Thanksgiving begins the season, a season we always look forward to. We’ve known since August that starting now, this was going to be a rough stretch. We kept up with our traditions because they bring us comfort and on the other hand, Robbie’s absence was also keenly felt as a response.Kate returned home Wednesday night, a day later than planned thanks to misbooking her train ticket. We welcomed her home nonetheless. Thursday morning was normally watching the parade but it got modified. I was at my desk reading through PDFs on a project and writing comments because I couldn’t find any other time to tackle it. Kate got up and began making the pumpkin pie (Deb fortunately made the crust the day before). As a result, I missed most of the first hour of the parade, which is always the Broadway filler until the bands arrive.I recall the days when we actually got to see the bands perform a complete song with their dance team but these days its part of a song with a voice over telling me which celebrities will be lip-synching their greatest hits in the next segment. For whatever reason, the lip-synching really got to me this year.At noon, we were all dressed, packed and ready. With the annual playing of “Alice’s Restaurant” on the CD, we headed south to Bob and Laurie’s. A house full of lovely people and too much food proved a great distraction. We were a little smaller in number than usual as Bob’s brother Richie and family were not present for a change. It did allow for more communal conversation throughout the day which was nice.Laurie planned three pounds of meat per person and once we tallied the desserts, we calculated there would be half a pie per person. While no one ate three pounds of meat, some likely ate their pie quota.The conversation lingered well past 10:30 and finally I called it a night. We headed to a nearby hotel and crashed.In the morning, I worked (of course) and we had a lazy morning as I also was downloading some of the $5 CDs from Amazon’s Black Friday sale. We finally wound up at a diner at 11 en route to Matt & Judy’s house. When we finally arrived, our friends Bonnie and her son Stephen were already there. We almost immediately sat down for…brunch. Too much food! We lingered and chatted and visited through the afternoon until it was time to go home.I’ll admit, Robbie was a constant presence the two days, but it wasn’t until I was in the car, heading there and back, that I felt crushed by the reality of the situation. Some of it is the natural grieving process and some of it is these rides were some of the most relaxed times I’ve had of late. The hours of work filling ComicMix in advance these last two weekends, my government responsibilities and the back half of Iron Man have meant lots of extra hours. I need to stay focused a few weeks more and then can slow up, right around December 15.