Thanksgiving is behind us, and for that, I AM thankful. The out-of-towners were mostly well behaved. There are some simple truths with which I am faced when spending extended periods of time with my parents as an adult, especially when they’re in my space:
1) No matter how much I pick up, clean and prepare for their arrival, one parent will ALWAYS find the thing I overlooked (dusting, polishing of furniture, bleaching recycling bins, secret dirty sock stash under sons dresser)
2) No matter how much I may wish they would act as guests, my parents will always be my parents and capable of reducing me to the mental state of a seven year old just by speaking to me as their child rather than as a 40+ year old adult.
3) No matter how many years I have been responsible for all phases of the traditional family Thanksgiving or Christmas (same menu for each) dinner, when my folks are brought back into the event, I am dedicated as the screw-up who ruins everything.
Don’t get me wrong…the food was great! For the most part, everyone got along fine. My 95 year old Grandma joined my parents in the visit that lasted 10 days in our 3 bedroom house while my 9 year old twins still had a week of school before the holiday weekend. Grandma was surprisingly the most grown-up of the grownups in the house. I thought I was caught up on laundry before they arrived, but my mom, being the laundry diva she is, managed to find hidden laundry treasures to keep herself busy the whole time. When the piles started to wane, she got out the kids sock drawers and made Grandma help sort them.
My Dad got really irritated with me Thanksgiving morning because I made a cinnamon-roll cake for breakfast (I’d announced my intent to do so the night before) and he thought bacon should accompany it. I pointed out that bacon would take time and make a HUGE mess in a kitchen dedicated to cooking Thanksgiving dinner, so NO. I reminded him he’d bought several packs of little smokies that could easily be microwaved and would make everyone happy. It was the last he spoke to me for several hours. He spoke ABOUT me. He had MOM speak TO me on his behalf. He dramatically and blatantly ignored me, but nobody is under the impression he’s consistently a grown-up, right? I love the man, but when it comes to food, he’s off his rocker.
The real food issue came the night before T-day (we’ll call it T minus 12). Dad was getting ready for bed and came into the living room and offered to make the mashed potatoes and creamed peas/onions. I thanked him and said I’d be happy for him to do the potatoes, but in light of his experiment with vinegar with the peas and onions, I’d prefer to do them myself. He’d done that the last time Mike and I went to CA for Thanksgiving before we had kids (granted, it was 10 years ago, but it was the last time we’d been in their home for Thanksgiving dinner, so in my mind, it was a legitimate concern). He blew up. Called me a liar. Demanded that never happened and then stormed off to bed. Granted, I probably shouldn’t have brought it up, but since that’s the last time he’d made them that I’d been around to witness, it popped into my brain as a big red flag when he offered. I’ve been responsible for that particular holiday classic at all holiday dinners I’ve attended or hostessed since 2005. I’m pretty good at it by now.
By the time Dad got up the next morning, I was on the receiving end of his ignoring and he was trying to be ‘cute’ to anyone else to prove he was ignoring just me. I tried making small talk and he’d respond in one or two word sentences with no eye contact…then the bacon issue at which time the small talk ended abruptly. Really, it doesn’t surprise me any more. I’ve seen this behavior for the better part of 40 years. What irked me was that Mom and my sister kept whispering to me that I needed to go hat-in-hand and beg him to make the peas/onions so he’d feel better about the day. That’s not my style, and I got really upset that the two of them kept trying to stop me from talking with HIM about it. I’m a pretty direct person, so the beat-around-the-bush/gossipy approach really doesn’t work for me. When I’d had enough of the women’s council, I went into the dining room to speak with him directly. I got scolded by both hens and my hubby for mentioning the unmentionable, so I left. Had it. Done.
That was our holiday drama.
A high school friend of mine had passed away the day before Thanksgiving. Mom and Dad had talked with her parents this summer before she went in for heart surgery, and she’d contacted me via Facebook. I kept thinking of her family and how they’d give anything to have one more day with her, and then I thought about my ‘guests’ creating drama over peas and onions. It all seemed ludicrous to me. I guess it really comes down to perspective. For some, the holiday is about being thankful for the gifts we’ve been given. For others, it really just boils down to food 😦