Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday. I’m all for taking time to give thanks for that which we are grateful, but shouldn’t we be doing that every day?
Instead, this holiday just seems like a lot of work for just one short day (as opposed to Christmas, which really seems to last for a whole month). And as a day that is all about the meal, it’s not a good time for someone who loves food and yet regrets every bite she eats. I spent most of my adolescence weighing fifty pounds more than I do now and, while I have never gained that weight back in the ten years since I lost it (not including during my pregnancy), I will never stop worrying about, fearing it, and feeling guilty for the calories I consume.
I once loved Thanksgiving, and every other holiday. As a kid, we always spent it with my mom’s family, and my grandparents’ home was filled with food, and games, and laughter, and a lot of people. But then things started to change. My grandma died. And my uncle. And my grandpa. And my cousin. My family dwindled and those of who were left kind of grew apart (and some of us even turned on each other). Our glue that held us together was gone. And so now Thanksgiving (and Christmas, for that matter) is a sad, quiet holiday and, even though I have a child of my own now and even if I am so lucky to some day be able to fill our home with multiple children, it will never be the same.
And this year, for the first time since my freshman year of college at USF eleven years ago, I spent the holiday away from my own immediate family. That’s because, this year, we went to the in-laws, a six hour drive away (a six hour drive, I will tell you, that became a TEN hour drive, thanks to traffic). It was time, because we have never spent a holiday with them in the seven years that I have been with my husband, but it was strange and different and not something we plan to do often (thankfully, Honey is more than okay with this).
My in-laws, while very nice people with good intentions, are the kind of folks that one can only take in small doses. Especially my mother-in-law (Honey’s stepmom). She means well, but she’s high strung and much too strict with my daughter and she lacks the flexibility that house guests sometimes require. I think we disappointed her a little because much of the food she made for Thanksgiving (she insisted on doing all the cooking) was not something we could eat. I don’t eat red meat, and yet the stuffing (which is normally my favorite Thanksgiving dish) had sausage. My honey doesn’t eat mushrooms, nuts, or olives, so the stuffing, jello salad, and stuffed olives were out for him. And my daughter is nut- and dairy-free at this point, which basically excluded everything at the table except the turkey. We did not mean to be difficult, but if she had asked for my input, I could have advised her on what we can and cannot have. And this was only one of the problems we encountered during our short stay with them!
My MIL did ask me how I was doing (in reference to our miscarriage), which was a surprise since she has not inquired about any such thing since we broke the news to them about our loss in April. She saw my necklace and inquired about it and when I told her the meaning, she then went on to ask how I am. She gave me a hug and told me she can’t understand what it’s like, but that she feels for me. She also said she hasn’t asked before because she doesn’t want to bring up all the sad feelings. Which is the same thing my sis has told me and, if I could, I would tell them both that they are doing me no service by pretending nothing has happened. The sadness is always there. I have not forgotten about my loss or my infertility. Mentioning it does not make it worse, it shows you care. That’s what I would say, if I needed their support, but I have realized now I really don’t. I have you guys. And that’s enough.
So that’s the story of my pitiful Thanksgiving. What about you? Any good in-laws anecdotes you’d like to share?