{ Thursday, November 07, 2002 }

Thanksgiving Plans

I've been looking for an excuse not to go home for Thanksgiving. Things with Mom have been less than stellar and the idea of being there without a car is pretty grim. At one point, I was thinking I might even invent a boyfriend and "go home with" him (and then spend the holiday here by myself). I really didn't want to go. I knew I wouldn't be able to not go. I may dread and hate it, but I wasn't about to leave Mom and Shelly without me for Thanksgiving.

Then this morning, I got an e mail from my mother.

Shelly can't get home from California for Thanksgiving. That idea was so depressing. That was the one bright spot in the whole notion of being back there. To me, major holidays are mostly about Shelly and I riding around in the car from gathering to gathering, claiming to have already eaten or to have plans to eat later (neither of us likes holiday food), and then driving thru Taco Bell. It's one of the rare times when we stick together. At one point, my father's mother actually came right out and asked if we were capable of doing things seperately ever, because she'd never seen us apart.

I have a very non-nuclear family. Any given holiday means trying to cram in Dad, Mom's Family, Mom's Fiance's Family and Nikki's mother's house in one day. If you add in a significant other and his family, you can see how holidays mean riding in the car to me. Shelly is the only other person in this whole messy business who goes to all of these. We stick together. She even came with me to Waste's mother's house last Christmas Day.

I kept reading.

"Would you like to keep your sister company on thanksgiving in CA? I'll pay for the flight."

I wrote back (which does make it rather obvious that I am ignoring the car e mail, but whatever) and told her that would be great.

So, it is looking like I am bound for Los Angeles (by plane! I hate flying.) for Thanksgiving. It means missing the other holiday highlight, The Random Late Night Adventures of mary ann and keledy, but I haven't seen my sister since the morning she left for California back in May.

I don't know if the offer was more for Shelly's sake (Mom not wanting her youngest alone for Thanksgiving; Shelly loves a holiday like no one else can), or for the sake of trying to make peace with me (I mean, a plane ticket to CA? That's an olive branch and then some), or what. I think regardless, it'll be good for everyone. Except maybe my childless, parentless mother (her mother died four years ago on Thanksgiving weekend. That's another story. She's insisted on referring to herself as an orphan since.).

But Mom is like that about her children. She'll mention once that it was lonesome at home with no children leaving dishes on the coffee table and shoes on the floor and books on the couch, but she's just not one for foisting her emotions on her children. She might be sad, but she'll gladly send me off to see Shelly without a mention of me leaving her. And if I say anything, she'll tell me that "it's part of letting you grow up". She believes that too.

It's still in the early planning stages, but it looks good. It's looking like I am going to get a free trip, a meat free Thanksgiving, and to see my sister. And I know Shelly will sing off-key, annoying Thanksgiving songs enthusiastically with me.

I'm already getting a little teary at the idea that my little family is changing. I know I left first, and I think that helps to make it hard. But this is the first holiday when we won't be together. And Mom is engaged and I know that she's so happy and she deserves to be happy and her fiance has been like a father to me since I was five and I'm not trying to say I don't want her to get married, but it's really hard. I'm pretty sure (she'd never tell me this, my mother isn't one much for divuldging personal information to her children) that all this time she hasn't gotten married because of us. Because she didn't want to change things on us. And it's hard to accept that we're both so grown-up now that she is moving on with her life. It's great, but it's tough.

Soon enough, she'll be moving out of my childhood home. And Shelly's all the way in California. And we're not going to all three be together for Thanksgiving. Maybe that's why Mom is offering to send me to California to be with Shelly. Because it's never been just Mom and me for anything other than the random weekend when Shelly was in school. The night before Shelly left, as I was trying to teach her to drive a stick (I made her drive me to the bank to get her graduation money), we talked about how this was probably the last time we'd be our little family. It was hard to believe then.

It's hard to believe that I won't be in Greater Cincinnati for Thanksgiving, but the change seems so real now. "The only constant is change". What a hard thing to embrace.

posted by mary ann 9:23 AM