Dear Jack: Your Thanksgiving Lizard

8 years.

Dear Jack,

When I think back on what seemed to make you the happiest over our family’s extended Thanksgiving weekend at Nonna and Papa’s house in Alabama, I would definitely have to say it was when you caught a lizard in a pile of leaves in the back yard.

You loved him so much, that it made leaving quite difficult.

First, Mommy and I had to explain to you how unlikely he would stay alive if we took him back home to Tennessee.

Then we explained to you that he couldn’t simply live as a captive pet in the garage either. It was very sad for you to have to say goodbye.

Yet still, he brought you a lot of joy- and that’s what matters more.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Holly: Your Thanksgiving American Standard Toilet Box

2 years, 7 months.

Dear Holly,

I assisted Papa in installing two new toilets at his house while we stayed there for Thanksgiving:

One upstairs and one downstairs.

By the time the one upstairs was finished, I came back down to see that Nonna had cut out a hole for you to stand through.

If only we had unboxed the toilets at the beginning of the holiday weekend… now I wish we had.

That’s because the toilet box made the perfect little house for you.

Not only could you peek out of the top, but you also were able to pretend to sleep inside of it.

To think- not just a box…

but a toilet box!

Love,

Daddy

 

Father and Son Road Trip to Target to Buy Board Games for Thanksgiving in a 2019 Chevy Traverse

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, my wife suggested we pick up the classic board game Monopoly for when we visit my side of the family in Alabama. That gave me the green light to carry out my own related agenda: to also buy the classic game Crossfire, from my own childhood.

Speaking of agendas, my son had one of his own, as well. He still had a few bucks leftover from his birthday, on a gift card to Target that he was eager to spend.

So he and I hopped in the 2019 Chevy Traverse that our family still has from our trip to Destin, FL. (More on that in the days to come…) Exactly 3.8 miles later, we had arrived.

I couldn’t have known this, but it just so happened that Target had just started a special 20% sale on family board games.

I feel really good about this. My wife’s idea was spot on.

Classic board games are a great way to unplug for the holidays while the family is together.

It’s easy to forget how great it is to break out some board games after the meal and have some mandatory fun.

My son ended going with a Squish-Dee-Lish. It’s funny how big he is into those “don’t know what you’ve got until you’ve opened it” toys.

I think it ended up being a sleep-deprived alien jet pilot?

Once we got home, I admit it took my longer than it should have to assemble Crossfire while my wife finished preparing dinner.

To my surprise, my daughter actually seemed more into the game than my son.

Good call, though. Stock up on board games for Thanksgiving, especially while they’re on sale this week at Target!

Dear Jack: Carving the Halloween Jack-o’-lantern for the Thanksgiving/Hike at DeSoto Falls with Uncle Joe and Aunt Rebecca

7 years.

Dear Jack,

After having ventured to Gentry’s Farm to get our family’s pumpkin to carve for Halloween, we just didn’t get around to actually carving it in time. So we took it to Nonna and Papa’s nearly a month after Halloween… for the wrong holiday.

Papa then built a bonfire in the backyard to extend the feeling of pumpkin carving season.

Since your Uncle Joe and Aunt Rebecca were visiting from Pensacola, we also spent part of Thanksgiving break to introduce them to DeSoto Falls; not that far from where I grew up.

I’m fortunate to be from such a cool outdoorsy town (Fort Payne, Alabama), as it is not the average hometown to spend the holidays in. I was very proud to be able to entertain your aunt and uncle by showing them the giant waterfall up on the mountain.

It’s especially neat because we were able to get pretty close to the water, but kept from certain danger thanks to some guard rails.

While we were enjoying the views, we looked up and saw a few drones flying above us. I imagine it must be an awesome place to fly one around; as long as it doesn’t get caught in the rapids.

I have to assume in a just a few years, you’ll be asking for a drone for your birthday or Christmas, as compared to just Pokemon cards like you are currently obsessed with.

Turns out, your Uncle Joe and Aunt Rebecca enjoyed their Thanksgiving visit so much, they decided to drive back up from Florida again for Christmas- and this time they are bringing their teenage daughter who you enjoyed spending time with at Uncle Jake’s wedding in San Diego last year.

Whatever we all end up doing during our 5 days in Alabama for Christmas, I know we’re all going to have a great time!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Bear Hugs with Papa at Thanksgiving

1 year, 7 months.

Dear Holly,

In the midst of the four days we spent at Nonna and Papa’s house in Alabama for Thanksgiving, one afternoon you decided to just lay low with Papa on the couch.

