Friday, November 25, 2005

About What I Expected

Last year's Thanksgiving dinner was an exercise in keeping my mouth shut and this year was not much different.

My grandma did not make the fruit salad this year. She made Jell-O with marshmallows on top of it. It was black cherry Jell-O. This has to be some Midwestern thing. I know of no other culture that makes Jell-O with marshmallows on it. The food was not good. Even though I find it rude, disgusting and shocking, Aaron's idea of putting ketchup on the turkey might have made it somewhat moist.

Oh, that's right. My cousins all showed up. I was thinking only Diane (my aunt) would be there, but Traci, Alex, Sam, and Aaron were all there. Another year older and not another year wiser.

My grandma is still mean and old, but she was not as vocal this year. I think she's afraid I'll never show up again if she pushes too hard. She did tell me that I could have the picture of my mom and dad that hangs on her wall. She said, "I'm rearranging the pictures and if you don't have one of your parents, you can have that one." She said it as if she was doing me a favor by providing a picture of my parents, but I'm sure she just wants to remove the picture of my mom from her wall. Sorry to tell you woman, but I'm not stupid and I know your intentions. You've never liked my mom and you loved the fact that you could blame her for my parents' divorce (when in fact there were problems on both sides). Your children are no saints, let me tell you. Oops, sorry everyone, that was a bit of a rant I'd love to start with her but don't out of respect for my father and the fact I do love him and my grandma (even though I don't have to like her).

Grandma's mean comments were directed at Aaron only this year (at least the obvious mean ones).

My grandfather is a nice person, but he is a bit weak. He's lived with my grandmother for 60 years and he is smart, but she definitely outwits him. I say this to explain a bit about what happened with Aaron later in the afternoon. I'm getting ahead of myself.

During dinner (dry turkey, lumpy mashed potatoes, weird Jell-O, lumpy gravy, and burnt dinner rolls), Alex, Sam, and Aaron started telling jokes that made fun of Chinese names. Sam managed to tell one that not only offended Chinese people but would be offensive to mentally handicapped people. I'm going to love the day they all have to deal with diversity in the world. Traci encourages this talk by laughing and I just want to scream at them. I did make a comment about it being disrespectful and that they're going to have to wake up to reality one of these days.

Aaron kept talking about football. I decided not to watch the football game because the only Thanksgiving game I cared about was the Wheezers vs. the Geezers game in Texas. I pulled out my iPod and listened to a few songs as the rest of the family sat silently watching the television. My grandpa ended up showing us a company's annual report that he's on the cover because he had some surgery for an enlarged prostate. I was not told about this problem ever.

During the dinner, someone brought up the fact that Becky, Stan, Matt, and Matt's sons, Riley and Tyler, were not able to make it. Chris couldn't come either. But the reason that Matt and his sons couldn't be there was said as, "He's only able to have the boys for half of the day." This prompted Aaron to ask, "Why?" This is when the subject of Matt and Amanda's divorce was brought up. Aaron, Alex, and Sam were all shocked. They live in the same small town in Iowa as Matt does, but had no clue. I told them, "Even I knew that one." I found it as proof that the silence is not just directed towards me.

Aaron was fascinated by my iPod. He wanted one. He's a spoiled brat, just like his mother is. Even Traci's co-workers yell in the background to Diane to not do EVERYTHING for her in her life. I told Aaron, "You have a job. Save your money and buy one." He didn't like this answer. He turns to his mom and says, "I want an iPod."

Traci says, "Okay. I want you to go to school. I want you to clean up after yourself. I want you to help out at home. I want..." She rattles off about ten things.

Aaron's response, "I only want one thing. You can only ask for one thing."

I reply, "How about this? Be responsible."

My dad says, "Or this? Grow up."

Aaron starts this conversation about how life will just open the doors of happiness to him when he turns 18 and the world will be a piece of pie. Traci and Diane start telling him how easy it is for him now and it's hard work when you become an adult. The problem with this is that they keep pushing responsibility back so that Aaron doesn't have to take any. My grandpa says to Aaron, "Of all my grandchildren, only one had it easy when she turned 18. It was always easy for her." He is looking at me.

My dad joins in at this point and says, "That's right. But she also worked hard to make it easy. She was responsible before turning 18."

Aaron seems to be jealous of the job I have. I love my job and I do talk about how much fun it is. He thinks that he can just walk into a job that has no responsibility. Everyone explained to him that a job like this comes from years of hard work and performing well.

This year was not as bad as last year, but it wasn't overly enjoyable. I did enjoy Diane's company a bit, even if I disagree with how easy she is on Traci, Aaron, and the girls. They are in for a rude awakening and could have been better prepared for the real world. But they are not my children and I'll shut up about it. At least I only have to see them once or twice a year.

I remember when Aaron was little. He was a cute kid. He smiled and played and was very social. He made us all smile. He wasn't spoiled until Traci divorced his step-father. He's not a smart teenager, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have the ability. He just doesn't have any motivation to learn anything.

Sam is getting quieter and quieter at family functions. She came out of the back room to eat only. The rest of the time was spent in a chair watching some television show.

Alex is a bundle of energy misdirected. She was doing homework during the day and this was promising to see. Then she was demanding about dessert and eventually abandoned the room when she wasn't going to get the pie immediately. She and Aaron fight constantly and she tells him over and over how he'll never amount to anything. It's interesting to see a 12-year old this aware of the wrong path her brother is taking. She might grow up to be a good person, if she can open her eyes to the world soon enough.

Oh, and on a bit of a funny note. I'm not sure what my grandparents think of my life. They asked about my apartment and I thought this was a bit of an odd question. I said, "Well, it is where I live." My grandma asked about Dana (whom she met when we went to Portugal) and said, "Oh, if I had thought about it, you could have invited her over for dinner." This was a nice attempt of my grandma to be nice and I do appreciate it, even if I think she has the wrong idea. I'm not entirely sure, but I think because I'm single and went on vacation with Dana, my grandparents may think I'm gay. This is not true, but a bit funny to have them think. The fact I lived with Adam for so long probably enforces this belief. But then my grandpa asks about the pictures from Portugal and wants to know where all the pictures of Portuguese men are. Quite odd.

My grandmother is a stubborn woman and has never been a nice woman. She has not had a hard life and I'm not sure why she is so cold towards people, but I have to accept this fact. She also has learned that I won't put up with insults. She is making an effort to be nicer towards me because she knows I'll back off from the family if I don't feel it is a positive environment.

I'll leave you with a few pictures of my family from the day. I didn't get any pictures of Sam or Alex, but the rest are identified below the image.


Grandfather - Don't ask why he doesn't smile. I don't know. Maybe it is from 60 years of eating Grandmother's cooking.

Diane and Traci
Diane and Traci

My Dad