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Finding thankfulness in empty nest adjustments

Baffled, we stared at our dining room table.

With the leaves, it seats 12. Without the leaves, it seats six. Now, there are just two of us.

“Where are we going to sit?” I asked my husband.

He shrugged.

Our places at the table changed over time as our family grew and then shrank. For several years, it’s just been Derek, me and our youngest son. In September, Sam accepted a teaching position at Odessa College in Texas. We hadn’t thought about the practical adjustments empty-nesters must make – like where to sit at mealtimes.

“We can’t sit next to each other. That’s just weird,” I said.

With a full plate in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, Derek nodded toward the door.

“Let’s eat on the deck,”

Crisis averted, we enjoyed our meal in the September sun and discussed where our new spots at the table should be.

“I don’t care where we sit as long as we’re not eating off TV trays,” he said.

I shuddered.

“Do they even still make those?”

In the weeks that followed we slowly found our new normal. While we miss our Baby Boy, we’re finding lots to love about our empty nest – like nuts. Sam has a severe peanut/nut allergy. We haven’t had a dish of cashews or peanuts in our home in 22 years. Now, we enjoy small dishes of mixed nuts as an appetizer or late-night snack. Also, our grocery bill has diminished considerably!

e aren’t the only ones adjusting to Sam’s absence. Our cats Thor and Walter have had to adapt as well – especially Walter. He’s a creature of habit, and his habit is to tag along after me all day long. Most mornings my tabby entourage escorts me to my basement office. Then he plunks himself on our old BarcaLounger near my desk in front of Sam’s TV.

Sam took the TV and the recliner with him when he moved. With no place to plunk, Walter took to napping at my feet. This proved to be a workplace hazard for both of us. I’d forget he was there and step on his tail, or he’d dart in front of me causing me to trip.

I explained the situation during a phone call with Sam.

“Maybe I should buy him a cat bed and put it next to my desk,” I said.

My son had a better idea.

“Why spend money on a cat bed he won’t use? Just buy a clothes basket. He loves them.”

There’s a reason we call him Smarty Pants Sam.

I bought a $4 basket; put an old afghan in it and now Walter has a safe place to nap when he comes to work with me.

Though I’ve found lots to enjoy about our first few months as empty-nesters, I have to confess to feeling a bit blue as I did my Thanksgiving shopping. It’s our first holiday without our youngest son. We’ll have seven family members at the table – I doubt I’ll need to extend it with a leaf.But when reaching for the serving platters behind my Christmas china, I rediscovered my thankful spirit.Sam will come home for Christmas and his place at the table will be ready.

1 thought on “Finding thankfulness in empty nest adjustments”

  1. My brother, Codito Ergo Sum (baby brother, beats to own drum, changes his FB names frequently and I have to keep a list, and he’s my favorite), just wrote a note to me last night about how his big plans to have both kids and family for Christmas fall into a black hole. Dinner for two for Christmas dinner is now his fate. I was no help as I am too empathetic, as we are two for dinner as well. And we both have come down with epic chest colds, the first illness since 2019. Plus, winter…

    And, don’t shudder too much, tv trays are our pretend deck. Christmas dinner will be at the table; we haven’t gone completely Bohemian.

    I will be glad when midnight arrives on New Year’s Eve.

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