For the first time in a very long time, the girls are going to the Ex’s house, in the middle of the country, for Thanksgiving. Technically, we alternate years. In even years, I get Christmas, and he gets Thanksgiving. Opposite for the odd years. But Thanksgiving plane tickets are very expensive, especially if you forget to make reservations until November 10th, or something like that. So for the past few years that it was his turn for Thanksgiving, he had to forgo the visit.
This year, however, I prompted the ticket-purchase in August (!!), and we got reasonably-priced tickets. I was pleased, because I was anticipating a wee battle over hte holidays, and if he had to skip the Thanksgiving visit, I think conditions would be ripe for strife.
See, last year it was his year for Christmas. But he went and got his new wife knocked up, and she was due on Christmas Eve or something crazy like that. So they decided they shouldn’t have the girls for that holiday. He was afraid she’d go into labor while he was at the airport picking up the girls.
At one point, he started to make noise about how he should get this Christmas instead. Because it’s totally my fault that he had another kid.
I usually don’t mind being flexible, but with the holiday schedule, flexibility runs away from my inner self.
Long ago, my sister got divorced. It was after I got divorced. She has a son, and I have 2 daughters. We put our heads together and got very clever — we made it so HER divorce agreement matched MY divorce agreement, so we wouldn’t have to fight to have family gatherings with all the kids in one place.
Turns out, the family gatherings really don’t happen all that often. She lives on one coast, I live on the other. But still. If she DID come, we’d both have our kids.
So I didn’t want to give him this Christmas to make up for last Christmas. I actually did give him both spring breaks last year to make up for that time (okay, so the reason for that was because of my trial that was scheduled for February, the week after their break week, and then got unscheduled for February, and was maybe going to happen during their break-week in April … but then it didn’t happen then, either …)
So yay! Thanksgiving! No fights about Christmas.
I was happy for a while.
Then I remembered – crap. I HATE Thanksgiving without the girls.
WD and I have tried a few different things on the major holidays that we haven’t had the kids. Once, we rented a bajillion movies and stayed in bed all day with junk food, movies, and eventually take out Thai.
Sounds great, right?
No, it sucked. I was depressed.
We’ve also cooked for the two of us. And we’ve gone to my parents’ house.
I guess the Christmas where we cooked, just the two of us, and made cocktails, that went okay.
But ya wanna know what sounded even BETTER?
Before I went to law school, WD and I always used to take the girls’ trips away as an opportunity to travel. Even if it was just to go camping. And we had a great time. But law school made it so that whenever the girls went away, I caught up with studying.
And since then – this is kinda odd, when you look at the numbers – money has always been an issue.
The only time I remember he and I getting away alone together since law school started is the post-bar exam trip to Europe. Before law school, when I was making a fraction of what I’m making now, we went to Portland, OR, Disneyland, camping in 3 different locations (all in California), Arcata, CA, and New Orleans. Since I started law school? Just one trip.
Weird. I feel like I must be forgetting something.
So I decided this is going to be the time that we go away. And What I really wanted to do was leave the country. So it’s not Thanksgiving.
We spent months exploring plane tickets and possibilities. I said “let’s do Montreal.” We were supposed to do that in the summer, but the Ex’s summer plans conflicted, and so the girls didn’t go to his house when we were able to get away, and so we didn’t get to go. But we had a great week with the girls. So I’m not [really] complaining.
He said – Or Vancouver! Or London! Or Dublin! Or Prague! Or Amsterdam!
Unfortunately, heading west wouldn’t work. And many flights to Europe were either (a) too expensive, or (b) too soon after the girls’ departure flight for me to be comfortable.
But then, a couple of weeks ago, there was a dip in ticket prices. It looked like we were going to be able to get to London for $700/each. Wow! We started to plan. WD got books from the library. We solicited recommendations on hotels. Then I *reserved* a hotel! We did everything but buy the tickets. Because I decided to pay cash, rather than put it on a card.
So then pay day came, and I went to buy the tickets, and …. oops!
We were bummed. We gave it a few more days, but things just weren’t budging.
So we started to re-assess. Montreal? Niagara Falls? New Orleans?
Hmm. New Orleans.
This would mean I would be in the country for Thanksgiving, but where else in the country feels so OUTSIDE the country, with such flare and character?
New Orleans was where WD and I went on our first real vacation together. We were there in March of 2002: pre-Katrina, and during the start of the Iraq war. I have very clear memories of walking through antique shops while the UN did its roll call with yays and nays on the war. We stayed in that night, to watch the t.v. coverage.
And the tickets! $400/each! So much kinder to the wallet.
And the hotels! The same $175/night that would have gotten us a cramped B&B in London can get us a suite in New Orleans! A suite!
And the restaurants! Do you know how many menus I looked at with appetizers that were only $6??? $6?? How insane!
[Yes, living in Boston with a decent paycheck as changed me as a person. No longer do I balk at the $12 and $14 appetizer. I now find $18 entrees and $6 appetizers to be CHEAP. At least if at a reputable restaurant.]
And so we did it. We bought the tickets, we booked the hotel, we made the Thanksgiving reservations at a well-reviewed restaurant, and we’re heading out.
We’ve been pouring over the guidebooks and emailing MORE restaurants for reservations (don’t know what we’re thinking, we only have 3 nights!), and we’re very, very excited.