Well, I made it through Phase I of the holiday season - Thanksgiving - without any noticeable hitches. Could it be that as a family we have learned how to do this stuff better through years of practice, or have I become blinded by large quantities of spiked punch and my own dysfunction so much so that the small insanities now go unnoticed . . . or worse . . . they have become a normal part of the celebration?
Maybe my sisters and I have finally come to realize that we are essentially all we have, and in doing so, we have let go of the small and insignificant things? Perhaps we have grown up and into the fine women we dreamed we could be. But honestly speaking, we were pushed to the front of the line.
This was our third Thanksgiving since our young mother passed away, and things have never felt the same. We are now the elder women of our tribe. I did not want that title for many more moons, but things had already been written . . . and therefore . . . done. We are the mothers and the aunts whom I remember looking to for comfort during my childhood years. Whether we are ready for that role yet does not matter. We are it.
I know I do not have all the answers like I thought my mother to have all my growing days - she did a flawless job of pretending things would always be alright. Things are never always alright. Things are as they are. There are no rites of passage into this role of female elder, aside from promotion by death. There are no guidelines or rules. There is no help.
This is difficult in the sense that I do not come from the generation of women who believed Betty Crocker was creating recipes from her shiny kitchen with chrome appliances; that there was no such thing as pre-marital sex (to speak of); that dirty laundry was never to be aired and linoleum floors shined with polyurethane wax while dust bunnies grew ferociously under the furniture.
I come from the generation where Martha Stewart, as close to perfection as a woman can get on one hand while the other was slapped for five months for fooling us all. (Was she punished for deceiving her shareholders or for deceiving those who held her in perfect woman status?) In other words, I am not good at pretending things will always be alright. I am not the kind of a bosomy role model that can squeeze demons out with a tight hug. I am an imperfect woman fighting off demons daily and praying to be better tomorrow.
So, as a family elder, role model and mentor I have this to say to the youth of my tribe . . . I love you. Maybe that is really all it takes.
On a quirky note . . . while my sisters and I cleared the table after Thanksgiving dinner and began rationing off the leftovers into Ziplock bags and Chinet paper plates, we came upon a bag of empty containers. Apparently, my father was prepared having labeled, with mini post-its, each individual container with its desired contents. (An engineer always) We each grabbed a container and began filling: sweet potatoes, turkey, stuffing . . . I grabbed the one labeled: Misc. Was this a test, dad? Damn it! Ah, maybe pie! No, my niece had the one labeled pie. We all laughed. The only thing left was mashed potatoes. That was our one missing miscellaneous dish. That puzzle solved. We all felt wiser.