‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving - the real version

I have deliberated for days whether to share this or not. On the one hand, it's totally airing my family's undergarments. On the other hand, I know we're not alone in this and maybe, just maybe, it will help someone.

No one actually wants to hear about your Thanksgiving when they ask how it was, so I've been going around saying it was great. Which is completely not true.

In the pro column, we had a small gathering of family and adopted family. My mom lives 2 hours from here, so I picked her up the day before and made her stay a couple days before driving her back.

From here out, I'm going to thinly veil this by calling our mothers Grandmother A and Grandmother B. That way one of them doesn't get profiled as an unspeakable jerk. Which one of them was.

In Grandmother A's defense, she hurt her back recently and is on painkillers. She struggles with memory anyway, and the painkillers made her even more confused. The confusion came out as antagonism.

(I am sugar-coating this. She is really good at being antagonistic, even on a good day.)

Nothing was right for her. She hated the cheese on the relish tray. We'd hand her something to try and she'd yell at us. And then she'd complain that no one was giving her anything to eat.

Grandmother B did like the relish tray, and was eating off the cheese knife. Fortunately for all of us, dinner was ready.

Because of the painkillers, I offered Grandmother A ginger ale. She made a face at me, so I listed the other options.

"I don't give a damn what you give me," she said.

That pretty much sums up dinner.

Grandmother B and our guest were horrified. Unable to deal with the sniping (though not directed at her), Grandmother B prayed loudly throughout dinner.

It was... great.

I couldn't resist sneaking off and sending World's Worst Thanksgiving texts to my sister, who found them hilarious. (Don't worry - her shift is coming up soon.)

In actuality, it wasn't the World's Worst Thanksgiving - by a long shot. We had plenty of food, a roof over our heads and - for the most part - each other. I worry about the kids, but the kids were only worried about getting the right kind of pie.

Intellectually, I know that Grandmother A left the building a long time ago. She's in a sort of survival mode, in which nothing is filtered. We're told she doesn't mean half of what she says (although she may truly hate Stilton with cranberries). Knowing that she won't remember what she said 5 minutes from now doesn't help as much as it should. I catch myself wincing when I hear her voice.

I cannot, however, say that she ruined Thanksgiving. You can't ruin Thanksgiving for anyone but yourself.

And that's what I came away with. Grandmother A sent the appearance of a nice Thanksgiving up in flames, but she couldn't touch the real thing.

Despite aggressively grumpy appearances, we have much to be grateful for.


Greg said...

This post was lovely. Life is always so complicated and messy, isn't it? Gratitude helps one to get through it, but so does Pie. Which kinds did you have?

All Adither said...

You're more positive than I would've been. It sounds pretty bad.

Anonymous said...

Your kids are good sports.

Tara said...

Oh yes. I've been there. Great Aunty who's memory exited stage left some time ago is just like that. She claimed she's on a special diet becauce her doctor told her she can't eat butter or fat or bread or anything yummy. So at Christmas a few years ago we made a special effort to make her a special meal that she could eat without breaking doctors orders. She sulked because "we don't think she's good enough to eat what everyone else is having". Fun times. I love her dearly though. Grumpy old bag.

Celia said...

My phone ATE my comment. Annyhow girl my mother is kookoo for coco puffs. She HATED my imported Irish cheddar and very primly said she would just eat a dry cracker. She also sighs..just audibly enough and then does this self pitying chuckle thing. On the plus side we can totally count on Mom to announce repeatedly that she "likes the dark meat, it is more tender, it is juicy" etc etc while we snicker because we are 12 year old boys. She asked for a drink( she can't have alcohol) and my husband offered her water, coffee, milk, or cider. She sighed and said "never mind. " Because WE FORGOT SHE LIKES DIET PEPSI. THE HORROR. It is really hard to describe, kind of like Marie from Everybody Loves Raymond but with more health problems. My favorite thing she said this year was " oh no dear, I would never expect you to do Christmas like Grandma."

Susan said...

I love you people. I really, really do.

(pumpkin and pecan, Greg)

twobusy said...

I'm not sure I understand this whole "Thanksgiving without grudges" concept. Sounds unnatural to me.

Candace said...

I loved this, Susan. I felt tired and strained just reading it. You are a saint, and perhaps writing about it saved your head from exploding.

Good luck with Christmas! xo