Thanksgiving-Palooza: Part Two

Let’s play a game….one of the following two things are true:

1.) I’ve had about 3 glasses of wine at our family Thanksgiving gathering, and I seem to love my family more than usual.

2.) Jude Law has proposed marriage, I am moving to England, and our babies will be miraculous feats of beauty.

Obviously, I don’t drink, so I will be sending out “Save the Dates” for my matrimonial union with Mr. Law….

In all seriousness, I am enjoying my family more than usual this year, and yes…I have had about 3 glasses of wine.  Determining whether the two are connected will be left up to the Gods to decide.  But, the important thing is…I am appreciating my family more and more this year.

This, in itself, is a hard feat to accomplish.  My family consists of me, my parents (who love me unconditionally…I don’t know who paid them off), my aunt and uncle, their children, and their children, my second cousins.  The overwhelmingly glaring truth about my involvement and proper place in my family hinges on one fact:  I am the only one in the 15-38 age bracket.  Let me be more specific:  I am the only one in the 22-30 age bracket…meaning, I am the only one without a spouse, children, and stretch marks.

It has been somewhat difficult for me to find my place within my family for the past few years.  When I was growing up, I was the youngest grandchild…the baby of the family…I relished an era of time that allowed me to do/say anything that would be looked upon with giddiness and awe.  That was, until , a new generation of great-grandchildren usurped my status and became the new darlings of the bunch. They pushed me off my pedestal, and left me to fend for myself…poor, lost, collegiate student that I was.  I found myself struggling to define my familial identity as a grandchild who was becoming an adult, and as an adult that wasn’t quite ready to claim that title.

I spent most of my Thanksgivings between the ages of 18-24 off in a corner, removed from most of the family banter….content to devote myself to the silent welcoming glow of my Blackberry and the gentle hum of NFL television broadcasting.  I had nothing to contribute:  my parents and aunts/uncles discussed the affairs of my grandparents, who sat quietly and contentedly on a sofa in the far corner.  My cousins, all with families and children of their own, discussed parenting and mortgages, topics unfamiliar to my sphere of existance.  And me?  I sat there, wondering where my life would lead me, when I’d ever find a boyfriend, and what would be happening on the next episode of LOST.

I just felt out of the loop.  How do you contribute to dinner table conversation when you’re unfamiliar with the territory?  How do you contribute when your field of experience is completely different from anyone else in your family?  These are questions I’ve had to cope with over the past few holidays, and I’ve unsuccessfully come up with no answers.

Yet, somehow….this year, it all changed. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve finally started to become more comfortable in my own skin…or if my 2nd cousins are now more interested in video games than blowing bubbles of spit with their mouths…or if I have more confidence to crack a dirty joke in front of my aunts and uncles…regardless, my status in my family changed this year.

I found I was able to sit down and really talk to my cousin about the art of education and the trials I’ve had to endure as a student teacher.  I debated the pros and cons of the Nintendo Wii vs. the PS3 with my 10-year-old cousin (who really wants “Call of Duty” for X-Mas).  I even was able to discuss “LOST” theories with my male cousin who really has never carried on a 5 minute conversation with me in my entire life.  I contributed a crap-load of desserts to the family meal, and I only relegated myself to my laptop once during the entire (to write this post, of course).

It’s a huge step for me…to be able to connect with the family, on all age levels.  It means that I care enough to make an effort to do so…something that has been absent the past few Thanksgivings.  The conversation was good, the company was great, and I think I’ve finally found my niche in my family:  the Straddler of All Age Brackets.  I can balance a discussion on how to make hummus with my aunt with the act of watching “Beauty and the Beast” with my younger cousins (which is what I’m doing now…they asked me if this movie was originally released in black and white…”back in the day”…oi vey). I will never know why I’m suddenly more comfortable in my own skin around my own family, but I am….that’s the important thing.

