Please join us in welcoming Mary Angela back to Chicks! She is the author of the Professor Prather academic mysteries and the new Happy Camper cozies. The first book in the series, Open for Murder, is out now, and Mary will give away an eBook to one lucky commenter today! 🌟
Different Can Be Good
I’ve been thinking a lot about the holidays and what they’ll look like this year. My daughters have been thinking about them, too, and asking questions. It’s hard to know how to answer, but usually the word different is part of our conversations. Different. Not a word you want to describe the holidays, which usually conjure up age-old traditions. But our discussions got me thinking: different can be good.
My daughters are dancers, which means every two years, they perform in the Nutcracker ballet at their dance school. It’s one of our favorite events but also one of the most time consuming. The practices always fall close to Thanksgiving. This particular year, they fell the night before the big day, which posed a problem. My sister was having Thanksgiving at her house, about 90 miles away, so most of my family traveled there the night before. A massive ice storm was headed our way, and it was due to arrive Thanksgiving morning.
I don’t know if you have ice storms where you live, but in South Dakota, ice storms can be treacherous. They can break trees, powerlines, and fences. I knew there was a chance we wouldn’t be able to travel to my sister’s house for the holiday, so I bought a small turkey and a few fixings. For the first time in my life, I bought canned (gasp!) sweet potatoes. It was a scant grocery list because, let’s face it, I’d driven in harsh Midwestern winters all my life, and my husband had a 4×4. We could get through anything.
Except a closed road. When I came down the stairs Thanksgiving morning and saw the mailbox covered with ice, I knew we wouldn’t be traveling. I turned on the news and confirmed what I’d already guessed: we were homebound for the holiday. My brother, who hadn’t left early either, was in the same predicament, so I invited him to dinner. Although I was embarrassed of my meager trimmings (my potatoes certainly didn’t taste like Mom’s), in true brother fashion, he made the meal feel like a feast.
Afterwards, we went shopping at the local drugstore, another first. I’d judged many shoppers for hitting the Black Friday sales before swallowing their last bites of food, and here I was, one of those shoppers. And it was fabulous. My brother and I wandered the store for a good hour, looking at lights, stuffed Santas, and blowup snowmen. It was a treat, especially since my kids were younger then and I rarely had time to shop by myself.
Looking back, I remember it as one of my favorite Thanksgivings. The dinner was low-key, and I got to spend one-on-one time with my brother. Not long afterwards, he would marry and have a family of his own. The opportunity would not come again.
Although the holidays will be different, different isn’t bad. Different brings challenges, but it also brings opportunities. I hope we find new ways to celebrate each other from a distance, and when next year comes, we remember this season not for how hard it was, but how much we grew from the experience.
Mary Angela is the author of the Professor Prather academic series, the Happy Camper cozy mystery series, and several short stories.
When Mary isn’t penning heartwarming whodunits, she’s teaching, reading, traveling, or spending time with her family. She lives in South Dakota with her husband, daughters, and spoiled pets.
You can find out more about her loves, including her writing, at MaryAngelaBooks.com.