Copyright 2014 by Roberta Gallagher
When I think of Thanksgiving I remember my Mom cleaning for 3 days because her family was coming. We were the poor ones and this was the one time a year she prepared a feast.
Mom was a terrible cook. Her idea was to cook things without seasoning (so the natural flavor could shine through). She overcooked everything.
One Thanksgiving my Dad put the fork in the turkey and it bounced off the table.
Definitely one of the most joyous moments of my childhood because we laughed until our sides split.
Nasty Aunt Florence did not like us coming to visit her home because we had nothing she could use. Uncle Harry laid back because if he said anything she would give a loud yell HARRY! My Uncle Al was the wise one who everyone turned to for advice. Aunt Shirley was the gay divorcee, in a time when that was very rare. She always had tall tales about her boyfriend du jour. I do not think her children were too happy about that.
Why the remembrances? We all were flawed but how wonderful it was when I look back. Despite the backstories we were strongly connected. Cousin Scott is gone, my brother is gone and of course all the aunts and uncles as well. It is the memories that bring tears to my eyes and a longing for those days circa 1953-1994.
There were some friends of Mom’s who came every holiday. They shared a house and brought fun to the occasion. Molly and Frances made me feel important. Years later I told my parents I never met a lesbian couple, and asked, had they? They got a big chuckle out of that.
“What do you think the relationship was between Molly and Frances?” My first experience with diversity, and I celebrated it without even knowing. I have been celebrating diversity ever since, and warmly embrace multi-cultural, gay and lesbian, multi-racial couples in my practice and in my life due to that first experience.
If you feel you do not belong, create a family that you can belong to. If Aunt Mary frowns when David and John are around the table, then focus on the people who accept you. Don’t allow one person to define your level of comfort. She probably will not change – do not let that keep you from the rest of your family.
Are you and your partner in disagreement about how open to be about your relationship? Put it aside for this occasion, and do address it in counseling where you won’t fall into the same old cycle which does not bring resolution.
This Thanksgiving we are participating in a celebration where each course is at a different house in the neighborhood – this is known as the progressive dinner. I hope you find your own progressive way to truly enjoy diversity on your holiday.