So…here I am…Straddler of All Age Brackets…not yet married and no longer a child…still waiting for a family of my own, yet content to exist where I am at this point in my life.  And you know what?  I’m a-okay with that title for now. Smile

8 responses to this post.

  1. I filled that role for several years… I was the “black sheep middle child” – a writer in a family full of engineers, still single when everyone else (even my younger sister) was married, & investigating local breweries when everyone else was talking about 401Ks, air filters, and the best vacuums. My sister asked for recipes at her bridal shower & I wrote Pizza Hut’s phone number on my recipe card. I TOTALLY feel you.

    Know what? A few years ago my brother told me I was “the cool one” in the family, & it still makes me smile! Relish your role – no one else can fill it! })i({


    • Ahh, someone who understands! Not only am I the only “18-and-above’er” in our family who is still not married and without children, but I’m also the only one in our brood who is really, really involved in music. I’ve also had more opportunities to perform and travel and see more of the world, so the topics I’d love to talk about may fall on deaf ears. I don’t know how to prepare a turkey or a full meal for the family…but I CAN make the best damn cheesecake that ever walked the planet.

      Tonight, I did sort of have a great moment when one of the children came upstairs to fetch me. He wanted me to come down and watch part of a movie with them. That’s the first time such a thing has happened with tots who are usually quiet and reserved.

      I hope to at least achieve the title of the “kooky” one in the family, if at least not “cool.” Nice to know I share my dilemma with someone else!


  2. Posted by Nazia on November 26, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    you have made self made barricades otherwise I think you have a lovely family setup.
    If I was not wrong in my last comment about you .I assess little bit about you.
    You have a different talent other than your family andit should nt be tkaen as baricade between you and family.You might have high level of caliber or IQ but you are genetically part of them and I am sure you have some common features to discuss on such wine table palozza treat.I can simply tell you at this moment that try to mingle with them by lowering your level of discussion and then see how these people come close to you.
    You know I am only female engineer of my family and I had no female cousins or sister of my age so I almost grew up 10 to 15 male cousins who mostly handled me like their own.
    I enjoy the company of my illiterates aunts, businessman uncles., sporty cousins and enjoy the company of artist nature people of my family with some mischievous ways a as I love to hear their past stories and adventures of them.I have full friendship discussion with my professional uncles and aunts for getting more practical lessons of life of outer world other than family.Family gossips are part of life and when you have it youwould apply these discussed tips in your life too.There is no alternative of company of experienced people as it would save you from many mistakes.
    So in thanks giving day you have to learn how to contribute your personal time to different nature of family people Give them space in their way and in return they would try to understand your unique nature.


  3. I like your description as the straddler: “I am the only one without a spouse, children, and stretch marks.”

    Me, too. Mostly. I have a couple stretch marks on my hips! Damn you, puberty! 15+ years, and I’m still not over it.


    • I think the only way to get out of the “Straddler” position is to have either a baby or host Thanksgiving itself…and I’m DEFINITELY not having a baby any time soon. And…I don’t think my family’s going to travel here to my apartment, where the main event is usually playing Rock Band and drinking Sam Adams beer. So, I will remain the straddler for a few years more!


  4. The kooky straddler of all age brackets. Every family loves that individual. And if Thanksgiving at your place involves Sam
    Adams and Rock Band? Holy crap, you’ll have more happy people than you can shake a stick at, which I’m assuming is a lot although I’ve never actually tried shaking a stick to see what happens. We’re in, if you think that your apartment (and you sanity) can handle the onslaught of the Species crew.


    • Ahh, you misunderstand my family…anything technological and they get this glassy, foggy look in their eyes. Growing up, I took on the challenge of programming the VCR, organizing the TV channels, and activating our answering machine…I once tried to get my mom to play Rock Band. She attempted to do the drums. It was like teaching a seal to type on a computer keyboard. I’m fairly certain Hellcat could get a higher score than my mom if she tried.


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