Home for the Holidays

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Beep. Beep Beep. Beep. Beep Beep.

I smack the off button on the alarm clock that displays 9:15 a.m. As my feet reach for the frigid floor, I nearly jump back into my warm flannel sheets. Reaching for my sweatshirt, it hits me. The excitement of Thanksgiving morning. Within the next few hours, three dozen family members will march into my front door where a feast will be waiting.

Lugging my half sleeping body down the stairs, I brace myself for the hustle of last minute preparations that should be underway downstairs. The aroma of turkey and freshly baked pecan pie fills the air. But where is the noise and movement? The chatter of my mom and clink of the good china is missing. Instead, I find my Nanny Peg sitting on the couch listening to the news on the television. Immediately I come to a conclusion, mom burnt the food and her sister is here to help save it. After talking with my nanny, I wish a scorched turkey would have been the reason for her arrival.

The night before, I had rushed to answer the ringing house phone. “I’ll get it!” I called out through the house. Despite my high hopes, it was not one of my friends, just my dad. Passing the phone onto my mother, I had lingered in the doorway in an attempt to hear the reason for his call. It was a Wednesday night, motorcycle night, and for my accountant, suit-and-tie wearing father; it was his night out with the guys. Stepping into the hallway, my mother’s voice called me back, “Steph, go grab the Yellow Pages for me.” Usually, I would have griped about the long trip downstairs to retrieve a book that was half my size, but curiosity caused me to silently accept her request. “Dad just has a flat tire and needs a tow truck to bring his bike back to the house,” my mom had explained as I returned with the book. Soon I was flipping through pages, assisting my mom while she dialed nearly every towing company in the area. Halfway down the list of companies, a man finally agreed to pick up my dad.

For the rest of the night, I sat on the couch waiting for the tow truck’s arrival. With the excitement of finding a truck gone, my eyes started to droop and my head would occasionally nod off to the side. I must have walked upstairs when I was half asleep; the next morning I awoke to the sound of my alarm.

My eyes still droop with exhaustion from my late night as my aunt explains the absence of my parents. She starts by stating that my dad failed to mention one minor detail to my mother the previous night. My father flew off of his motorcycle as a result of the flat tire. He and my mother were at the hospital. My heart sank. My head filled with questions and concerns. Nanny Peg continued to explain that my dad had been suffering from pain in his chest. An ambulance was called during the night to bring my suffering, stubborn father and worried mother to the hospital. After tests had been run, doctors discovered that my dad had a broken rib bone. Not just any rib, a rib that was particularly close to a major artery. With the recommendation of doctors and the order of my dad’s sister, a nurse, my dad would have to spend Thanksgiving in the hospital.

My ten year old mindset which believed that my parents would always be healthy shattered that Thanksgiving morning. The toughest, wisest, most dependable man that I knew could not be in the hospital on Thanksgiving Day. The thought that I could lose the man I admired most terrified me in a way I had never felt before. Reality hit me so hard that it took the air out of my lungs.

The front door creaks as my mom returns shortly before guests start to arrive, Thanksgiving would continue. Throughout the day, thoughts of my dad preoccupy my mind, even as I fill my plate with the feast my mom and aunts have prepared. As I enjoy my turkey and stuffing, my dad must dine on the hospital’s pork chop dinner. I wrap a small taste of our family’s feast, a piece of pecan pie to send with my mom when she returns to the hospital.

Much to my excitement, my dad returns home the next day. As the car pulls into the driveway, I feel my heart bursting from joy. The moment I see my father, there is doubt in my mind that a healthy family is now at the top of my Christmas list. My dad walks tenderly towards me; I rush to welcome him back. Though I wish I could greet him with a huge hug, I settle for a kiss on the cheek instead.





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