Sisters and Aunts and Daughters and Nieces and Holidays

9 years ago

Thanksgiving always makes me think of the people who are missing.  By now that's almost an entire generation: my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents.  We all came together at our house.  As the oldest cousin, I got to help in the kitchen and set the table. Sounds lame but it felt very grownup.  Not that that lasted for long.  Over the years we went from three to six to nine cousins, producing plays to perform after dinner, playing Sardines and Murder, telling secrets and wreaking civilized havoc.  

My favorite memory, though, was time with the sisters: my mom and my aunts.  One lived nearby but the other came with her family from Cleveland so when they were all together they wanted to talk.  They'd sit in my parents' room for ages; they let me hang around too.  In a way, all of us gathered on the bed those afternoons, and later in the kitchen after dinner, washing dishes, is kind of like what happens here at BlogHer: women passing along stories and traditions, preserving the wisdom of the tribe.

I had no idea then of the value of those times.  It wasn't just being treated like "one of the girls," it was the sisterly warmth, the laughter and sudden emotion, eye welling up, when one aunt spoke of living so far from "home."    Now, probably 50 years later, I can see her leaning against the wall, her sisters looking toward her with understanding sympathy.  I can hear them talking about their parents, my grandparents, one difficult, both disappointed with their lives.  For a little while, the burden of worry lifted a bit as they shared it.

They were part of what is literally another world; hats and gloves, scars from the Depression, government service during World War II, an abiding sense of appropriateness.   Like Betty Draper, they left careers to stay "home with the kids."  Their lives were so different from ours, constrained and regulated -- lives that many daughters went to work to insure against.  

What we forget is that, even then, there was sisterhood.  Maybe it wasn't as powerful and certainly it wasn't as organized, but for me it still modeled a solidarity, loyalty and love of the company of women that I still cherish.  And it's so exciting to see us all here, taking that example along with the many farther afield, to enhance our larger community - still a family of sisters - from one end of the Internet to - well - to the whole wide world.

Stirrup Queens has a moving meditation on infertility around holiday family gatherings.  It will make us all wiser.

And I'm not the only one with family memories of course.  Lisen Stromberg has some lovely recollections of her own mother's Thanksgiving rituals.

Finally, the amazing Mocha Momma shares the "fake Turkey Day" that is part of the rituals of divorce.

 

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