Celebrating 5 whole @*^&#! days of acrimonious extended-family traditional gatherings to kick off the festive season.
We’re all so excited that the entire family is coming to visit us for Thanksgiving! We don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like, but at this time of the year, the families like to makes the extra effort.
I do wish we saw each other more often, but everyone is so busy with work and family matters. It’s a shame all the children, especially, don’t see each other all the time.
My family is hosting the holiday, as usual, so we’re busy cleaning and baking and cooking. We’re expecting my parents, my brother, his wife and 2 children, my husband’s recently-divorced sister and her 2 girls, and Uncle Glen, my dad’s much younger brother. My relatives will be staying overnight as they’re travelling from out of town.
My sister-in-law and her kids live nearby and will probably only stay all day on Thursday. All the children and their cousins get along really well! We should really plan to do this more often other than only at Thanksgiving. Maybe one weekend every month?
✥ Day One ~ Tuesday
First arrivals! My parents, who only live an hour from here, and who’ve visited us at least 25 times over the past 8 years, missed the exit again off I-95. They have a GPS unit, but still call us to ask which number to exit off the highway (every single time) and then still don’t take our directions. I had to stop what I was doing to go drive and find them and then escort them to the house. So the ham is a bit overdone.
My brother showed up soon after with his wife and her three children. I didn’t realize the 16 year old was coming with them. In fact, he specifically said she was staying with her biological father because she hates my brother (her step-father) and they argue all the time. The two younger children, who are around the same age as mine, were all going to camp out in the living room. My parents would take the guest room, my brother and his wife would take one of the children’s rooms, and Uncle Glen take my other kid’s room. I hope she won’t mind camping out on the living room floor with the younger kids.
My husband’s going to get Uncle Glen from the train station tomorrow. He isn’t allowed to fly anymore, not since his drunken altercation with some United flight attendants two years ago.
It’s so great having everyone together…
✥ Day Two ~ Wednesday
“Becca, you’re so fat! Don’t you think you should get rid of the baby fat now? I mean, the “baby” is 6 years old.”
Why does my mother feel it’s her duty to point out every time she sees me that I’m fat? Does she think I’m going to be the same weight as I was 20 years ago? She already spent the first 25 years of my life telling me how skinny I was. Since her arrival yesterday, she’s complained about the cold weather, the fact that I don’t use salt or butter in my cooking, and how little my children eat.
“I’m not fat, Mom,” I respond in my defense. “I’m just middle aged. I have other things to do than worry about being overweight right now too.”
I drain the red wine from my glass. My second glass.
“I work full time and I have children to care for,” I add.
“So did I!” my mother pipes up. “But I wasn’t fat! You eat too much junk food!”
“I never eat junk food!” I whip around as I shout at her. “What the heck are you talking about? Have you EVER seen me eat junk food?” In my annoyance, I almost drop the cherry pies I’m putting into the oven.
My mother shrugs. “I dunno.”
Why must she piss me off this way all the time? She always make these pronouncements that sound like fact, then when you ask a follow up question, she innocently responds with “I dunno.”
I pour out another glass of wine.
✥ Day Three ~ Thursday
“But I don’t see why I must sit at the same table as the little kids!”
“Because we don’t have enough chairs at the main dining table! You weren’t supposed to be here, remember?”
My brother and his 16 year-old stepdaughter are locking horns again. Last night it was about camping out in the living room with the youngsters and now it’s about where to sit for Thanksgiving dinner.
She is unrelenting. “I am not sitting with those babies!” she screamed.
Her mother jumps in. “Enough, Arianna! Sit at the table with the other children or you won’t eat at all!”
With a huff, Arianna lets out a “I hate all of you!!” and storms out of the room.
Quick as a flash, my mother speaks up. “Spoiled brat! My children would never have spoken to me like that! Would they, Harvey?” She seeks confirmation from my father, who quickly lowers his head and shovels some food into his mouth.
“Can you stay out of it, Mom?” my brother hisses.
But she continues. “I’m just saying, if she had a good ass-whooping, she’s be put in her place.”
“Stay out of it, Mom!” he yells. “Stop being so contentious!”
His wife eyes my mom, head cocked to one side. “Are you saying I don’t know how to raise my children, Mrs. Smith? What do you know about my house?”
My brother buries his face in his hands. “Can we just let it go?” he implores.
Uncle Glen interjects, addressing my sister-in-law. “Nadia, I see you’ve finally gotten rid of that no-good husband of yours. Are you back on the market? I’m looking for a good woman, you know, and I’ve been watching you year after year…”
My husband is mortified. “Uncle Glen, come on! You’re almost twice her age and she’s family!”
“Not my family!” he drawls, downing the rest of his wine. “She’s a vibrant, sexy young thing. I’m a man, she’s a woman…”
“Okay…okay…just stop that now!” my husband sputters.
Nadia winks at him and responds: “Any time you’re ready, Uncle Glen, any time!” And she shoves a forkful of potato salad in her mouth.
Uncle Glen nods at her and raises his wine glass. “Are you staying over tonight, Nadia?”
My mom, ever ready, jumps in at this juncture.
“Glen!” she admonishes, “Every year you’re always hitting on Nadia. What’s wrong with you?”
Uncle Glen queries: “What are you talking about, Phyllis? When have I ever hit on Nadia before?”
My mom shrugs: “I dunno.”
✥ Day Four ~ Friday
I wake up early to start preparing breakfast for my guests. I walk through the living room to get to the kitchen and take note of all the children in sleeping bags on the floor: my two, my brother’s two, Nadia’s two. On the sofa, snoring hard under a mountain of blankets, is Arianna.
I bask in the calmness of the house. Sounds of slumber. I love it.
The door to Uncle Glen’s sleeping quarters opens. Out walks Nadia wearing a man’s t-shirt. Our eyes meet and my mouth drops open.
“Hey,” she nods to me and goes into the bathroom.
✥ Day Five ~ Saturday
My husband was not pleased yesterday to learn his sister had spent the night in Uncle Glen’s room. An argument ensued between brother and sister, resulting in Nadia telling her brother to mind his own damn business. She was a big girl, she insisted, then jumped in her car and drove off before lunch. Her children will spend the rest of the weekend with us.
My brother and his family drove home last evening. His step-daughter kept whining that she was too bored to stay in my house any longer and she missed her boyfriend, her friends, and her own dad. My mom then remarked to my brother’s wife that she should have better control of her children, or maybe she shouldn’t have had any. At this point, they piled everyone in the minivan and drove home. They took Uncle Glen to the train station, as a favor to us. It was probably for the best.
Today my parents are driving home. We’ve given them directions (again) on how to get to the interstate highway, but I have my mobile phone with me for when they call after they’ve missed the turn.
Thank god everyone’s gone now! This was so stressful! Why would anyone do this year after year?
2 thoughts on “Five Days of Thanksgiving”
Fabulous. Today four of my five siblings met to celebrate my birthday (a week or so ahead of time). We had lunch and then they went home. Three hours of extended family is wonderful. Five days would be murder! I simply loved your piece. Congratulations on a wonderful piece of writing!
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Thanks so much for your kind words! I feel the same way: one day is great, anything more than that and swords are drawn 🙂