Our Purpose - Karen and I are parents. I mean, we're individuals, we're a couple, we're friends, lovers, entrepreneurs, we have many roles. But when we met in 1987 and married in 1988, there were children. Hers and mine. We didn't have that newlywed period, the time when you solidify that relationship before the stork arrives. Along the way, we've had good times and times and challenging times.
Our first Thanksgiving was ... I would say, interesting. I was hosting the morning show on KNAX-FM in Fresno, CA. Karen, as "Storm Kelly," was our weather reporter. I had been flirting with her on the air for some time. At a meeting of the Junior League of Fresno, our sales manager was asked to chide me for being rude to "Storm," on the air. I think it came from my having asked her out on the air, and her turning me down. I then began telling (making up) stories about her dancing on the tables at local night spots. The ladies of the Junior League didn't find that humorous. So Thanksgiving rolls around and Karen (as Storm) invites my kids and me to have Thanksgiving dinner with her and her two kids. Of course I accepted. Her kids, my kids, and a fire. I was on the air Thanksgiving morning. Karen called me to say there was something burning. It was a plastic-y odor. Seems Karen didn't know about the bag o' turkey stuff, the giblets and, well, whatever's in the plastic bag deep inside the bird's insides.
OOPS. Dinner worked out. We ate. I did what Chambers men have done for generations. I sat down in front of the TV, watch football and fell asleep.
Our first argument. She cooked and didn't expect to have to do all of the clean-up by herself.
Fast forward. Thanksgiving has been full of surprises and fun over the years. Our house, my sister's, my Mom's. Wherever we've stopped to give thanks for the blessings of the year gone by, there have been kids. Lots of kids. Eventually, hers, mine and ours. The hers and mine grew and went. But there was still the ours in the menagerie. But this Thanksgiving was the last. It's not like the kids are ... well, gone. Not really. What we've learned is that the bigger the kids the bigger the problems. They're still around. But these past few years, there haven't been as many of us around the table on that Thursday in November. But Bailey was still there. And sometimes a friend whose family, from another country, didn't do much on Thanksgiving, or a boyfriend who did everything he could to impress Bailey's Mom and Dad. But Bailey was always there.
This Thanksgiving was the last. On Friday, November 27th, I came home from a meeting with Bob Decina. Bob came to Los Angeles to offer his business acumen to help advance MartiniInTheMorning.com - to help us become a more successful business. I met with Bob Friday afternoon, and invited him to come to our home in Woodland Hills to watch the Boise State Broncos play for a shot at a BCS Bowl Game. When we arrived at our home on Lockhurst Drive, there was a U-Haul truck in front of the house.
It was Bailey's U-Haul. That Thanksgiving was Bailey's last as a resident of her Mom and Dad's, mine and Karen's home. She was moving out. Actually, as I write this, she HAS moved out. Bailey is an avid skier and snowboarder. She has taken a job at Big Bear ski resort for an opportunity to paid to pursue her passion. She has moved to Big Bear, just 2 hours and 4-thousand feet from our home in Woodland Hills, CA, but she might as well be moving to the other side of the earth.
Tonight, Karen and I bought a Christmas tree. Not the 9 foot variety we bought in better days, but a Christmas tree nevertheless. It wasn't the diminutive, Charlie Brown-esque size of the Christmas tree that made it significant. It was the fact that for the first time in our 21 1/2 year marriage, we bought a Christmas tree without assistance and advice from kids. Hers, mine, ours. We are now empty-nesters, and our nest has its first tree not selected by kids, and the first tree that will not be the destination for gifts from Santa Claus, or gifts from Karen and me, to our five kids. It's our tree. Just ours. Karen will decorate it, take pictures, and use it as an example of her decorating expertise. Maybe it will bring some business to her antique store and design consultancy. For many years, selecting the tree, decorating it, seeing the smiles on the faces of Ryan, Callie, Nick, Nicole and Bailey, has been the raison d'etre for many a noble fir. Those trees have brought immense joy to our little family.
We had a tradition - that when everything else was on the tree, Dad held the youngest of the kids on his shoulders while they carefully placed the angel atop the tree. In better times, the trees were taller, requiring a trip up a ladder with kids that seemed to get really heavy around Christmas. I asked Karen tonight if we should forgo the angel. It doesn't seem right that there should be an angel atop the tree without one of the kids to do the honors. I'm writing this blog to put off the inevitable. Life goes on. I guess the angel does too.
We'll create new traditions. Karen and I have been partners through thick and thin. Karen has stood by me through a radio career with its ups and downs, a brief (and ill-advised) venture into the record business, and now into a promising yet struggling MartiniInTheMorning.com. Her friends are often surprised that unlike many antiquing widowers, I enjoy the frequent forays to flea markets, estate sales, and yard sales. Karen has taught me that one man's (or woman's) trash is another's treasure. She has built a business on her ability to tell one from the other. Despite her expertise in that area, she continues to treasure me, as I cherish her more today than yesterday. I will cherish her more tomorrow than today. Between now and then, we will place the angel on the tree. We will ooh and aah over the tree. And while this one era ends, another begins, as will new traditions and new adventures in what has been an interesting life. We will continue to be parents, we will relish our role as Grandparents, but more than anything else, we will return to where we started, our strength, as partners, lovers, best friends, and companions through what remains a life blessed with love, joy, triumphs and trials.
Time to put the angel on the tree. Karen has been carrying me through the MITM struggles. I guess it's my year to lift her to the top of the tree