Holidays can be tricky. For the past seven holiday seasons, my husband and I have been able to see both his family and my family for both holidays. Our families live only 15 minutes apart so we do Thanksgiving dinner at one house and dessert at the other, same thing on Christmas. We trade off who gets what dinner each year. Last year was Thanksgiving Dinner with my parents and dessert with his; Christmas Dinner with his parents and dessert with mine. So, it was back to his parents for Thanksgiving Dinner this year except...
Thanksgiving dinner ended up being at his Granny's house.
This was a problem because she lives 45 minutes from my parents.
Thankfully my parents were understanding and said, "Just call us on Thanksgiving and we will see you at Christmas."
So, off to Granny's we went bearing Vegan Shepard's Pie (carrots, onions, sweet potato) and my vegan version of Pear Galette. Delish!
We arrived after Mr. B&B's aunt, uncle, and cousin BUT before his parents, brother, and sister. We chatted and began setting things out on the buffet. I must admit chatting was somewhat difficult for me because of the big pink elephant in the room that we were forewarned not to talk about. Everyone knows the "secret" so why can't we talk about it? Why must we pretend? Silence and pretending does not change the facts. I think many families have big pink elephants, so if you need to get yours off your chest, please comment on this blog post. You'll feel better for sure!
Our Pink Elephant? Mr. B&B's cousin, who married in May 2007 (2 weeks after our April wedding), has been separated from his wife for the past four months and divorce proceedings have begun.
Phew... I sure feel better. I mean, I feel horrible about the demise of their marriage, but glad to have typed the truth out loud.
When my in-laws arrived with the turkey, dinner began. My amazing 20-year-old sister-in-law said grace. She has a beautiful way with words. I spent all of dinner talking with her about art therapy, interning at non-profits, alternative medicine, and her recent trip to a Navajo reservation. Oh, how I have missed her! We always try and get together, but our schedules are very different.
After dinner all of the ladies gathered in the kitchen to clean up, divvy up food, and do dishes. Well, Granny was doing dishes, sister-in-law was drying, and others were putting away. Out of the blue my mother-in-law says to her daughter, "Have you told them about The German?" It seems my sister-in-law met a German recently and they are "kind of falling in love" with each other, but he returns home to Germany in a few short weeks when his student visa runs out. "He is smart and cute and sweet, but who knows what will happen so we are just enjoying the time we have." says my smitten, but still sort of level headed sister-in-law.
Before anyone can be happy for her, things go wild. Granny, quite possibly because of the big pink elephant in the room, begins going on and on about how The German probably has other American girls and girls back in Germany that he is seeing. If he is so cute and smart and sweet there is no way that her granddaughter is the only one he is seeing. This escalates quickly and tensions rise. The smitten one is walking the fine line of disputing and debating her grandmother and quite possibly verbally attacking her for her disrespect, inability to be happy for her, inability to recognize her as an adult, and overall pessimism.
Not one for tension, at a pause in verbal repartee, I offered to take over with dish drying. Sister-in-Law accepted. I was left alone with Granny. I talked about my parents having Thanksgiving with my brother, his girlfriend who is on a student visa from Romania, and her brother who was having his first Thanksgiving meal ever. Slowly changing the subject, bringing down the tension... I can do that.
Well, unlike the Pink Elephant, Granny is going to talk about The German. Still heated she tells me she is not stupid and she knows she ruffled her grandchild's feathers. I respond that I never said she was stupid. I continue to get an earful about her grandchild being too sensitive and sensitivity being a handicap. She goes on to say that this time last year she saw her grandchild get hurt by a young man and she just doesn't want to see that happen again. I responded that I understand that, but sometimes, as hard as it is to watch, especially with romantic relationships, we have to let those we love learn by living, learn by making mistakes because sometimes that is the only way for them to grow. At least we both said our piece.
My thoughts didn't go over too well, but the dishes were done and I went in search of my husband. We had a pleasant dessert and departed. My husband and I enjoyed the peaceful ride home just the two of us gabbing and singing to the radio and reflecting on what we're thankful for. Yes, family, no matter how crazy they can be, were on the list somewhere between our marriage and the Pear Galette ;-)
What do you think of Pink Elephants and Germans? Do you have a preference? If so, which one? Feel free to let the elephants loose in the comment section!