A tidal wave of thanks

A great storm is coming.

There is no way to adequately prepare for her onslaught or redirect her ferocious path. She comes every year and strikes fear in the hearts of all those around her. She is one-part angry Chicagoan bemoaning her dreary winter fate. She is also one-part tired mom cursing the endless school communications regarding reported diseases, new project outlines, and requests for book fair volunteers.

She is Hurricane Marianne

Hurricane Marianne starts out as a Tropical Storm. In the beginning, she’s actually quite pleasant. She’s breezy and warm. After all, there is holiday planning to do! The decorations! The baking! Tropical Storm Marianne merrily tends to all the festive details with her three little boys serving as holiday elves. Christmas songs play on the radio. The smell of cinnamon, pine cones, and vanilla waft through the house. The first snowflakes bring great excitement to little boys with their promise of future sledding and skating.

Still. We know who’s on her way. And it ain’t St. Nick.

Thanksgiving is welcomed first. With all its trimmings and good tides, our storm stays firmly in check. Then there is the next surge of holiday parties that stave off Hurricane Marianne a little bit longer. Christmas is the piece de resistance, carrying its full arsenal of childhood magic, peppermint mochas, and electric trains. Hurricane Marianne dare not rear her ugly head with an army of smiling gingerbread cookies staring up her.

And for a while, all is quiet.

Then quickly, without much warning, Hurricane Marianne makes landfall.

With nothing to look forward to but a long winter of sub-zero temperatures, gloomy skies, and layers of ice and sleet to scrape off the minivan, Hurricane Marianne strikes her preliminary blows. She’s less patient with the kids. She is testier with teachers and their backpack notices (Are we done with fundraiser notices yet, Mrs. Teach, or do I need to start hawking my own flippin’ blood?. Worst of all, she is really, really hard on the one man who chooses to stand by her: Weatherman Joe.

Weatherman Joe accurately predicts Hurricane Marianne’s path every year. He takes the kids sledding to keep them away from the eye of the storm. He diminishes her strength by pouring a nightly shot of Bailey’s. He goes so far as to take out the garbage without being asked and even hangs the coat rack that has been sitting by the door for three months.

Yet when Hurricane Marianne is at her absolute worst, he reminds her. The kids are healthy. We have an income. Our friends and family are wonderful. We are blessed.

Unfortunately, that kind of logic and reasoning never really work on a woman in the throes of seasonal affective disorder. So goes the sun, so goes Hurricane Marianne’s sanity.

What does work is having our perfect little storm take a deep breath and a step back to find thanks in the unique gifts the year has brought her. So in honor of Thanksgiving, I’ve been working on my happy-happy-thankful list for a few days. Here’s what I got so far:

  • 7-year Diaper Duty: DONE
  • Minivan: Last payment in the mail.
  • Stretch Marks: Nicely faded.
  • Blog: My mom really likes it.
  • Kids: Often described as “nice” and “thoughtful” by field trip moms.
  • Husband: Still here.
  • Me: Ditto.

They say it’s often the little things that can make or break us. I’m bound and determined to keep my ungrateful alter ego locked in the attic this entire winter as an homage to my favorite Bronte sister.

So here’s to each of us finding a Thanksgiving list that works. If not, I’ve got a bottle of Bailey’s with your name on it chilling in the fridge.

Happy holidays, Chicago Parents!

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