Thanksgiving was rough--everything slightly off, the food, the gatherings, the Black Friday run to the store (this time just the Dollar Tree to procure snow globe objects for Tuesday's workshop.) Rough in the way that had be crying in all sorts of random ways--in train stations, on buses, in my bed under cover of dark. I hadn't been back to the house since the couple days after her death and while things are very much the same there in terms of routines --my dad still doing the cooking and the cleaning like over the summer while she was laid up. The same westerns and football and old shows on the television. Christmas decorations hunted down and put up courtesy of my sister last week (including about 200 snowman figurines.) The same Netflix shows late at night (I was stupid & teary on the couch when I realized she won't see the second season of Stranger Things, which she really liked.)
The most noticable difference that my mother is no longer in her favorite chair and instead, her ashes perched atop the mantle. We've yet to really discuss where/if some will be scattered (her joke that she wanted to be partly spread on the Bulls court at the United Center) I imagine, my Dad likes having her remains there, so maybe they'll stay in the urn (it's actually a really nice engraved marble box that sits middle of the mantle surrounded with some of her favorite things and only a few feet away from her chair (after the tears I was joking in my head, well, maybe she did get to watch ST, only not in the form she started in.)
If home was weird, gatherings were even weirder, since, super introvert that I am, I still, even a full-ass grown adult, stayed close to her hip (mostly because she was always talking and I could sort of relax and not feel like I really had to.) Now I'm kinda adrift in the small talk without an anchor. I suspect my dad and sister feel this way, as well, the most vocal and talkative person in the family now this huge vacancy. I noticed this acutely in the restuarant we went to after making the arrangements the first full day after she was gone, the silence at the table that was usually filled by her.
My trip back to the city last night felt like an escape, which is unfair, because it actually would have been an excellent holiday otherwise--lots of food and family and trying-to-have fun times. Admittedly, I was cheered by the fact that I left a cold, deserted bus station in the dark of Rockford at 7pm and arrived to crazy holiday bustle downtown and hour and a half or so later..two very different worlds and this one I am taking refuge in until the next holiday. Meanwhile I will indulge in my own traditions, Chicago holiday fun--putting up my tree, bingeing on cookie dough and peppermint ice cream, watching bad holiday romance cable movies, (the kind my mother loved more than anything, but that I engage in as sort of a guilty little pleasure.) Zoo lights w/ spiked hot chocolate & friends, maybe the German market downtown, and mostly crawling out from under the pile of work awaiting me and due before the end of the year. Maybe by Christmas proper I'll be in a better frame of mind and ready to face Rockford again.