November 26, 2007


Families are funny things. Right now I find myself being both an in-law and an out-law at a time when family presses around us the closest and which house for Christmas ham can be a tearful decision. Over Thanksgiving it really started hit me how much we take our ways for granted and how many ticky little traditions can blow up in our faces. How firm is the menu? When are the pies cut? Who does the flowers? Candles? China? Sweet potatoes? Stuffing versus dressing? There are a million tiny ways to get aggravated and fed up. I experienced a few of them just recently and will probably encounter a few more in the weeks to come. Part of the tension likely stems from my being the first daughter to come into the family with a list of family recipes and an itch to play in Grandmom's wonderful kitchen. There is an aunt who married in, but it appears that her accomplishments lie elsewhere. Then I walk in there bearing recipes and traditions from three different families, and...hmmmm....we're not so sure of the rules now. I suppose I could say that I'm the odd one out, but I think it would be more accurate to say that I'm the odd one in. I'm the new girl in their kitchen not knowing through long years tutelage just how the bread should be laid out and cut for stuffing or the gravy stirred. But then they don't know that the familial feast is never finished without sweet potatoes. However, with a lot of grace we managed work with and around each other to produce a wonderful Thanksgiving feast.

The challenges I've faced trying to fit into a new (and very welcoming family) have been somewhat magnified by the fact that there's a kitchen not 15 minute's drive from the one where Grandmom stirred up her magnificent gravy which should have been open to me and could have been a real time of coming home to the old traditions of cornbread dressing and sweet potato casserole eaten sitting around a large round table. That's the kitchen I grew up in. Sadly I don't even know if anyone was even there Thanksgiving. They could have gone camping (another common practice growing up) or to visit my aunt. I don't know. Maybe one day I'll be able to go back and be the daughter of the house working with my mom and my sisters to put the traditional meal on the table. Until this I suppose I wait and learn to be a wife in my own house and a daughter to my in-law's family.

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