so it's thanksgiving. again. funny how when the holidays come around it feels as if they were just here. what the hell happened to 4th of july? did we even have halloween? i can't remember halloween!
and every year as we're pushing through the crowds at the market, hoisting the turkey into the cart, checking items off our list, and seeing the sour looks of the people around us i always turn to my husband and say, 'next year, we're going away for thanksgiving. just us.'
and we never do. because thanksgiving is our favorite holiday and because the boybarians love it and because i think we signed some sort of contract in hell, in blood, and maybe even a little plasma, that we are bound by.for.the.rest.of.our.lives.
so it's not surprising that it's this time of year i most miss having a matriarch of the family. when i'm gathering all the serving platters, and planning the menu, and pulling out the tablecloths and assigning chores to the boybarians, coordinating who will bring what, worried there won't be enough of anything, tired by tuesday evening and wishing it was already over. but with two days and the big event left to go.
i remember going to my grandmother's house on holidays. the table was already set, everything in its place, snacks set out, ready. it seemed so effortless, really. at least to a little kid like me. like it was no big deal.
i'll tell you what was a big deal was that damned tomato aspic with the gollop (yes. it's a word. even if i made it up.) of mayonnaise on top. and not even best foods brand name mayo. the cheap store brand. not that it really mattered. or would help. bleh. all the kids were expected to eat it. all of it. i thought my grandmother loved me, but that aspic really makes me question a LOT. to this day i just can't think of it without getting really really angry.
anyway, now that i'm doing holidays, have been doing them all these years, i realize that it wasn't effortless. that it was and is always a lot of work. but i am lucky to have the best husband in the world, who is also a fabulous cook, so it's not just me on my own. and i've got help from the boybarians, too. guess who WON'T be mopping THREE rooms of 100 year old wood floors (and one room of laminate wood flooring. it looks good though! really! not all tacky like some of that laminate can look!) OR washing windows this thanksgiving!!! nice.
and yes, my extended family appreciates all of the effort and says so. and i appreciate that. so if you have a moment on thursday, go and kiss the cook. or at least give them a hearty handshake or a slap on the back. offer to do a dish. or take out the trash. or get them high. i don't know, whatever it takes to show your appreciation because it will be much appreciated.
okay, so it sounds like i'm complaining. but i'm not. okay, that's a lie. i'm complaining a little. i was hefting furniture about last night trying to figure out how to seat 14 in a place meant for 6. because this year i want everyone at the same table. and i figured out how to make ONE big table. but not before dragging everything (including a door and 4 sawhorses. don't ask. didn't work. had to take them back down. oy.) out of the basement to try and construct the ONE big table.
i figured it out! of course there's no personal space to speak of, and once you're seated you can't get up again. ever. but what's a holiday with family if you're not all trapped and sweaty?
and while it's a lot of work, if i didn't enjoy it i wouldn't do it. okay, that's a lie, too. i do a hell of a lot of things i don't enjoy. but that i *pretend* to enjoy. i have two kids, have been married twice, and am related to crazy people. i've had a LOT of practice.
all right, where am i going with this?
oh yeah. family.
and that's why i do it. and ultimately i love doing it. my family. from my own little foursome to all the rest of them.
the past few years have seen some changes in my extended family dynamic. and some changes in my own little family. and because of that, as this year draws to a close THANK YOU GOD IT CAN'T COME SOON ENOUGH! i am reminded that when push comes to shove maybe they aren't who you would have chosen, but they are there. your family. and it seems a trite thing to say, especially this time of year, but it's what you got.
oh sure, toxic relatives and all that aside. sometimes there are issues and they must be dealt with properly. there are some people you simply cannot gather together with. in some cases restraining orders making it legally impossible to do so.
the rest of them? that's what you got. flesh and blood and crazy and all. and just so you know, they probably think you're as whack as you think they are. but that's what you got. did i say that already? and there's a reason for everything. even that weirdo you share DNA with seated to your left.
or perhaps you've pulled off the greatest escape and share your holidays with NO ONE who is remotely blood related to you. there are all kinds of ways to be a family.
so i say this year look around whatever table you've happened to gather at. whether it's your flesh and blood for life family, the one you married or got folded into, the one you've created over time and distance, or just this year's thanksgiving dinner family, look around and just be thankful to be a part. to share this meal on this day with these people. find one thing to be grateful for in each person seated around you.
because eventually each one of those seats will become empty and there just won't be the chance.
and life is just too damned short, and getting shorter still, to not take a moment to look around and be grateful. even it's just one day out of the year.
and even if you have to pretend.
it's worth it in the end.