On Monday, there was a question on Chairman Mom asking—begging!—for tips on transporting three kids cross country and getting them to behave during a Thanksgiving meal.

That says it all about Thanksgiving, right?

There isn’t the immediate Santa threat nor kid gratification of presents the way there is with Christmas. But there’s all the other holiday headache. Weird small talk with family members who may have voted for Trump. Forcing your kids to hug people they can’t remember meeting before. The flights. The travel delays. The exhaustion, especially post-turkey.

I can’t remember Thanksgiving being that much of a huge deal for us as kids. We didn’t go anywhere, which, as the youngest of five, I’m sure was a blessing for my parents. But it also made it less memorable. We had a larger than usual dinner in our house at a slightly later time.

I got really into Thanksgiving once I got married. I would go to elaborate cooking lengths, and it was usually the holiday when we hosted my ex-husband’s family. That one-time Martha Stewart fest got a lot less fun once I had babies to also take care of and once I lost the in-laws.

I spent a few years post-divorce in Thanksgiving limbo, once again, not making many memories or traditions for my kids. My ex had family here, so I just let him have them every year. I did a three hour yoga workshop, a Soul Cycle class, and Paul and I would go to dinner somewhere that I could get turkey. No family. And only one of us really having any nostalgia about the holiday, since Paul is a Brit. (There was also the one time when we had armed guards at the next table.)

Those three Thanksgivings were a necessary palate cleanser with all I was going through. But as my ex’s family started to break up their own Thanksgiving tradition, I looked at two kids who had even less in the way of memory and tradition about Thanksgiving than I did. There was really no grandparent’s house for them to go to consistently on Thanksgiving. I didn’t want to just cook a slightly larger meal at a slightly later time at our house.

So we came up with a new tradition for just our family: We’d go to Palm Springs and get our last swim of the year in, have fire pit s’mores at night, read books in a hammock at night, go swimming and more swimming, eat pancakes with all kinds of obscene amounts of sugar on them (them, not me), and eat at a nice white-tablecloth restaurant for Thanksgiving after going to see a family-friendly movie that day because—hey!—none of us have to cook!

It was absolutely magical last year and we talked about it all year. This year, my ex let me have them again on Thanksgiving so we could repeat it. (Which is kinda fair, since he got three years of Thanksgiving in a row with them.)

My hope is that we can rope their dad and his girlfriend into coming with us and make it the annual holiday that BOTH their parents spend with them somewhere magical. I didn’t sell them on it this year, but maybe next.

My fall has been filled with travel and more hours than I usually work as Chairman Mom’s growth and ambitions have accelerated. So I’m looking forward to spending five days with them, devoted to them.

But I know from this amazing piece that my brain has tricked me into thinking last year was 100% blissful. It’s magic eraser’d the fights we had, the time I had to dive into the pool WITH ALL MY CLOTHES ON because Evie swam deeper than she promised me she would, the night at a Pizza Hut after mini-golf where I just left the table because I was so annoyed at how they were acting. It’s even forgotten the blown-out tire on our rental car.

But that’s OK. Just as my memory is erasing all those things and leaving only the good, so too is theirs. These are days they’ll always remember as our family’s unique take on Thanksgiving. It will not be relaxing. I will be ready to come back to work. But I’ll never get the chance to make this particular memory with them again.

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