Gnawing on Childless Thanksgiving Leftovers 

The night after Thanksgiving, my father and I watched “Entertainment Tonight” on TV for lack of anything better to watch. The show was obsessed with babies. They profiled five celebrity couples enjoying their little ones this Thanksgiving. Then they featured two “Dancing with the Stars” pros who are dads now. Then they talked about how Blake Shelton and girlfriend Gwen Stefani can’t wait to have children. Is there no other news to report?

I wish people would stop asking how my Thanksgiving was. They expect glowing tales of happy family gatherings. In truth, I feel almost as bad as the turkey. “Complicated,” I say. “Great food, problematic people. How was your Thanksgiving?”

There was the whole family feud business where only half the usual folks showed up. That had nothing to do with babies, but it hurt.

A family member told me she doesn’t want to exchange Christmas presents with me anymore because she has to focus on her grandchildren. She went on and on about the joys of grandmotherhood, implying that I couldn’t possibly understand and that I was an idiot for never having children. She’s wrong. I know what I’m missing, and it hurts.

I didn’t get to see my great-niece because her parents have gotten divorced and she was with her mom. The child was only a few months old when I saw her last Thanksgiving. Now she’s walking and talking and has no idea who I am.

Meanwhile, I was taking care of my dad round the clock. At 95, with numerous problems, he needs a lot of help and resents every bit of it. My mother didn’t nickname him “El Groucho” for nothing.

On the happier side, we all spent Thanksgiving focused on the antics of my niece’s nine-month-old foster child, whom she is in the process of adopting. She’s hoping by April he will be hers. At 30, my niece does not foresee marriage in her future. My father keeps asking why she became a mother this way, but I think the answer is clear: she wanted to have a child and wasn’t willing to take a chance on it never happening. She has a lot of support from her parents and brother, but it’s still a challenge being a single parent. I am so proud of her. I’m not sure I could be so brave.

Being a foster parent isn’t easy. It took a couple years to get to this point, going through an extensive approval process, waiting for a child, and taking in an older boy who proved too troubled and too violent for her to handle. And of course, the child can always be taken away. But now, fingers crossed, the little blond munchkin eating his first stuffing and pumpkin pie last week will soon be a permanent member of the family, and I will be his great-aunt, aka Super Tia.

So that’s how my Thanksgiving went. It’s a great relief to be back home. How about yours? Report in the comments, then tighten your seat belts. Christmas is coming.

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Gnawing on Childless Thanksgiving Leftovers 

  1. Sue love your comments! People who have children/grandchildren don’t often understand how deeply many of their comments or actions hurt!!!! And I’ve found that some of their actions tend to kind of “exclude” you as a family member!! And they have no clue!!!!!

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  2. Hi Sue,
    Thanks for a great relatable post. I’m sorry your relative behaved so cruelly to you; I’ve definitely heard similar things. My Thanksgiving was downright depressing! Holidays are especially tough for me because my husband and I have never managed to make our own traditions. It feels like a time to be surrounded by a warm house full of family, so anything we do alone feels empty. My family lives in 2 other states and my parents always choose to visit the grandkids rather than us. Unless we’re willing to spend a fortune on plane tix or brave a 13 hour snowy drive, we’re stuck with my boring in-laws who live locally. That meant a pre-cooked Safeway meal and trying to avoid political discussions. Ugh. I’m trying to work on new lower expectations for holidays, but it’s so hard not to be jealous of others with a full house! Next year we’re going to splurge on a nice restaurant Thanksgiving and try to make our own tradition!

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