Joan H. and Bernadine Spitzsnogel joined forces to write about the drop-in visits of their children.
Bernadine: Two university students who don’t know each other may pass at the airport on every major holiday. And their mamas worry about them, even though these two fine people are mostly grown-up. They are both only children, long-awaited and, oh, so loved.
She is a lithe, silky-skinned beauty with a killer smile who grew up in an East Coast city and studies journalism in the Midwest.
He is a bearded, bespectacled studious young man with a killer smile who grew up in a Midwestern city and studies political science on the East Coast.
These two strangers may have unknowingly passed each other Sunday at Reagan National Airport when returning to school.
Joan H: My daughter arrived on Thanksgiving Day just in time to have some dinner at home before dinner at her cousins'. She looks happy and loaded down with a backpack and carry-on. She has packed books because finals are coming up.
She has also packed um, summer clothes.
"I am freezing out there,” she tells me. "I'm going to need some winter clothes."
Instead of avoiding the malls this weekend I was in the middle of them. First for a pair of boots. Adorable, but definitely NOT on sale.
Next stop, "Forever 21." A store where if anyone over 21 tries to shop there, they should be carded at the door. It is chock full of schlock which appeals to teenage girls nationwide.
We left with two bags full of sweaters and pants for the girl who should have applied to schools in Southern California...
Bernadine: My son flew Wednesday on the busiest travel day of the year. He survived his TSA scan and arrived home on time. As he came through the security gates, he looked and carried himself just like his father. And that smile, it melts my heart every time.
My son’s trips home are changing now that he is more than halfway through college. Friends are scattered, married and living away, in the service, on engineering co-ops. On this short visit, he is satisfied to spend time with the Old Folks and the Older Folks. With one notable exception: the constant conversations with a new special someone back at college. Thank God for IM, texting, Skype, e-mail, and that old-fashioned means of courtship: the telephone.
We didn’t do any shopping, except for a quick trip to Borders so he could buy his girlfriend “It’s a Wonderful Life” for Christmas.
I asked him about his ragged jeans. “Do you want some new jeans?” I offered.
“What for? These are fine.”
Joan H: Watching my daughter with her cousins at Thanksgiving was so gratifying. The girls, all three of them and their brother welcome her as a long lost sister. It warms my heart. It is also very funny to listen to.
We are the non-drinkers of the family, yet we bring some kind of beer we hear is the hip beer to drink these days.
My daughter tells me she sees her aunt hides it in the closet. We laugh hysterically.
"Don't you just love our family,?" my daughter says to me later without a trace of humor.
She appreciates and embraces the family filled with so much quirky goodness.
Bernadine: My son laughed like a ninny when playing euchre with his uncle, cousin, and grandpa, and enjoyed yelling at the television with his Dad when the Pacers played.
He even indulged his grandfather in several picture-taking sessions for the grandparent’s Christmas card. And he did not make a face and ruin the first session as his same-age cousin did. (Yes, boys will be boys, even at twenty.)
Saturday night he checked into his flight online, went to bed early, and consulted us about the early trip to the airport.
This morning we left the house at five-thirty, carefully watching for deer like the multi-point buck we saw in the backyard on Thanksgiving morning, and drove the quiet trip to the airport. After hugs, he was off, in his overstuffed blue parka, back to his own life.
Joan H: I didn't stay up to watch "The Soup" with her Friday night although I could feel her poking me with her finger. "Mom, c'mon, it's on."
I didn't go to Black Friday at the mall when it opened at midnight. By ten-thirty I was barely able to move.
"Oh Mom, just another hour and and a half to go!"
I definitely do not have her energy.
I did however, have the best talk about religion, spirituality, atheism and the meaning of life I've ever had with anyone.
We shopped, we discussed the Existence of God, and we ended our time together over plates of chicken and waffles.
It was hard for me to say good-bye.
But there she was. New boots off, skipping through security, not even looking back. I know that's a good sign.
As these two strangers cross the country in opposite directions, both leave a nest nurtured with hope and love. And a bathroom littered with dirty towels, and an unmade bed.