Tickets For Two
By Christine Thomas
“Your Mom and I talked and we want to do something different for Thanksgiving this year.”“ Oh really, like what?” I said gripping the phone tighter. “We want to take you and Jim, and Joe and Amy, to the Cowboys game on Thanksgiving Day.”
My Dad’s offer was simple and appealing, but at the same time it put me in a familiar place, stuck between two good decisions. I twirled around the logistics of his offer like a Rubik’s cube. We were planning to spend Thanksgiving at my in-laws. If we accepted, my Dad’s offer where would everyone stay? Should I cook a turkey meal?
“Wow Dad, that’s really generous,” I said weakly. “Jim will probably want to go, but let me check and I’ll call you back.” As predicted, my husband wanted to go. He thought his parents would understand why we couldn’t make it. “Let me call my Dad.” I picked up the phone, and then set it back down. “Uh-oh, what about the kids?” If we were comic strip characters, we would have question marks above our heads. Realizing we couldn’t leave the kids home alone, and not knowing who would babysit on Thanksgiving Day, I insisted that Jim go without me. I could tell he wanted to say yes, instead, he made an announcement.
“This is your parents gift to us, I am not going without you, and I will not spend Thanksgiving Day without my family.” I urged him to reconsider, arguing that my Dad would want at least one of us to go. This dilemma wouldn’t be such a big deal except that my Dad has cancer. How could I deny his desire to create a memorable Thanksgiving while honoring my husband’s decision to keep our family together that day? I faced a call to duty, but which was higher, “Honor they mother and father,” or “Wives, submit to your husbands?”
We sparred awhile longer, but when my words began to hit below the belt, I knew it was time to retreat. The match ended in a draw. Meanwhile my Dad texted that my brother and his wife were on board. Oh good, at least one part of my Dad’s idyllic outing was in place. You know the saying, “Two wrongs, don’t make a right.” Well, neither do two rights make a wrong, and neither choice was wrong. I picked up the phone and dialed the home where I’d spent half my life’s Thanksgivings. I knew my Dad had glanced at caller i.d. “So what’d you decide?” “Well, Dad I don’t mean to disappoint you, and we really appreciate your offer, but here’s the thing…” I launched into my explanation. “It’s okay, Christine. I understand,” disappointment evident in his voice. I wilted on the other end of the phone, wavering in my decision. Then suddenly he said, “Hey, what do you say we come in town a few days early and celebrate Thanksgiving with your family then?” I swallowed the lump in my throat. “Yeah, Dad. That sounds like a great idea.”
Special memories can occur on any day of the year, not just the designated holidays, and some choices aren’t always a question of right and wrong. Sure, I’d feel a tinge of remorse on Thanksgiving Day thinking about my first family huddled together in the enormous stadium watching a nationally-broadcast football game. But even if I was sitting next to my Dad that day, I’d feel a longing to be seated around the fully decorated Thanksgiving spread at my in-laws, helping my husband cut up gravy-laden slices of turkey for our kids. Neither place was the wrong place to be.
Christine Thomas is a freelance writer in Denton, Texas who homeschools her four children. On Thanksgiving Day she will be fixing her children’s plates and watching the Cowboys football game on TV, carefully scanning the crowd for her Dad.