By Nichole Giles
“What a wonderful idea,” my mother exclaimed. She even dotted her sentence with a period, using her soup spoon and flicking a drop of broccoli cheese goo on my sleeve. “Thanksgiving at your house would be so nice.”
We sat across from each other at a bistro table in an out-of-the-way café. She with her blue-tooth in her ear and her phone constantly buzzing, and me trying to gently, but firmly convince her that five Thanksgiving dinners was too much for anyone to eat.
“Well,” I replied, rubbing my soiled sleeve with a napkin. “It gets tough dividing our time between two sets of parents, grandparents, and in-laws every holiday. I thought it would be nice if I had my brothers and sisters over, and both sets of parents as well.”
“And I agree,” she said. “I just want to do whatever is easier on my kids.”
“I’m glad you feel that way,” I said. I gulped down a mouthful of pop knowing that the worst part of this conversation was next. “Because with that same thing in mind, I hope Grandma and Grandpa will understand that we won’t be making it to their dinner this year.”
My mother blinked. “Well, of course not,” she said acting surprised. “Why would you go to the trouble of making a big dinner at your house and then go to theirs as well?”
I sighed in relief. “I wouldn’t,” I said, rushing on. “I love our extended family, but there are just so many of us, and our own immediate family is getting so large that we almost need to book the cultural hall for Thanksgiving dinner.”
“Yes,” she said, nodding. “There are a lot of us. I completely understand.”
We went on to discuss the menu, and what each family member should contribute. I would do the turkey, stuffing, and potatoes. There was discussion of yams, salads, hors d’oeuvres, and it isn’t Thanksgiving in our family without at least twenty pies.
The idea of creating so much food didn’t stress me out nearly as much as the idea of spending our day going from dinner to dinner all over two counties. I walked out of the charming café with a spring in my step knowing that I had just performed a small personal miracle by convincing my mother that our holiday traditions might be better with a little bit of change.
As we walked through the parking lot, my mother stopped in thought. “You know, Honey, I’d be happy to let Grandma and Grandpa know about the change of plan, but I think the invitation would be so much better received coming from you.”
“And,” she continued, “since your aunt and uncle from Las Vegas will be in town that week, we’ll need to invite them and their children as well. You’ll need to call them.”
“I’m so glad you’re such a gracious hostess that you’d volunteer yourself to host Thanksgiving this year. Do you have everyone’s phone number? You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by leaving them out do you?”
“No, Mom,” I said slowly. “I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.” Am I missing something here?
“I know you don’t. And it won’t hurt us to invite three or four more people. Oh, I’m so excited this is going to be great fun. Love you!” Turning away from what could only have been stunned shock on my face, my mother slid into the driver’s side of her car and revved the engine. She answered her ringing phone and wiggled her fingers at me as she pulled around the parking lot, barely missing the curb as she went.
“How did that happen?” I wondered to myself. Not only had I just managed to get steamrolled into hosting an extended family party, which was sure to be much larger than four extra people, but also somehow, my mother had turned it into my idea. I leaned on the hood of my car trying to piece the conversation together in my head.
My mother had just caught me in a classic word trap, and I hadn’t even seen it coming. Then, with a shrug, I got in my car and turned down the stereo—which was currently on deafening loud volume—before fishing my cell phone out of my purse. “Hi honey,” I said to my husband. “Looks like we’re going to be needing to borrow some banquet tables for Thanksgiving. My mother just invited everybody.”
“You mean EVERYBODY?” he asked.
“EVERYBODY,” I said.
“Ah,” he said, “Okay.” And I could practically hear the ‘I told you so’ he was thinking as he laughingly suggested, “Do you think we’ll need to book the cultural hall?”
“Why not?” I replied. “The more the merrier, right?”