Thanksgiving is upon us once more, and I for one love it. A holiday about food? What’s not to love? But family holidays are never that simple, are they? I have three siblings, all of whom sat at the kids table in the living room at my grandmother’s house. We all eavesdropped on the adults talking and laughing at the kitchen table. We paid closer attention when the adults would suddenly switch to French and wished we knew why they would start laughing harder. I think that’s why my older sisters took French in high school so we could figure out what they were talking about. Of course the joke was on us. They were studying France French and my family is French Canadian, so that was just about as helpful as me taking Spanish. We all had the same holiday experience, but as we grew up, we had very different reactions. My sister Sharon and I love, love, love Thanksgiving and Christmas, and for many years sought to replicate the larger number of guests my grandmother had at her table, usually around 15 adults and kids. My other sister Julie and brother Mark could live their lives happily never celebrating another holiday ever again. As a matter of fact Julie made it official when she became a Jehovah Witness at age 20—they don’t celebrate anything, except wedding anniversaries. There’s a reason for that, but since it wasn’t Thanksgiving or Christmas, I can’t remember it. But even before she converted, the holidays for her were about as fun and getting poked in the eye with a broken wishbone. My brother shares her eye pain.
For years Sharon and I puzzled and puzzled about this until our puzzlers were sore—how could we be so sharply divided when we’d all had the same experience, which didn’t include any deal breakers like drunken yelling, burned food or fisticuffs? The rest of our family days weren’t always so fabulous, but Thanksgiving and Christmas were consistently good. Finally Sharon and I gave up and just concentrated on beefing up our Thanksgiving numbers to make up for the loss of Julie and Mark. And then at some later point, once we determined that my son was in our camp (it seemed like it might be genetic, so we worried), we just gave in to whatever happened, making gobs of food whether we had seven people or 12. We have abided.
In addition to a sister, son, and parents who love Thanksgiving, a brother-in-law and sister-in-law who tolerate our excessive foodie ways, and a brother and sister who do what’s right for them, here is a very incomplete list of other random things I’m very thankful for in this moment:
- The times I woke up at the right time and realized I’d forgotten to set my alarm.
- Having a number of good bosses in my career, including one who originated one of my favorite phrases, “I can be flexible when I’m forced to be!”
- Realizing as teenagers there was a reason the stop sign we wanted to steal was so big—it was a dangerous intersection. Undeterred we stuck to signs of street names.
- Still being friends with said fellow thieves in the previous bullet.
- Having a smart, nerdy gamer son because I really don’t like watching sports outside, in rinks, or really anywhere.
- My crochet teacher who taught me how to cover up mistakes and called it “hiding the dead bodies.”
- All the people who read, follow, and comment on this blog–without you I’m just writing stuff on my computer.
- And a thousand other things big and small, which are all in my head, but hard to find because I don’t have Google for my brain.
Here’s wishing you all the Thanksgiving you can live with. And if you need a place to go, we’re still four short of 15.
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