Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because I get to spend so much time with my family. But like any family tradition, ours definately has it's quirks.
My Aunt and Uncle are generous enough to host Thanksgiving every year. They have a nice home about 50 miles from where I live and although it seems like a long trek, I don't mind going. Especially when I consider the fact that my cousin drives from Saramento, my other Aunt and Uncle come in from Carson City, and my sister from LA.
I think it was last year, though, when things started to get a little odd. My sister asked if she could invite an "orphan" couple (the term orphan being used to describe people who do not have available family to spend the holiday with) with whom she and her husband are very close friends. These folks are like family to us. She was told that there was not enough room to accomodate any additional people. Although I can't remember for certain, I may also have asked to bring a friend but was turned down. My mom asked what she and her then fiancee could bring and was asked to provide cash, $40 to help cover the expenses and meat. My mom and her fiancee are vegetarians and are unable to eat 60% of the Thanksgiving fare.
Durning dinner, my Aunt's brother in law loudly complained that Grace was not said. Being a mixed group, we don't often say grace, although my grandfather will often do so at smaller functions. This action caused a lot of confusion and hurt feelings, especially since I don't recall this man ever attending the festivities before. After dinner, my Grandmother requested some leftovers for sandwiches the next day and was refused, on the grounds that my Aunt likes LOTS of leftovers.
This year, my Aunt requested that I bring or (gasp!!) buy an apple pie. (I never buy apple pie. I MAKE apple pie. I'm very proud of the compliments I get on my apple pie. I don't eat it, but I hear it's very tasty) And be there about noon, as we would be eating early. Rare occation (for a party), I was late. The moms were all in the kitchen (except mine, who was running late as usual, but in her defense, she had to work yesterday morning) and I dropped my pie where I was told, and gave my Aunt the coffee I had brought as a nicey-nice. I thought she might appriciate it, but she acted as though she didn't really want it. (my Uncle, on the other hand, seemed very happy to hear that I had brought free harbucks) I then wandered around looking for someone to talk to. I'm in an awkward spot in the family. I'm not a sibling or wife, I'm a neice. But not a young neice. There are two sets of kids in my family.I call them the older set and the younger set. My Sister, Cousin, and I are the older set, being 33, 31, and 29. The younger set consists of my Sister and Brother, younger cousins and my older cousin's kids, all of whom are 20,18,16,14,10,8, and 5. Of the older set, I am the only one not married. I never really know quite where I belong at these functions. Since my sister and cousin were not there, I was a little lost.
Fast forward to turkey carving time. I took my customary place at the carcass and nimbly picked while my uncle carved. Suddenly, my aunt had something for me to do. By the time I was done, so was my uncle, and she was able to save the bones from my nibbling fingers (why, after 20 or so years of picking the bones it is suddenly not ok is beyond me. But the attitude was such, believe me. It's not like I was eating anything that could have gone on the platter.)
We started eating, despite the fact that my mom had not arrived (she was stuck in traffic. She made sure that she called with periodic updates) and about 5 minutes later, the Brother in Law was asked if he would like to say grace. He replied, "Why yes. I had thought we were going to be heathens and forget that it is Thanksgiving!" I will offer that the grace he gave was very nice, but I almost responded that I like being a heathen. We all give thanks in our own way, and I like to think that despite my religious leanings, I am thankful for the good life that I lead and all the blessings I am given. I'm not so sure that next year I will be able to control my mouth. Maybe it's a good thing it was full of mashed potatoes during grace.
My mom and brother arrived a few minutes later. Things were normal until dessert where we were served my my Aunt's sister who, it turns out, was licking her fingers and the cutlery in between pie pieces. for some reason, we were not allowed to serve ourselves.
It turns out that my mom was asked to bring money again. My Aunt's sister took home leftovers. We left feeling like we weren't altogether welcome. All of us.
We congregated on the condo that my Aunt and Uncle obtained for my grandparents (which is very nice of them. this is the second year they have provided this, and it is noce to know that my grandparents are comfortable during thier stay) where we all tried to puzzle out the eveninga nd the feeling we all get from it. Next year, my mom wants to have dinner at her house and invite all our orphans. The more the merrier, as it should be.
I don't know what will happen. I know that I will go along with whatever my family does because I don't want to miss out on any time with them. I just hope that next year I leave feeling a bit more like I am welcome the next year. and not like an annoying inconvienece.
I'm finally sleepy again.