A Minute to Myself (109)
A Minute to Myself (110)

Thanksgiving at My Brother’s

My two daughters and I went to my brother’s house for Thanksgiving. In attendance were: my parents, my brother, his wife, their two kids (both teens), her parents, both of her brothers, one with his wife and two sons (teen and tween), the other with his wife and baby son (until it was time for her to leave and go upstate to her parent’s house where she really wanted to be), one of her two sisters and her husband, and the son of the other sister (who spent the holiday with her boyfriend—“when will she get the ring?” was the question of the day, and his young daughter). It was a full house. Oh, and a teen friend.

In accordance with tradition, my sister-in-law cooked far too much delicious food. Let’s just say that she had an entire 14-pound turkey that was not even carved as part of her leftover feast.

One brother-in-law regaled us with stories of his eating adventures in China. These included: leeches, dog, and (I think) monkey brains. But he did have some insight into more than just his food forays when he said that he wanted to give these impoverished “restaurateurs” a $20 tip for serving him the best meal he had in China in their extremely bare home/restaurant. First he told them (through his employee, who was taking him around the country) that it was a wonderful meal. As part of their thank you, they gave him three bottles of bottled water (which, he said, are very expensive there). When pressed, his employee told him that he couldn’t give the $20 to them since they wouldn’t be able to give him anything in return, and that would be unbearable to them. I, of course, joked that he could take one of their children who were sleeping on a plywood slab on the dirt floor. That broke the levity, but it was a moment of insight into the importance of self-respect and what it means to give, and to give back.

When he and his wife left, the news fluttered out that he just found out that he has cancer.

One of the sister-in-laws told me that her parents, in their early and mid-80’s are not doing well and that she spends her days tending to them, and her sisters tend to them on the weekends.

And my sister-in-law’s parents looked better than last year, but they’re both suffering from a medical book of illnesses.

And my parents are starting to look frailer.

It was weird, all of the “children” are in our 40’s and 50’s; our children are teens, going to college, applying to college, or heading into high school; and our parents, somehow, became our grandparents. We all moved up a rung on the ladder, and we are now in a position of responsibility (at least in regards to our families). We are who we are. While I still have illusions of grandeur, I am also this divorced woman, who is a teacher, who lives in the suburbs, who says “uh huh” and “oh, I’m sorry” much more often than I am consulted on issues related to girl’s self-esteem, women’s need to not listen to men and their lectures unless they offer a few lectures of their own, and how to break the cycle of control and abuse.

Family gatherings, a time to gather and to gather insight. Also a time to quiet the discontent and simply flourish being with people who love you because you are family, and since we have been family for so long, we are all related to the first degree (us Italians and Jews, it’s all the same by now).

(Oh, and I’m thankful that mr ex isn’t around to make any snide comments about anyone. It truly is liberating not to have an arrogant man around.)

(I just wrote “snide comments, and a woman at the next table in Panera’s said “snide comment” about ten seconds later. The universe is an interesting place.)



Sometimes there's a little poignancy at the holidays, as we make our way through the days. That's what I felt reading your post. But I also got the sense of strong ties in your words too. Thanks for sharing.


The inevitable reflections during the holidays can sometimes be daunting. I'm glad you were able to spend it free of mr ex!

Stepping Thru

It IS so hard realizing that we are moving into our parents position and that they are now in our grandparents position. My kids are now moving into my place. I'm not ready for that. I don't want to give up my "place". I still want to be in their place.
Each holiday I look at my parents and my mother-in-law and wonder if there will be any more. It hurts but it also makes each holiday more special. Thanks for putting into words what I have been feeling.


Isn't it wierd to be the "children" and watch your parents get old? I hate that. I finally sat at the grown up table this year. It's about time!(I'm 34)-but it hit me that I'm starting to change places....oh life....

Midlife Slices

I hate seeing signs of decline in my older loved ones and wonder how it feels to know you are in your last years. My in-laws are 93 and for the past 3 Christmas's we've wondered if this would be the last. I'm still wondering. Glad you got to spend your holiday away from the asshole ignorant ex.

Midlife Slices

I hate seeing signs of decline in my older loved ones and wonder how it feels to know you are in your last years. My in-laws are 93 and for the past 3 Christmas's we've wondered if this would be the last. I'm still wondering. Glad you got to spend your holiday away from the asshole ignorant ex.

Small Footprints

For me, being in a room with all of my family and extended family and friends ... well, it's a singular moment. It's an image that I try to capture in my head and heart ... for all time. It's like a cherished photo.

Your post helped me to remember all of those singular moments with my family!

Thank you!

Small Footprints


The frail part is what's been getting me lately, watching my mom grow older and realizing I'm growing older too. It sounds like you had a lovely holiday.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

Joanne, what really came to me was that we are one family now, not my brother's and my sister-in-law's, and that was wonderful. We are all connected.

April, unfortunately, he called my daughter's every night and imposed conditions on my older daughter for going into NYC. That was tough, to see so bluntly how he hasn't let up the need to control--just transferred it, and to my daughter. The ache of a mother now, not a wife.

ST, more than anything family gatherings make us aware of the passage of time, even thinking about how many there have been. Accepting that movement is as hard to come by as the first senior moment.

MS, I love how you can juxtapose thoughts on the elderly with a blow to the groin. I actually sat down for a few minutes with my father to look at their financial papers. So many of my friends' fathers have passed; it must be hard for him to see how the boys go, and I know my mother is terrified to be alone. I hope I will rise to the occasion if need be.

SF, it's interesting because just three weeks ago was my younger daughter's Bat Mitzvah, but I was so busy, I couldn't reflect. This gave me that chance. Oh, and the bizillion hours of traffic.

JC, it was lovely, my parent's even got to see a play on Broadway (Chicago--they loved it) with one granddaughter, and take some trains with the other. It's nice that wrinkles and that slow stand don't stop them.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

Karin, what did you have to do to get a seat at the big people table? There was a delay in noticing that my parents are aging, and it really kicked in when I really started feeling myself reaching midlife, I mean having a teenager really does that to you. No longer can you sit around and weave fantasies in your head, you need to see what fantasies are in her head.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)