November 29, 2016
I didn’t get invited to Thanksgiving Dinner. To be fair, since I moved to North Carolina four and a half years ago, Thanksgiving is typically not a holiday my family of origin spends together. Most years, I stay in North Carolina, my sister goes to her in-laws in Ohio, and my mom and other sister either go to my brother’s or they go out to dinner.
This year, I went back to Chicago to visit my daughter, who’s been in the hospital for the past eight weeks. She is pregnant with twins, and it is a high risk pregnancy. The doctors were pretty sure they were going to deliver on the 22nd, which is why I came up for the week, but alas, on the 21st they decided to wait until December 2nd. My husband and sons were supposed to come up and join me, but without the appearance of babies, driving 12 hours for Thanksgiving dinner seemed a bit silly, especially since my brother, who knew we were coming, never extended an invitation.
This would be the same brother to whom I’d opened my home two years ago for the week of Thanksgiving. He and his wife chose to stay in a hotel, but every day, I took them sight-seeing, out to dinner, to craft breweries, and on his birthday, out to a great dinner and then a piano bar. On Thanksgiving, he and his wife joined us and many of our friends for a Thanksgiving feast. I even extended an invitation for the following year. But this year, when the tables were turned, I didn’t get an invite. I’m not sure why, and I don’t care about not getting an invite, but I’m pissed at myself for letting my mother guilt me into inviting him to go out with me and my sisters whenever I’m home. If I tell her we’re going to go and do something, she always asks if I’ve called my brother and invited him. Yet when the same situation presented itself in reverse, not a single word was said to him. As a matter of fact, my mother went and had dinner at his house.
I don’t take it personally. I can step outside of the situation and understand it says a lot more about them than it does about me. It’s the dynamic in its totality that always makes me contemplative. Perhaps it’s because my brother almost died when he was 16 and had a long, difficult road to recovery that my mother always puts him first. It could be that he’s always been her favorite, or that she grew up in an era where one puts men first. I don’t know, but in my house, that shit don’t fly. If we know of someone alone for the holidays, we invite them over. If a friend of a friend is going to be alone, we invite them over, too. Holidays are meant to be celebrated with people. It’s basic human decency; at least, that’s the way I see it.
Driving home, I wondered about Christmas. My sister always hosts, and we stay with her, but this year it won’t be the same. Something shifted in me this trip. That soft part of my heart solidified, and I’ve no desire to change it back. I’ll still have a great time with my sisters, I’ll have two granddaughters to shower with love, as well as my own kids to celebrate with, but the rest will be different. I know that I’ll be the one blamed for the difference, for holding myself apart, for being closed off and not extending myself, but I also know this time, I won’t care.
I wasn’t invited to Thanksgiving this year, and I realize what hurts is that it didn’t hurt.
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