Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When Plans Change

The minute he said the words "Thanksgiving" and "New York" in the same sentence a steel door slammed shut in my mind and I didn't hear anything else that came out of his mouth. Instead I fired back with a less diplomatic version of "no way in the world are we staying in New York for Thanksgiving," and walked away.

I probably could have been a little more receptive to what he was saying. I mean, that's what a good wife does right?

But with my Thanksgiving plans in jeopardy, I hopped on a train headed straight for crazy town.

For nearly my entire life, Thanksgiving has meant Pittsburgh. It has meant my sisters and brothers-in-law, my parents, and sundry aunts, uncles and cousins all gathered around my aunt's giant dining room table. It has meant Shabbat dinner the next day at my parents' house with the aforementioned aunts, uncles and cousins, and a Saturday night at the movies. It is three days immersed in my big, loud, manic, amazing family.

Since I got married, it has never been particularly difficult for us to split the holidays. Thanksgiving with my family in Pittsburgh. Chanukah with his here in New York. The September Jewish holidays wherever is easiest depending on what days of the week they fall out on and how easy it is for us to travel. We count ourselves lucky to be close with both sides of our family, and have never, ever had any conflict over this.

Until this year. The once in a lifetime overlap of Thanksgiving and Chanukah upset our easy balance, and all of a sudden we had a decision to make.

We negotiated. We discussed. I got mad. David stayed utterly reasonable.

He pointed out to me that this year was a bit of an anomaly anyway. For various reasons both of my sisters had to be at their in-laws for Thanksgiving, so they had to skip the Pittsburgh festivities too. And shouldn't we save the 6 hour drive for a weekend where we can all be together?

His logic cut through the mass of resentment lodged in my brain. I knew he was right. I knew it. But it didn't make the thought of Thanksgiving without my parents for the first time ever any less sad.

It was strange to wake up in my own room on Thanksgiving morning instead of in my childhood bed. I spent the day making pies, watching the parade, lounging around in my sweatpants, talking to my parents and sisters. Missing them.

Then it was time to leave for dinner.

When we got to David's parents' house, we all gathered in the living room as David's dad prepared to light the Chanukah menorah. I stood there, David's sister and her fiance to my right, and David's brother and his wife to my left. There was David's mom, and some cousins. A room full of people who have, over the past seven years, accepted me, and supported me, and loved me like their own.

In the glow of the candles, one thought slid quietly through my mind.

This is my family too.


  1. Awww such a lovely moment you captured.

  2. Thank you. It's nice to know I'm not the only Jew on WordPress.

  3. Why did this make me blubber like a baby? I'm going to blame PMS, but I think it had to do with the storytelling.

    (The blubbering starting at "Then it was time to leave for dinner."

  4. This reminded me of the post I wrote today, except with less fighting and more rational thought on your part.
    I relate with this a lot. It's hard to let go of certain traditions when they mean so much to us, and I am like a rat terrier with a rag in its mouth when it comes to holding on to stuff. Change? No thank you.
    But it's certainly a growing experience, isn't it? Especially this year, when I realized I just want to be with Mike. Nothing else matters.

  5. This is so simple and so beautiful because of that. ! I have to admit, even though I'm sure it was crazy, the overlap, I'm a little jealous that my Jewish friends are "done" this year. I still feel so overwhelmed!

  6. Glad that it all worked out so lovely. It is hard though. The sharing of the holidays with in-laws. Now that we successfully navigated all that with our parents, we are on the precipice of having to share our children with their spouses parents. Not there yet -- but it will be sooner than we think.

  7. Geography has ensured that this is never an issue for Kellie and me. My family lives on the East Coast, Kellie's family lives on the West Coast, and we live in San Diego. Problem solved.

  8. What a great realization at the end!

  9. Beautiful post. :) My girlfriend's parents are not accepting of our relationship, so I've never met them, but I hope one day to be able to say that they are my family, too.