Okay–it was great in a ‘strategy planned like a military general’ kind of way. We took two cars because we agreed to pick up and drop off Alexa (my biological mom) and if we had all gone in one car, it would have meant the kids would have been hauled around for more than 120 miles. As it was, I picked her up, we all met at my aunt Teresa’s for a large to-do with multiple parts of the family, and then Mate took her home while I took the kids to dad & stepmom’s for a smaller celebration, where he would meet us later–and that might have been perfect, except…
Except my older aunt, the one who’s lived all over the globe, and who was the spoiled older sister when she lived at home and who had nannies and servants when she was raising her own children and who has yet to realize that the world does NOT revolve around her, asked me if Mate could drop of my grandmother too.
Now dropping off my grandmother was a job for my uncle–his family lives five, maybe ten minutes away from her. She wanted to go home early–about the time when we were leaving, and instead of asking them if they were ready to leave yet, older aunt thought, “Hey–this way, I don’t have to do any thinking or helping myself,” and asked me if we could do her a favor.
I did a brave thing. I said, “No.”
I said, “No” not because I felt like being a bitch, but because it was nearly an hour out of Mate’s way, and we had another meal waiting on us. Unlike our first stop, where we were one of many families at the table, our second meal was ONLY us and dad & stepmom. Stepmom worked all day, and Daddy offered to cook dinner while she was gone, and Mate & the kids had already dropped off the fixins (while I was picking up biological mom) so I could add to the meal when the kids and I got there. The plan was, Stepmom would get home, we’d have a half-an-hour of amicable prep, and, voila–for once, she wouldn’t have to do all the work. The grandmother who passed away last month was Stepmom’s mother–this was a nice way for her to have some family around her for Thanksgiving and not have too much stress, which she didn’t need.
So I said “No.” And older aunt took advantage of the time when I was rounding up the kids and went and got Mate and asked him behind my back, because Mate’s a nice guy, and she knew he wouldn’t say “No” to her. And because he didn’t realize that the entire family would be waiting dinner for him (he didn’t realize how small the celebration would be–not his fault, mine, but there are things women know about family celebrations that men don’t know all the time) he agreed to drive over an hour out of his way. By the time I realized what she had done, I was behind the wheel and watching in surprise as older aunt was loading grandma AND Alex into Mate’s car.
So we waited dinner an hour, because my “No” wasn’t good enough.
Now this didn’t really sour my meals at all–I loved being with my family, and yesterday was wonderful in that way. The celebration with Daddy & my stepmom was very sweet, and stepmom got to play cards when it was over (I napped–I was EXHAUSTED) and everybody–including the kids– were VERY happy. It was really the best sort of Thanksgiving, all things considered.
So I didn’t let it wreck anything important–but I will be very prepared in the future. Because it wasn’t fair–it wasn’t. I rarely say “No.” The fact that I’ve been splitting my holiday time between two-three families since I was very small is proof that I’ve learned to accommodate a variety of people’s needs and to try to make as many people happy as possible. So I don’t say “No,” a lot–and I thought that would make it significant enough for the people in my family to listen.
The fact that it wasn’t means that next time I will have to say it louder.
But that was yesterday. Today was the part I really savor. Today, we did a short spate of housecleaning and a lot of leftover eating. I sat on the couch and slept and watched Buffy and let the little kids sit in my lap and knit and knit and knit. I felt my body recover from another busy week, from months with too much worry and work and not enough sleep, from feeling like I MUST be doing something ALL THE TIME. It was awesome.
Yesterday I was empowered mother/daughter/wife, organizing like a general, and the results were worth it.
Today I was eggplant–a massive purple vegetable, and I was happy today too.