Thanksgiving Shadows

Thanksgiving will be over within the next fifteen minutes. All in all it was a good day. I awoke early to get the cooking started which was quite a feat since I didn’t get to sleep until 3AM. I even got to watch some (most) of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. First off I baked the pies, moved onto the stuffing and then the bird. I realized I cooked it at too high a heat but I think that I came by that mistake honestly. I seem to remember my mother saying – year after year – “the bird cooked so quickly.” I wonder if she, as I did this morning, cooked the bird at 350 instead of 325 degrees.

It was all right in the end.

So the turkey temp was the first memory/shadow. The second was a diaphanous gray curtain just outside my field of vision all day. Wait, perhaps it was the first. Yes, it was first. I dreamed of ice and snow again just before waking. I think I was trying to get to love. Getting to love over an icy pond. Getting to family over an icy pond.

All that trying made me tired.

This was the first huge dinner I had cooked in sometime. The turkey was organic (YES it does make a difference), delicious and plenty for everyone and left overs. The boys, Mel and the kids had a good time. We barely missed the fact that Nanny didn’t call to wish us well. We didn’t miss the call from the sibs MIA in the family wars; their silence is second nature to us now.

Mel has done substantial research on the family tree and the screwed up family dynamics are not unique to this generation. It goes way way back. On my mother’s side: her mother, my beloved “Baba” was illigitimate and given away at 8 (yes you read that correctly) to clean and work for a distant relative. On my father’s side we know more (they had been in this country longer – long enough for the dysfunction to actually be documented in federal census records): my father’s father – my grandfather was raised by his grandfather (are you following) his father, initials WW, for some reason abdicated responsibility. So it should come as no surprise that when my father’s biological mother died, his father remarried a woman who apparently had issues. Her dislike of my father led to his running away to join the circus at the tender age of 8. Yes you read that correctly -8.

So my mother was mothered by a woman who had no childhood; my father was fathered by a father whose own father had left him at his grandparents doorstep. Is it any wonder that neither of my parents knew how to parent or how to build a strong and supportive family unit?

When I was growing up holidays were always dicey. It was either family issues, money issues or, in later years, my father’s increasing depression. The ultimate holiday joy death knell was my father’s death in 1968 the day before Thanksgiving. That pretty much insured that my mother would never enjoy another holiday. And she didn’t.

After 1968 when the light began to change from fall’s golden color to winter’s silver my mother would begin sighing. “I hate this time of year.” “I don’t want anything; holidays don’t matter.” When the grandchildren came she brightened just abit, but by that time the sibling drama had begun to play out on the holiday stage. So really, she might have been more engaged in the process, but her emotions, never overly warm, were kept more deeply in check.


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