There is something very nuclear about a family, any family, and when you have a good collection of folks you call your family, you tend to feel better when they are around and feel a bit disconnected when they are not. In that way (and others), I have never felt like a step parent. Nonetheless, it is my reality and Emily is gone for the week visiting the man she calls her dad.
I am also a product of divorced parents so Emily and I have a lot in common. As a step parent, finding and exploiting commonality with our step kids is a real boon. If you are at either end of that equation, you know the dynamic. Finding commonality with our kids is not rare, but in a step relationship it often is. Therefore common experiences - whatever it may be - serve as critical building blocks for a productive relationship.
For those having to share their loved ones in a less than tenable situation this Thanksgiving, may peace be with you. And to Emily, travel safe and remember I love you.