You had discovered the giant D.A.R.E. teddy bear wearing a Domino’s Pizza uniform. (Your Aunt Dana won it back in the early 1990s when she was the winner of a coloring contest.)

The bear hugs started with Papa pretending the bear was attacking you, but it didn’t take long before the look on your face gave it away: You were almost tired enough to take a nap.

So after one of the many times the bear jumped on top of you, smashing you in between Papa and the bear, you decided just to take advantage of the situation by cuddling up to both of them.

I actually started wondering if at some point you would just fall asleep, resting your little head on the giant bear’s shoulder. For anyone walking by you in the living room, there was an unspoken level of respect:

Just let Holly hang out with Papa and the bear.

Had this all happened a little earlier in the day, it could have been a 20 minute wrestling match with the bear; making its way all the way to the floor.

But no.

Your vibes attract your tribe. Therefore, you defeated the giant bear though cuddles alone.

Sometimes the best way to win a fight is with a big hug.

The bear was no match for your sweetness.

And not only did you win the fight against the bear, but you also won the fight against giving me a reason to take you upstairs for your afternoon nap.

Enough chill time was had with Papa and the bear, so I just let serve as your 2nd nap that day.

Love,

Daddy

 

Dear Jack: Our Hike at Little River Canyon with Uncle Joe and Aunt Rebecca

7 years.

Dear Jack,

This Thanksgiving was extra special because your Uncle Joe (one of Mommy’s 7 brothers) and Aunt Rebecca drove up from Pensacola, Florida to spend the holiday weekend with us; even though they knew there would be no turkey at our vegan Thanksgiving feast…

They must have really wanted to visit us!

We made sure to show them a good time; Northern Alabama style! That means participating in mandatory fun by hiking some of the many awesome trails that I grew up near.

Just 5 miles from Nonna and Papa’s house, where lived during my high school years, is the epic Little River Canyon.

We started out my taking an up-close look at the waterfall, by standing on the deck. But you weren’t too impressed. You were ready to hike the trail that traverses along the side of the mountain, making its way down to the river.

Amazingly, this is a trail that I had never hiked once, in all my years of growing up in Fort Payne, Alabama. Somehow I never knew about this one.

As we started hiking it and I realized not only how beautiful it is, but also how challenging, it made me wish I had known about it much sooner; like in high school.

I will admit, the hike was much more challenging that I had anticipated, but we all safely made our way down to the river… and back up!

It was so cool once we got to the water; like showing up in the middle of a white water rapids course. When I think of Alabama, this is the kind of thing I think of.

I grew up on a mountain with a river running through it. This is what I think of when I think of growing up in Alabama. These trails are just a well kept secret.

It was so cool that your Uncle Joe and Aunt Rebecca drove all the way up to see us for Thanksgiving. Had they not been there, I’m not sure we would have embarked on such a special trail.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: I Experience Guilt for Not Being Able to Spend as Much Time with You Right Now

6 years.

Dear Jack: I Experience Guilt for Not Being Able to Spend as Much Time with You Right Now

Dear Jack,

Once we got back from our Thanksgiving trip to Nonna and Papa’s in Alabama, as we were walking through the front door of our house, I put my arm around your shoulder and said, “You did so good on the trip. I am really proud of you.”

As I was saying those words, it’s like it hit me all at once: You were so independent. You didn’t really need me for much the whole time. I didn’t have to worry about you.

Though I was in the same house as you, and often the same room, you and I were interacting with other family members instead of each other; compared to the norm.

So you and I didn’t really have much quality time together, though we did with other members of the family who we don’t see as often.

We did the right thing. After all, the holidays is for catching up with people you don’t see as often.

Yet, I suppose I still somehow experienced some guilt over it. Because as we settled back in after Thanksgiving, I realized how much of my time is required by your sister Holly.

For me to be a good husband and good parent, I have to be holding a baby most of the time we are all together at the house. While I am proud to take care of your sister, I recognize that the days of you and I just being able to hang out anytime are sort of on hold for right now.

Before your sister was born, we could just easily run upstairs and watch a stupid movie together or go outside for a hike.

But these days, my mobility is greatly restricted by me taking care of your sister while Mommy concentrates on the majority of the housework; like cooking and laundry.

I miss our time together. Things will eventually get back closer to how they were before. But honestly, I think it will be another 5 months or so, when your sister turns a year old.

You’re such a good kid. I don’t want to miss out on truly living every minute I can with you.

Love,

Daddy