What’s Stressful About Thanksgiving? Family!


Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just a week away? “Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go,” as the song goes.

Yes, just a few days from now, we will bundle into our woolen coats, mufflers, mittens and — screech — wait a minute. In the first place, nobody around here is bundling up in anything heavier than a cardigan. In the second place, grandma is probably at the beach.

As more and more Baby Boomers flood into Florida, as required by Retirement Law, more and more baking pans are being left behind by those anxious to embrace a new, less stressful, lifestyle.

But what’s so stressful about Thanksgiving? What’s so stressful about dusting, vacuuming, doing laundry, starching napkins, polishing silver and making up all the extra beds? What’s so horrible about paying a big bill at the end of an exhausting trip to the congested supermarket to buy turkey, stuffing, cranberries, potatoes, yams, marshmallows and the ingredients for four or five pies? And who can see any stress in the fact that sister and brother haven’t spoken since last Thanksgiving when brother demonstrated his rather poor archery skills to the detriment of sister’s left front tire? And why do Aunt Kit and Uncle Dan always bring a fruitcake that everyone knows darn well is left over from last Christmas? Meanwhile, Sherry refuses to watch her younger siblings anymore now that she’s discovered, well, sherry?

No, Thanksgiving isn’t stressful. It’s family that’s stressful.

No one would stress over cleaning house if that one time 14 years ago, a family member hadn’t absentmindedly slid a finger across a bookshelf, leaving a mark in the dust. Or poked a toe at a stray feather under the coffee table. Or pointed out a stain on a napkin. Or suggested ways to keep silver looking shinier. Or asked when we last had someone sleep in this funny-smelling guest bed?

Sure those are merely innocent comments and questions meant to help us improve our lifestyles.

And certainly the grocery bill is worth it when we consider the end result — a meal of plenty, a feast, a work of art. Of course, a lot of the family is vegan now and wouldn’t dare eat turkey. Brother read somewhere that stuffing that was actually stuffed inside the bird could kill you, and sister won’t touch cranberries since that one rolled off her plate onto her white silk blouse that time. Auntie Kit won’t eat potatoes or yams because of the starch, and Uncle Dan doesn’t want everybody filling up on marshmallows when there’s a delicious fruitcake waiting. And Sherry has had a little too much, well, sherry and toppled over onto the dessert table, causing all the pies to land in a heap on the floor.

The good news is that sister broke her silence long enough to berate brother for spoiling stuffing “for the rest of us!” And brother pushed away from the table, grabbed his bow and headed for the driveway, where we all watched him put a hole through sister’s new tire with perfect accuracy.

Meanwhile the fruitcake is safely on the floor under the rest of the desserts, and no one remembered to call the kids downstairs to eat until we heard the crash that meant great-grandma’s ugly antique lamp had finally met its untimely demise.

What’s so stressful about that? Thanksgiving is a good thing. However, if you’re looking for me next Thursday, I will be at the beach.