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The First (Post-Baby) Thanksgiving

Nov24

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According to the Very Official Bounce Back Editorial Calendar (translation: a series of Post-Its stuck in a perpetually lost manila folder), this week’s topic is Holidays & Newborns & You. For short: Welcome to the SUCK.
I’ve thus been wracking my brain for days now, trying to come up with super-helpful tips about surviving all the upcoming holidays. Scheduling, traveling, entertaining, shopping, or just plain trying to sit down and eat some stupid turkey for without a squawling newborn attached to your boob while your father-in-law clears his throat for the umpteenth time and your teenage nephew keeps TOTALLY STARING AT YOU and your aunt says something about butter and baby weight when all you did was ask her to pass the sweet potatoes…it’s all insane.
Guess what! I really don’t have any tips. I’ve pretty much repressed all my memories of last year, when Ezra was about five or six weeks old at Thanksgiving. We were supposed to travel home but got a (in hindsight) fairly blissful reprieve because everyone got sick. We cooked a big dinner for ourselves at home.
I remember being overly grouchy and inordinately stressed out over what should have been a laid-back meal — the three-year-old refused everything on the table, right down to the dinner rolls, my husband kept trying to put the protesting baby in the swing over and over again, insisting that he’d be okay while I ate some food, since HE had some kind of weird mental ability to listen to Ezra cry without CLAWING HIS OWN FACE OFF. He very literally stopped screaming for 10 minutes right after we set the table and sat down and then started again as soon as we snapped some pictures and got ready to like, EAT the food we’d slaved over for hours, in shifts, taking turns cooking and wrangling children. PLUS, I was having a Fat Day and wearing maternity pants and I was tired and had a cold and by dessert I was truly baffled as to why we even bothered in the first place. Surely somebody delivers pizza on Thanksgiving, right?
So…yeah. Not exactly the most encouraging story for anyone newly postpartum who is planning to actually host guests on Thursday, or getting ready to fight the travel crowds on the roads, train stations or airports with a newborn in tow. Could my advice be to stay home, to take it easy, to order a ready-made meal from a restaurant, to demand that family comes to visit YOU but also stay in a hotel? Let’s all just blame the swine flu this year and go for a self-imposed football-related quarantine instead?
Thing is, it’s a crapshoot, every holiday, every trip, every year. Sometimes the baby sleeps and sometimes he screams. Sometimes he poops at the dinner table and sometimes your brother has too much to drink and embarrasses himself on the video camera. For every travel/family horror story there’s a Best Christmas Ever. Sometimes you collapse on the couch afterward, muttering THANK GOD THAT’S OVER, but then a year later you look back on the photos of the day and wonder what was really so terrible, because man, there’s nothing like super-cute kids in festive sweaters, am I right?
thanksgiving2008.jpg
(For the record, we are staying home this year, again. And cooking a big meal for ourselves, again. Noah still probably won’t eat anything but I’m thinking Ezra will be a BIT easier to please. In fact, we ordered a bigger turkey just for his mighty appetite.)


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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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16 Responses to “The First (Post-Baby) Thanksgiving”

  1. Belle Nov 24 at 11:49 am Reply Reply

    HOLY SHOOT number 1!

  2. Belle Nov 24 at 11:50 am Reply Reply

    Dangit I just realized my comment has to be “approved,” and therefore there was probably many other 1st comments. I’ll go wallow in my misery.
    Can I eat Ezra for Thanksgiving?

  3. HereWeGoAJen Nov 24 at 11:50 am Reply Reply

    Yeah. Christmas last year SUCKED with a three week old baby and ten relatives IN MY HOUSE. I cried every night.

