Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving Meltdown

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday of mine. It comes in a close third behind Halloween and Christmas. As a kid there was nothing better than waking up off from school on - let's face it - a random Thursday with the whole house smelling like turkey and stuffing. My sisters and I would stay up the night before with my mom breaking apart bread for the stuffing. It was more about chatting and goofing around than really helping. All Thanksgiving day we would kind of just hang around the house and eat snacks or go outside and play with friends. In the afternoon my grandparents and aunts and uncles would cram into our tiny Southwest Philly rowhouse and get down on my mom's awesome turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and other goodness. Mom always made creamed onions for my grandmom and lima beans for my granddad and I would share with them because I loved that stuff too. Then we'd sit around and watch football and eat pie with whipped cream. I'd doze off listening to my granddad remembering Thanksgiving football games from a hundred years ago and my Uncle Tim and my dad good naturedly driving each other crazy.

This is still Thanksgiving at my mom's. They moved out of the old neighborhood and I've never lived in the house they have now. There are different faces at the table as we kids now all have spouses or significant others. There are always a few college students who couldn't make it home and my mom makes sure her house is home to anyone who needs it. There are faces missing from the table. My brothers and baby sister are in California and my big sister is in Spain - and none of them will make it home. Both of my grandparents are gone but we still have lima beans and creamed onions on the table (mostly because I ask for them). Uncle Tim still takes pictures of food and has too much fun annoying my dad.

I love Thanksgiving for these reasons. I love to be in the kitchen talking about nothing and everything with my sisters and aunts, pretending to help my mom but really just eating cheese and crackers and drinking wine. I love to sit next to my dad and listen to him yell at the TV over a football game he doesn't really care about but still, "that's not the play you wanted!". The madness and the noise and the smells and dear Lord the STUFFING. Even though I've never lived in that house, all of that is home to me. I haven't lived at home for almost 10 years. I have my own home, a husband, and a baby on the way and still, being at my mom's on Thanksgiving is just being home. It's HOME in a larger sense than being in the house where I grew up. It's everything warm and familiar.

Thanksgiving this year is making my head explode, probably in much the same way as it does for most married people. It has never been an issue for us before because Frank was working or I was working or my parents were off visiting my far flung siblings or my mother in law had other plans. It has always worked out so that there has never had to be an actual decision about where to spend Thanksgiving. This year, not so much. I'm off for Thanksgiving and so is Frank. My parents are staying in town and doing it up, Frank's mom has no other plans and would like us to come to her house. There is also the matter that my parents will be out of town on Christmas so this is really the only holiday I get with them this year.

Obviously, I want to go to my parents'. What else would be the point of the Norman Rockwell picture I painted for you a few paragraphs ago? On the other hand, I haven't seen Frank's mom since the summer and he's her only child and dear God the guilt of not going to her house on Thanksgiving. (Not that she guilts me, because she doesn't. Ever.) I tried getting her to come to my parents' house - we're all family after all - but she didn't love that idea. I've been trying to work out some kind of dinner here, dessert there scenario but I can't get it to make sense because either I'm leaving my mother in law alone on Thanksgiving until dessert, or I'm going to my mom's already having eaten and therefore unable to eat all her delicious holiday goodness - because I certainly can't get away with not eating at my mother in law's Thanksgiving dinner. I really could do the second scenario because my mother in law likes to have her holiday dinners at like 3 in the afternoon so there would be plenty of time to get to my folks' 6pm dinner. But then we're just abandoning her after dinner.

We're all going to ignore the brattiness of my not taking into account where home might be for Frank and that maybe he wants to see his mother on Thanksgiving.

I don't know what to do. I don't want to hurt any body's feelings and I don't want to leave anyone out. I'm resisting the urge to just throw a tantrum and demand my way. Lora is having super-duper-boycott-Thanksgiving-family-stress-day at her house and that's looking like a pretty attractive option right now.

I just want stuffing and biscuits and my mom's couch.


Lora said...

dave and i never spent holidays together if we both had something to do pre-jake. he would go do his thing and i would go do mine and we would meet at home later that night and talk about the ludicrousness that ensued at both places.

why do you have to spend it together? going two places gives you one last t-giving as a "kid" at your moms house. this year you can hang out in the kitchen and giggle and help cook and eat. next year you'll be changing diapers and wiping snots and feeding the brat. it won't be the same, trust me.

this gives frank one last shot with just him and his mom, because that is all about to change too.


problem solved, everyone goes home happy. and neither one of you is bitter at the other one for dragging them somewhere you don't want to go.

then friday night (or your next night off) you and frank can have a romancy dinner and actually enjoy each other and think about all you have to be thankful for in the next year

Rinny said...

I like Lora's idea, or can you do two Thanksgivings? One on Thursday, one on Friday? Regardless you do what works best for you and Frank. It is the last one of sheer selfish "I want-isms". At least that is how I see it. :)