Our daughter is a very skilled soccer player that plays for a competition team. Several years ago, her team started doing tournaments over Thanksgiving weekend. This meant that we would have to celebrate Thanksgiving the Sunday before and then leave for the tournament on Thanksgiving Day. This year, we left the night before Thanksgiving as it began to snow hard. We drove to our first stop without much of a problem, stayed the night, and headed out again the next morning.
I texted one of my best friends Happy Thanksgiving and she asked for prayers as she was on her way to the hospital due to heart problems. What?! Maybe it was nothing, but I was so worried. I continued texting her and her husband and the only information was that they were running tests. She was several years younger than me! How could that be happening?! She learned that she had a minor heart attack and was not to do anything for days. Her and her husband would spend the night at the hospital for Thanksgiving. I was hours away from any chance of being with her and felt helpless to do anything to even show my love and support for her other than phone calls and texts.
I had strained my back working out before we left on the trip and it was difficult to sit in a car for such a long drive. We were about five hours from our destination and expected to get there around 2 pm that day. We continued our drive 45 minutes from our destination, we were re-routed by Google Maps due to a snowstorm in Southern California! We were routed off the main freeway for about 45 minutes only to find the road closed. We turned back to the freeway and were then re-routed the opposite direction only to find the highway closed. Another hour and a half round trip.
We stopped and ate a light lunch, assuming we would still make it to our destination and have Thanksgiving dinner somewhere. While we were eating, our daughter Facetimed the rest of her siblings and their mom, who were all together making dinner and enjoying each other’s company. How I wished I wasn’t on this stupid trip! We got back on the freeway and 2 hours later, we had moved about 1 mile, so we got off the exit.
I was frantically checking my Hotels.com account since it was 9 pm and it was clear that people who were still on the freeway were spending the night there. I found the last room at a hotel 2 cities back in the direction that we came. What a blessing! Our friends were still searching for hotels without having to back-track too far and were unsuccessful. We got to the hotel and had already given up on Thanksgiving dinner (we did get one the previous Sunday, but I was still hoping for more). The lobby of the Hotel was very nice, so we thought we were in good shape. At first, they couldn’t find the reservation that I had just booked and they said they didn’t have any more rooms and he could only take first come, first serve people that had confirmed with a credit card. I assured him that I did and asked him to keep checking. The reservation showed up just in time and he released the room. We got in the elevator with our luggage and could barely breathe due to marijuana smoke. We got to our floor and our first step off of the elevator made it obvious that it was from our floor. However, inside our room and it smelled fine (another blessing). The bed in the room was very firm and the hide-a-bed was pretty springy for our soccer player. There was no bedding for the hide-a-bed, so we got some sheets from the front desk. Luckily, we brought some extra blankets on the trip.
The next morning, I got up to work out and the fitness center had no mats, exercise balls, or free weights, but I did my best to modify a workout. I went upstairs and showered and as I got ready to use the wall-mounted hairdryer I realized it was broken. I called the front desk and they assured me that there was one that we could pick up. I sent my husband down and he brought up the hairdryer, but made a joke that he didn’t bring his tools, so he didn’t know how I was going to use the hairdryer – they had given him another wall-mount hairdryer with wires, but no way to plug it in! He was sweet to risk being electrocuted as he held the wires in the outlet while I dried my hair. Eventually, we got on the road.
So why am I telling you this story? With everything that happened, here is what I learned from the worst Thanksgiving I’d ever had:
- I am thankful the we were not in an accident in the storm like many of the others that were stuck.
- I am thankful that we were able to stay at hotel.
- I am thankful for a bed to sleep on.
- I am thankful for blankets.
- I am thankful for my health.
- I am thankful that our whole family didn’t have to endure the Thanksgiving that the three of us did.
- I am thankful for my husband.
- I am thankful that our 15 year old is a trooper and doesn’t complain.
- I am thankful for hairdryers.
- I am thankful that my friend is still alive.
- I am thankful for our blended family, even when I feel like the odd man out.
- I am thankful for all of the blessings that I take for granted every day.
Gratitude is what gets us through the difficult things in our lives. In our hallway at home I have a large white board with dry erase markers. At the top I wrote “I am thankful for…” and for several years now, we all write something we are thankful for on the board. Some days it is as simple as toilet paper! However, it does make us think about those things in our lives that we take for granted. It warms my heart when I walk by the board and see my name with a heart next to it and right now, every member of our family is written on the board.
As difficult as blended families are, we all need to remember our blessings and do something a little extra to keep those things in our minds, especially during the holidays when our expectations for wonderful family times might be at a high and the outcome doesn’t always meet our expectations.
What is a blended family?
According to Your Dictionary, “A blended family is defined as a family made of two parents and their children from previous marriages. An example of a blended family is a woman with two children from a previous marriage who marries a man with three children from a previous marriage.”
What are common problems and challenges for blended families?
Common problems for blended families include children not feeling loved or feeling left out, sibling rivalry, children manipulating parents, ex-spouses, dreading holidays, vacations, marital problems, finances and discipline (or lack thereof).
Can blended families be successful?
Although many stepfamilies seem doomed for failure, it is absolutely possible for a blended family to be successful. While some situations are unhealthy for everyone involved, many families can be saved if there is a desire to work through the problems.
How common are blended families?
Blended families are becoming more common. According to Pew Research 62% of children in the U.S. live in two-parent households and 15% of those are living with parents in a remarriage.