What are You Thankful For?


Hallam made a card for us yesterday.  This is what it said, creative spelling and all:

“I am thankful for:

Mom and Dad, school, home, your job, life!, Fred and Squirrel, Mendy and Michelle [his teachers!], Grandma and Grandpa, my friends, your cooking, books, clothes, your love, your persinality, fun, food, caring.”

It’s a pretty fabulous list.  I especially like the exclamation mark after life!

But something, or someone, is missing.  My parents are not on it.

It’s not Hallam’s fault, of course.  We live in America; they live in England.  He only sees them once or twice a year.  I know he loves them as much as his Grandma and Grandpa.  But his innocent omission made me sad.  I’ve written in this blog about different US/UK perspectives about things, but that’s all just fluff.  When you choose to move your life half the way across the world, this is what matters.

When I told my parents that we were going to move to America, they were (or appeared to be) pretty stoical about it.  After all, they knew the territory: my mother moved to England from New Zealand to marry my father.  I told them that on aggregate they would end up spending more time with us, as visits would be for weeks, not afternoons.  It turns out that I was right about this, but as my mother says, it’s not the same.  And she’s right.  We can’t visit on a whim, just for an afternoon.  We go for months, and months, and months, without seeing each other.  They are not getting the chance to watch their grandchildren grow up, the way grandparents should.

Now, we have it lucky compared to what they went through a generation earlier.  When my mother traveled to England, she came on a boat.  (Sorry, Mum.)  People wrote letters that took weeks to arrive.  A three minute telephone call cost a week’s salary.  We’re very fortunate that we can afford to fly across the Atlantic every year.  I only spent time with my grandparents twice that I can remember, when I was five and seven.  I did not know them, except through my mother’s stories (which were many, thankfully.)

In contrast, I speak with my Mum and Dad at length every week.  We email; we do facebook and can post photos instantly; sometimes we do iChat and send videos.  (Sometimes they even read this blog.)  So we keep in touch, better than we ever could have before.  And I’m thankful for that.

But it’s not the same.



Comments 6

  1. funny, when I read the card I thought it said, “granda and grandpa” thereby leaving out the grandma’s. Guess he was just missing the ‘m’ in grandma?

  2. I am thankful for a Nanny and Papa who are stoic about it and enjoy every minute when we do have time together. And I am thankful for a husband who generally holds up pretty well, waves of homesickness aside. Thank you.

  3. A couple of summers ago we sent Samantha to England by herself for a couple of weeks so she could have full immersion in her English side. Wayne’s cousin flew over to get her and bring her back. When it was Hayley’s turn last summer his cousin wasn’t available (now sporting sprogs of his own) so Hayley, at age 8, had to fly over alone. It was a terrifying thought for me and I wanted to fly over with her. I promised I’d only escort her to the airport and then venture off to, oh, Italy or somewhere while I waited for her visit to conclude. Wayne was having none of it. Apparently, even my presence at Heathrow would have contaminated the purity of the journey and the effort to even the dual nationality playing field. England is winning. Their trips were enchanted whirlwinds of Legoland, Buckingham Palace, the theater, museums, the Eye, 99s, etc., lots of doting relatives and trunk loads of souvenirs. This is just boring ol back home.

  4. My nephew is in Afghanistan most of the year… he has three little boys. Their computer (here in the states) sits facing the breakfast table and he is on Skype (ichat) every morning. The boys see him and talk to him as they eat breakfast and get ready for school. It’s not the same as being there of course, but they don’t forget him and he is a part of their every day existence. He knows what they are doing, he sees their school projects, and he tells them stories about what he is doing. Given the circumstances I think it works very well. Maybe Grandma and Grandpa could join the family on a regular basis?

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