  4. cassie Nov 24 at 12:31 pm Reply Reply

    Heee! I’m due next week with Baby #1 and made it very clear that we are not hosting a turkey dinner this year, NO ONE (most of our friends and relatives live out of state) would be allowed to stay at our place *if* they chose to visit, and if they did visit, we were offering absolutely no entertainment of any sort and would prefer they limit it to a couple of hours tops.
    So far, everyone’s respected the ultimatum and been good with it.
    Now let’s see how easily that kind of thing goes at Christmas… ;)

  5. Alissa Nov 24 at 2:52 pm Reply Reply

    Ugh. Somehow we’re off the hook for Thanksgiving – we declined all offers to travel and we are STAYING HOME! But Christmas? That’s another story. I decided I wasn’t going to make the 11 month old travel eleven hours in the car (plus, our car is not big enough to haul all the huge amounts of crap he is bound to get for Christmas). So the whole family is coming here. Which I am now regretting. Because how am I going to entertain them and feed them all? What am I going to do with the baby who will need to be kicked out of his room so others can sleep there, yet sleeps like CRAP when in our room? And really, a week straight of family? I’m going to jump off a bridge…

  6. Olivia Nov 24 at 4:29 pm Reply Reply

    We are hosting Thanksgiving this year with our 8 month old. Five guests (not bad), but all are friends of my husband, three of them are priests….I hope they don’t mind a flash of boob now and then.

  7. Tracy-Lynne Nov 25 at 10:47 am Reply Reply

    Amen. I put my foot down too with my 19 week old that we are not going to travel. The in-laws are 4 miles away that way when he wants to nap I can bring him home and put him in his own bed. I am just looking forward to a couple days of RR.

  8. Abby Nov 25 at 11:16 am Reply Reply

    Olivia, you should hang a large copy of the Litta Madonna (Madonna nursing Jesus) in your house. Then just nurse right in front of the painting each time. That should keep any complaints to a minimum.

  9. class factotum Nov 25 at 1:08 pm Reply Reply

    Because how am I going to entertain them and feed them all?
    Simple. You don’t. You put them to work. They are your family. Let them take care of you. Unless they are totally dysfunctional, they will be bored at being out of their element and will be dying for something to do. Maybe they will be bossy, which is even better, because bossy + bored is the perfect combination for Getting Things Done as long as you are not a control freak. Let your mom and MIL plan the menu and cook. Let your dad and FIL do all those honey-dos that your husband hasn’t had a chance to do. You can sit on the couch and watch Oprah and eat bon-bons.

  10. Lauren Nov 25 at 1:50 pm Reply Reply

    I’m right there, right now. My baby boy turned five weeks yesterday. We’re hosting Thanksgiving at our house. It sounded easier than driving all over the state to visit people, but I’m wondering now. My husband is working today while I’m at home cleaning and sticking a pacifier in a newborn’s mouth every time I walk by him. And he won’t nap today unless I’m napping with him. And I definitely don’t have time for that. I want to pack myself up and go hide in a hotel somewhere until it’s all over. But tomorrow I’ll put my cutest outfit on (you know, the only one that freaking fits right now) and I’ll listen as my mother and mother-in-law and sister and sister-in-law (who has never had children) all tell me what I should and shouldn’t be doing and what I should and shouldn’t be eating and how the baby should and shouldn’t be acting. *Sigh* Thanks for letting me vent. Hopefully it’ll feel better than all of that.

  11. margo Nov 25 at 2:01 pm Reply Reply

    Yes, and don’t forget what happens to the children when they are fed sugar, kept up late, and TOTALLY OVERWHELMED with good-hearted relatives who don’t know WHEN TO STOP for pity’s sake and the kids end up bouncing off the walls and then sobbing in heaps on the floor and nobody belives the poor parents that really, in their own environment, with their own schedule, with some decent nutrition and appropriate play activities, these children are very good kids. Grrr.

