the more likely you will be required to bring a bottle of wine!)
…Why? Because FAMILY is what we value. FAMILY is what we will go to great lengths to protect. Relentlessly!
And given the chance that slips your mind, or worse, that you get your sticky fingers on my wedding ring and all that it symbolizes, mark my words: I will cut you.
On that note, Happy Thanksgiving friends!
May we vigorously protect what we are most thankful for, today and always!