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Oh, look--it's the holidays.

So, today I didn't have to go to work. I have papers to grade, and an uncomfortable letter to write to the Vice President of the College...but, well, it's break. So I broke. I slept in a little, and then breakfasted and drove to Sharon Springs before the weather got icky.

Going to Sharon Springs isn't really awful. It's about 35 miles one way (about halfway to Albany). It's a tiny town, with nice people, and four shops I love, 3 of which I went into today so that we would have Thanksghannuka gifts for this weekend. So, first, because it would determine what else I needed to get, I went into Beekman 1802. And, as usual, spent a lot of money. Rowan and I agree that every dollar spent there is well worth it (small business, locally sourced, high quality), but, well....ouch. Still, we have lovely gifts (a wheel of cheese, wonderful jams, the best bruschetta I've ever had) and food for our Christmas Eve. Then I wandered down to McGuilicuddy's. The store had basically been gutted (I suspect to take stuff to their Saratoga Springs store), because there were lots of unpacked bags of soaps and other things for their Open House Weekend (which we will be in Massachusetts for), so I was only able to get gifts, not any of the staples for us (Lavender Vanilla Oatmeal soap for me, Shampoo Bar for the Duchezz), but that's okay. Then I went into the Cobbler's Shop for Christmas Shopping. Got some stocking stuffers, and just made myself happy looking at pretty things. I may go back for the Victorian Weekend, but that will be crazy crowded. I like to be able to move in these tiny little stores. And, besides, it is unlikely that on Victorian Weekend I'll be able to pet an Otterhound (which I did, today). There are fewer than 1000 in the entire world, and she was a lovely, friendly girl. There need to be more Otterhounds!

So then I came home before the yucky weather hit. I probably should be packing for the weekend in Massachusettes. But, well, I'm not. I've thought through what to take, it will only take me awhile to pack (1/2 an hour, maybe). I love going out to Wes and EJ's for Thanksgiving. They are chosen family. We have our traditions, and our joys. We love each other enough that when the flaws (some of them deep) show, we stay. We love. It isn't always easy, but it is family. It isn't blood, but it is family.

Still, I feel Morguhn's absence particularly acutely there. When Wes looks at us, the pain in his eyes that he is seeing two instead of three is clear. It is something he tries to hide, but it is profound for him, and blindingly clear. There is nothing we can do to ease that for him, and if he knew he was showing it he would be appalled. But it is there. And there are other tensions. Somewhere, somehow, I became the treasured "aunt" who can "talk to EJ" about "problems" that the children, especially Brianne, have with Mom. How did I become the "mediator" to smooth things out between mother and daughter? I adore Brianne, and found a "little sister" in her wife, but....sometimes I would just like to enjoy my time with EJ--not that easy since in many respects we are both emotional porcupines. We love each other, but it's a tricky relationship, and sometimes all the energy I have is consumed in negotiating that. It's worth it, but....sometimes it's exhausting.

Part of me would love to just stay home. Not do Thanksgiving. It is probably my least favorite holiday. Childhood/adolescent memories are...not good. Memories at Morguhn's brother's--mixed. The best have been at EJ and Wes's. And those aren't wonderful. Staying home, sleeping in, grading, watching television....yeah, it has an appeal.

Oddly, that's probably what Yule will be, but that one is one where I want to have a party. Want to host people. But, well, other people have other plans, so I've shelved what I would like to do. Birthdays trump. So, the wheel will turn.

I confess to a less than perfect mood. Tears lurk just behind the veil, and I am feeling the loss of those I cherish. Nonetheless, I am not alone. My life is good. I am thankful for love and laughter, friends and chosen family--both two-legged and four. Tomorrow I will see beloved friends, too seldom seen. It must be enough.