  12. Anonymous Nov 25 at 4:09 pm Reply Reply

    My husband’s family doesn’t get together for anything and they are not close BUT his sister likes to have everything done her way all the time and she decided she DID want to get together with us lat christmas. So Christmas Eve night she showed up on our door with her husband, their other brother, his girlfriend and her two kids along with a keg and lots of wine as we were getting ready to go to my families traditional Christmas Eve party to introduce our 2 week old baby to everyone for the first time. We ended up staying home because the other brother was in from out of town to visit his girlfriend and her kids (who the sister doesn’t like). They all got drunk, the girlfriend’s kids ended up sleeping on my couch until 2 am, when the sister had a drunken screaming match with the other brother because she doesn’t like his girlfriend.
    They pulled the same crap at Easter and were threatening to do it again this year at christmas. In fact we are going to his mother’s house (the in-laws line in another state) tonight specifically so that we don’t have to have a repeat of last year, thanksgiving with his family christmas with mine…but I don’t think the sister is going to be cool with it…in fact if any one has any advice on how to deal with a drama queen SIL who wants everything done her way and likes to show up drunk on your doorstep pls let me know

  13. Natalie Nov 25 at 4:10 pm Reply Reply

    My husband’s family doesn’t get together for anything and they are not close BUT his sister likes to have everything done her way all the time and she decided she DID want to get together with us lat christmas. So Christmas Eve night she showed up on our door with her husband, their other brother, his girlfriend and her two kids along with a keg and lots of wine as we were getting ready to go to my families traditional Christmas Eve party to introduce our 2 week old baby to everyone for the first time. We ended up staying home because the other brother was in from out of town to visit his girlfriend and her kids (who the sister doesn’t like). They all got drunk, the girlfriend’s kids ended up sleeping on my couch until 2 am, when the sister had a drunken screaming match with the other brother because she doesn’t like his girlfriend.
    They pulled the same crap at Easter and were threatening to do it again this year at christmas. In fact we are going to his mother’s house (the in-laws line in another state) tonight specifically so that we don’t have to have a repeat of last year, thanksgiving with his family christmas with mine…but I don’t think the sister is going to be cool with it…in fact if any one has any advice on how to deal with a drama queen SIL who wants everything done her way and likes to show up drunk on your doorstep pls let me know

  14. Suzanne Nov 30 at 3:47 pm Reply Reply

    Yes! What Margo said about no, really, these are good children!
    We just got back from Ohio (9 hour drive each way) with our 7 month old. It was torture. He cried from the moment we got there Wednesday until Friday morning when *most* of the relatives had dispersed. It started as grumpy/tired + teething pain but after being passed around and touched by 30+ people it turned into a severe cold. And of course no one in Ohio has as thermometer or infant tylenol or a humidifier or saline nose drops or ANYTHING EVEN REMOTELY HELPFUL in dealing with a sick baby. Thank God Walmart was open on Thanksgiving.
    We’re traveling for Christmas too, but just to my parent’s house where the total relative count is only 3 plus ourselves. But after Dec 25th? I’m gluing my front door shut.

  15. Larysa Nov 30 at 8:34 pm Reply Reply

    Alissa! We are in the same boat (do we know each other from somewhere??? :)
    We went nowhere for Thanksgiving. Our older kid was just sick enough to not be lying to our family when we said we couldn’t visit. Unfortunately, everyone is coming here for Christmas – and the day before Christmas, and the day after Christmas….
    My favorite part is that I have to deal with my children after everyone is gone. After the spoiling, staying up late, sugar-highs, and attention. It takes me at least 2 days for every day of visiting to get my kids back to normal.

  16. kari Weber Nov 30 at 10:26 pm Reply Reply

    I just did a 9+ hour car ride from CA to Arizona and then back… with a 7 month old, a 4 1/2 year old, my MIL and my husband… for Thanksgiving. With some careful organization of the van (sitting in the back next to the toddler, keeping the seat in front of me folded out of the way for more leg room and my bag ‘o tricks, and the baby in arms reach) it wasn’t too bad. I was able to feed the baby while we drove with a bottle, and even made some oatmeal and fruit to feed him while we were in the car. I could give him snacks, play with him etc. while still keeping the toddler entertained. My husband drove most of the way, and my MIL stayed in the front FAR from me! Better than I had anticipated.

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