An Odd Thanksgiving

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By Sugar Mama | NB Indy

There are my husband’s Thanksgivings, and then there are mine.

Mine fall on even years and usually involve a margarita and a beach, two planes away from judgment.

My husband’s, by contrast, are spent only an hour’s drive away, in Rancho Cucamonga, with 47 of his closest relatives at this aunt’s house.

Norman Rockwell probably never had to go 47th.

On these odd years, we pass a candle to the person to our right, before dinner, after giving thanks to someone or something worthy – a lovely and not too uncommon tradition.

But imagine being the 32nd toaster, or worse, the 47th? The pressure to tip your hat to an original someone or something … if you get seated at the kids’ table, let’s say … is a real cooker.

So last time I strategized with my husband on the car ride over.

“What are you thankful for this year?” I asked.

“I don’t know yet,” he said.

“Well let’s come up with something ‘niche’ in case we get a bum seat.”

“That’s ridiculous,” he said. “Just go with your heart.”

And so our holiday took a sour turn.

“OK, how about your mom surviving cancer?” he offered.

“I was going to let the kids have that one.”

“Come on, what’s the big deal if we all say the same thing?”

What’s the big deal.

The big deal, I told him, is that when all of us focus on the same, bigger-than-us thing, people tune out … next bus.

But let’s say Grandma Gertie is thankful for the three-pack of panty hose she scored for half-off at Big Lots last week. Or that Cousin Timmy finally got to second base with his girlfriend of six months.

That’s the gravy right there.

That’s family.

As luck would have it, I ended up third in the toasting line that year, two seats shy of the head of his aunt’s table. And I also ended up groveling thanks, in tears, for sparing my mother from her terrible disease.

And so did the remaining 43 family members, some of whom had never met her, one by one.

I learned that year that when it comes to navigating your way through things that are bigger than you, sometimes you simply need to look to your right.

That’s the gravy right there. That’s family.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sugar Mama blogs at

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