Well, this will go down as a Thanksgiving to remember.
The anticipation had been building for weeks. Kates’ family accepted our invitation to The ‘Ville for the holiday, and we were so excited to be hosting for the very first time -- not to mention showing off our new home. And after the big move in March, we had yet to complete all of the unpacking, organizing and general settling in. So this event finally pushed us to get it done.

We’d spend the last few days unpacking the remaining boxes, and removing any clutter left stacked in the corners. I gave the garage a good cleaning, and reconstructed a shaky shelf that was bothering me. We finally put our 40-year-old water heater out of its misery, and had it replaced with a new model Tuesday, which is a story in itself. We reorganized a couple rooms. We finally decorated our walls.

Phoebe was as excited as anyone. Grandpa S. sent her a letter a few weeks ago that included a November calendar and some stickers, with instructions for Phoebe to add a sticker to the calendar every day and count the days until they would be here for Thanksgiving.

Last night, Kates and I went into a furious cleaning mode. Laundry. Dusting. Vacuuming. Preparing the guest rooms. We let Phoebe run wild around the house, thinking it would be good to let her stay up late and hoping she would sleep in late today. … We received confirmation from Kates’ family that they were on their way, and we anticipated their arrival around 2 a.m. I was planning to stay up and wait for them.

Just as Kates was settling into bed around 11 last night, I received a text from Kates’ mother. “Trouble in Tiffin! Stopped for gas & now the car won’t start! Tow truck is here - more when we know something.” … About an hour later, she called me with an update. The tow driver couldn’t determine the problem. The best they could do was check into a hotel for the night and hope to get a rental car in the morning. They were still about 4 ½ hours out.

This morning, we awoke and checked in with the Kates’ family for another update. They reserved a rental car through their insurance company, but there was no one at the rental outlet to release the car. All they could do was camp out in their hotel room for the day and get the rental tomorrow morning. Totally not the Thanksgiving any of us had hoped for or planned.

On with the day.

Kates made us some delicious egg sandwiches for breakfast. And afterward, we had a Skype session with my parents while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade on TV. … Mostly, Phoebe couldn’t care less about the parade, except when she saw a balloon character that she recognized; Buzz Lightyear, Ronald McDonald and Snoopy drew the biggest cheers from her.

After the parade, we turned to the pregame show for the Packers-Lions game. … Phoebe stayed content playing games and coloring. … One of her favorite things these days is to climb the step stool in our kitchen so she can reach the Post-it notes on our refrigerator. She then draws on them and attaches each uniquely colored Post-it to the side of the refrigerator. At one point I stepped into the kitchen, and she held up one of her latest creations -- a Post-it she colored completely in black. Said Phoebe, in her trademark way of speaking several thoughts in one breath: “Dad, does this look like a mouse? I think it does. Oh, I need to add a tail!”

The Packers kicked off at about 11:40 a.m., and Kates made up some nachos with turkey meat for our lunch time snack. The big turkey and all other Thanksgiving-related menu items officially had been delayed for a day.

By halftime Kates had retreated for a nap, and Phoebe followed. … I enjoyed watching the Packers put the game away in the third quarter dozing off myself and missing the final 11 or so minutes of the game. Fortunately, the Packers held on for the win.

When all of us rose again, we decided we needed to get out and planned for a night at the movie theater. We’d hit the dinner theater and see the new Muppets movie, and have a grand time. …

Right about that time, Kates’ mother called with this news: Miraculously, the car started, and they were on their way! Praise the lord!

So, we put the kibosh on the Muppets movie and decided to save that for later this weekend with the larger family, as we’d originally planned. … But we still wanted out of the house for while. We cruised Main Street to see what was open -- I was hoping for Kentucky Fried Chicken -- but the only places open were Taco John’s, McDonald’s and Applebee’s. Pheebs chose McDonald’s, and we picked “Winnie the Pooh” out of the Redbox kiosk as an added bonus for the night; we watched it a full two times before our visitors finally arrived. And we worked in a second Skype session with my parents, Uncle Doug and Great-Grandma H.

Shortly after 9 p.m., just after we'd embarked on a third showing of “Winnie the Pooh,” Kates spotted the van coming up the driveway. They had arrived, and great celebration ensued. For all of the hugs and happiness shared when they came through the door, it was as if they had been lost and driving for weeks. It was a day of many ups, downs, twists and turns to say the least.
And yet, all things considered, this was one of the most peaceful and relaxing days I’ve had in a long, long, long time. “Maybe it was a blessing that we got to spend the day together, just the three of us,” Kates said tonight.

And for that I am thankful.

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