Dad and Kyle at Christmas 2011

As I mentioned last night, I am planning on getting out to hunt some birds the weekend after next, and I am looking forward to that very much.  That will be the weekend right before Thanks Giving, and right after my hunting, Kyle and I will be going to Kansas to spend the holiday with my family.  My mother passed away on March 1st of this year, so this will be my first Thanks Giving without her, which is a little tough for me.  She will be missed by many on that day, as she is every day.

I have a huge family, lots of aunts and uncles, with lots of kids, who have kids, and they are all back in Kansas.  Often times I regret that I moved away from that close-knit family, but the Air Force called me to Colorado, and I stayed.

Growing up with a close family was something that I didn’t realize I would miss until I had moved away.  All of the holidays were spent with the family, and there were a lot of traditions; like caroling on Christmas Eve, the Easter egg hunt with all of my cousins, Mother’s Day with a big picnic at the park, Father’s Day got ignored for some reason, the 4th of July at my grandparent’s house with fireworks and bar-b-q, and of course Thanks Giving with the massive meal and all of the family there.  After moving to Colorado, I didn’t have much of a chance to give my kids that experience, and that is something I regret in my life.  For that reason it is always special to go back to Kansas for the holidays.

Family Christmas Dinner 2011

This year it will just be Kyle and me; my daughter Jessica and my older son Jacob and his family can’t go, which is unfortunate, but understandable.  I am looking forward to the trip, having all of that one-on-one time with Kyle while we are driving, staying with my sister Kolleen and her husband Mace, and spending time with my aging family.  It will be hard not having Mom there, and I’m sure we all feel the same way about that.

It’s difficult when you get to be my age and the generation before starts to pass on.  I remember something my dad told me after my Grandma Doris’ funeral that has always been in the back of my mind.  He said “Well, that generation is gone, I guess your mom and I are the next chapter.”  The way he said that to me seemed calming in a way at the time, but disturbing the more I thought about it afterwards.

And now the next chapter is here.  My Mom is gone, and Dad isn’t doing so well.  As for me, in my mind I feel as young as I did on those days of blowing up firecrackers on the 4th of July with my cousins when I was ten years old.  But when I look in the mirror, I realize that the chapters are turning, and that is a sad feeling.  But it makes me want to make the most of every day, to be the parent that I want to be for my kids, and to be the Grandpa that I want to be for Ryan, even though he lives so far away.  So that’s how I look at life now; I need to make the most of every day.  This will be a great Thanks Giving!