Here I sit on the brink of my 35th consecutive Thanksgiving, a streak that I take pride in because if the streak ends I will be dead, literally. Like most I enjoy Thanksgiving and all that it brings; food, family, football and napping. This Thanksgiving though will be my last that is baby free. Long gone will be the ease of my enjoyment of many holidays.
With my first child due some time in April I am having to face the reality that my 2013 holidays will be far more complicated. Five years ago I successfully streamlined my entire holiday calendar to such a degree that a 6-Sigma Black Belt would become aroused at it's brilliance. I started a three year rotation for Thanksgiving so that we hit all families, but only one a year. No more running around and being force fed my weight in turkey. With my wife's family being Orthodox and on the Cyrillic calendar there is no interference for Christmas or New Years Eve, so we hit up my mom on Christmas Eve and the old man on Christmas Day. No running and no hustling, the only stress is generated by my sister when she tries to stop me from watching football.
I know it's coming to an end though, but to what degree? Will I be in constant motion cleaning up food from the floor? Up and down out of my chair trying to feed a fussy baby and myself? I imagine that there will be some of that along with diaper changes and face wiping and expert advice from the well-meaning grandparents. Parents have been doing it for centuries so how bad could it be? I'm sure all the other parents are chuckling rolling their eyes and thinking "this clown has no idea what's about to smash". I get it, I'm naive to it. But at least I know I'm in for something right? Doesn't that count for something?
At Thanksgiving especially I like to arrive, have a bunch of drinks, munch on some snacks, watch the game then sit down and embarrass myself at the dinner table. Follow all that up with some more drinks and football, capped off with a nap on the couch. That is my routine. Next year there will probably be none of that. The drinks will be cut down unless I can convince my wife to drive and forget about any napping. My son or daughter will be the center of my Turkeyverse for all time. My only hope is that the grandmothers and aunties in the room will refuse to surrender the baby thus freeing me from any responsibilities for the duration.
To be clear, I am looking forward to my child and being a father. I am nervous however about the drastic life-style change that is coming along with it. People can tell you that parenting can be stressful and your life will never be the same for better or worse. People can tell you that just going to your in-laws for Thanksgiving turns into a mobilization that an Army General would be afraid of. But you can never truly know until you are there. At least I can't, I'm a hands on kind of learner.
Like everything else in life, when the time comes, and everything changes, I'll change with it, and I'll adapt. After a few years of running around like an asshole, trying to figure out the best way to get from A to B, I'll streamline the holidays again and become their master once more. For the time being though I will accept my status as a parenting rookie and take my lumps. But during those dark years there is going to be plenty of pouting if I don't get to watch football and have at least one sip of rakija.