Leading up to Thanksgiving, each day I will blog about what I’m doing to be more grateful. I invite you to join me in a Month of Thanksgiving, and to share your thoughts, observations, suggestions and ideas.
Day 28: Giving thanks for my family
The New York Times had an article earlier this week about breathtakingly bad behavior family members put each other through on Thanksgiving.
These days, Nancy Cardozo, a Brooklyn writer, is long married with children of her own. But some years ago, when she was a 19-year-old nanny, she was looking after 14-year-old twins during their parents’ absence at Thanksgiving. Ms. Cardozo took the twins to dinner at the home of her employers’ friends, whom she did not know.
“Food gets served, plates are passed around,” she said. “There’s a pause. I’m thinking they’re going to say grace or something. The mom takes a long breath and howls, ‘You never loved me!’ ”
Ms. Cardozo was horrified — she thought a fight was going to break out. The woman’s husband clutched his knife and fork as if contemplating murder. But their children just rolled their eyes as if this were an everyday, if ludicrous, event, and started eating. Soon, so did the husband and wife and the guests.
For those of you who are bracing for something awkward or miserable on Thursday, I’m sorry.
Fortunately, I feel pretty grateful for my family.
I’ll be spending Thanksgiving in New York, with all of my family back in Michigan. So I’m giving thanks long distance for:
- My dad. Dad and I weren’t especially close when I was growing up. I think he always felt a little ripped off that I was a girl. He tried his best to get me to play softball and watch football with him, but it didn’t work. Still, he’s made a real effort to cultivate a relationship with me in recent years. We’ve even convinced him to visit us a few times in New York. He proudly took video of me in my office to show his girlfriend back home. He’s even taken to emailing me pretty regularly. I have my dad to thank for my interest in the news, and now he has me to thank for nagging him into getting high-speed Internet and for introducing him to the Kindle.
- My cousins. I couldn’t be much more different from my cousins in some ways. My aunt had six kids who all stayed in our hometown and went into the drywall business. Many of them moved out into the small farm towns surrounding Saginaw, and they like to go farther up north to vacation at rustic cabins. They prefer the quiet beauty of the woods to the hustle-bustle of the city. But while I don’t think I could pay them a million dollars to move to New York, they’ve shown such support and interest in my move here. After I graduated from business school and we were getting ready to move to New York, they threw us a going away party and asked all about my new job and what Manhattan’s like. I’m kind of an oddball at our family gatherings — the big-city vegetarian among my cousins who hunt and fish — but they always make me feel totally loved and welcomed, and they’ve extended that to John, too. They’re planning their annual Christmas party around us so we can fly back to be there.
- My aunt. My mom had two sisters and they were like the Three Amigos at family events. My mom and one of her sisters died several years ago, leaving one amigo to herself. She’s our family matriarch, the one who knows which second cousin lives where and what the story was about that great aunt. My mom was the baby of the family, many years younger than her sisters, so my aunt was my stand-in at grandparents day at elementary school several times. When my mom died, she organized the whole estate sale so I didn’t have to. Last year I mentioned not having made any Christmas cookies and shortly thereafter I got a box loaded with cookies in the mail. Not many people bake as well as my aunt.
When I get homesick for Michigan, it’s often a combined mix of missing dear friends and the connection to family. Because thankfully, I’ve never had an ugly scene at a family dinner like the ones described in the Times.
Who in your family are you grateful for? Have you told them?