I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving! I went to North Carolina to spend the weekend with my family, and we had a really nice time. For the past few visits, my mother has insisted that we do things; normally, we’d sit around and watch television, but she’s been forcing us to get out. Last year, we drove all the way to Cherokee. Not inclined to take a long drive again, my spouse and I had to think of some other things. And we did them! I didn’t take a ton of pictures because I wanted to be fully present, but this trip, we did a couple of new things!
On Thursday night, we went to see Creed II. No spoilers, it was way better than I was expecting it to be and way better than the first one. Given the period of U.S. history we’re in, in which Russia decided the outcome of our presidential election, it was titillating to see the Cold War being played out again. Rocky Balboa ended it the first time; let’s see how it goes now.
On Friday night, we went bowling. My mom set up a date for us during a family beach vacation a couple years ago, so my spouse figured it’d be a viable option for “something to do” while we were at home this time, so we did. I found myself surprised that bowling alleys—like, just a bowling alley, not one in a bigger venue like a Dave & Buster’s, for example—still exist. And they’re still hella popular! It was actually pretty crowded after 9pm on a Friday.
(Prior to bowling, my spouse and I drove around Charlotte trying to find a place to watch #TheMatch, the betting game between Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. The whole thing was a sham 15 years delayed, but it was nice to go to a part of Charlotte I hadn’t been to before.)
On Saturday, my mom, my spouse, and I went to afternoon tea the Ballantyne Hotel in south Charlotte. I’ve done afternoon tea twice before, once in London and once in Scottsdale, and I love it. It seems hoity-toity, but it’s actually really nice, and unexpectedly relaxing. As you’ve read before, since I live far away from my family and have my whole adult life, I sometimes feel like we don’t know each other all that well. My mom even told me that once. So, I wanted to do something with Mommy we hadn’t done before, something to show her some aspect of what I like and who I am. And one of the things I enjoy doing is having tea and champagne! At the Ballantyne, the champagne didn’t come with free refills like at the other places I’ve had tea, but it was still nice. Mommy enjoyed it, and we got to spend some quality time together, both of which were what mattered most to me.
And on Sunday, after the Panthers lost to the Seahawks in what I can only think of as a repeat of the 2004 Superbowl, we went to an outdoor Christmas market, one of those fake German things with the stalls full of vendors selling random stuff. It was a chilly night, so we sipped hot apple cider and mulled wine as we roamed around, and we ate bratwurst and pretzels. It definitely wasn’t the first year they’ve had this, but I don’t know why we hadn’t been before.
My mom forcing us out of the house was really helpful. It’s easy to get bogged down in a rut of sorts and think boredom is your only option when you’re away from home. But that’s not the case. I also realize that it’s important to do these things that seem so random—they get everyone out of their comfort zone and you start sharing who you are with each other.
This is the longest visit I’ve made to NC in a long time (and the only time I’ve been home all year, unfortunately), and it felt well worth it. My family is changing, as humans do, and it’s high time I took more responsibility for keeping up with the ways in which they’re evolving, especially if I want them to do the same for me. Less philosophically, doing activities might result in some new family traditions. And Lord knows I love a good family tradition.