If you have read Part 1 and Part 2 of this story, then you’ll know what happens next.
Happy Gluten Free Thanksgiving!
“NO!” My brain wanted to shout.
It was, indeed. A Thanksgiving Traditionalist nightmare.
“Well, people all over the globe eat this way.” I told myself.
“Actually, yes. Africa, Asia, South America, Antarctica…”
Look, if you have to hold Antarctica up as an example to defend your menu and food choices, then something is seriously wrong with your life. And besides, those continents don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.
But truth is truth, and facts are facts. We couldn’t go anywhere to eat anymore. Not with Stella and her Celiac Disease. Even if we packed her a dinner from home and went to Grandma’s, we would have to follow her like hawks to make sure she didn’t toddle over to the buffet or the cookie trays and eat something that would cause her hours of screaming and pain.
We would have to stay home and make our little family a Gluten Free Thanksgiving.
“Well,” said my mom. “If you’re not coming to our Thanksgiving dinner, then we are coming to yours.”
“Really?” I was surprised. “You guys would do that for us?”
I have a big family. Some of them are normal. They’re the in-laws.
The rest of us are like the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota… our lives are messy, tangled up together, bumbling around, having fun and in each other’s business all the time. Oh, the year this story takes place, we have, collectively, seventeen kids under the age of twelve.
One of those kids was my newly-born son, so I was busy with diapers and nursing and ‘new mom narcolepsy’. All that meant is that I was so fatigued every minute that I could, and often did, fall asleep mid conversation. Pardon my drooling. I have six kids, my thyroid just quit and my dog chewed another hole through the drywall. Would you like to come to my house for your Thanksgiving celebration? This would have been a great sacrifice for anyone, even without the gluten free part.
My poor sisters in law. They are both from families with much more decorum and manners. The rest of the bumblers I didn’t worry about. They were used to adapting. And besides, most of them are kids. They won’t even care if there is no stuffing or bread or pumpkin pie.
They have each other.
And that, after all, is the whole point of it. Thanksgiving or any holiday… the idea is to be thankful for each other. It’s not about the turkey, or the particular recipes you cherish, or the traditions and china plates passed down through the generations. It’s about being thankful for each other. And that’s what my extended family did that year. We let go of our expectations and our traditions, and we were glad that we had each other.
Doug made a feast of roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, corn bread stuffing, all gluten free and delicious. One brother and his wife brought cinnamon ice cream. Another brother and his wife brought paper plates, cups, and plastic silverware, which meant no one had to do the dishes. My sister made a mountain of veggies, freshly steamed and drizzled in butter and almonds. Sixteen little kids had the time of their life, playing hide and seek in every nook and cranny of my house. The dog ate scraps, cleaning the floor with great joy. I sat on the couch with the baby, a fatigued but grateful beached whale, sleeping.