Letters to Holly

Monday, November 26

What You Missed at Thanksgiving

In convenient list form!

1) A surprisingly docile nephew. 
He handled the drive just fine. We stopped before we reached the interstate the first time because he spilled half his water on his car seat. We found a convenience store conveniently open and covered his soaked chair in oven baking bags (I suggested a deflated pool raft.). With his books and toys, he was fine to ride for seven hours. We got McDonald's for lunch -- after breaking his heart by finding a playground McDonald's just as it closed -- and got back on the road within a half hour. I like this version of the traveling deputy. He was only troublesome on the drive back when he fought his nap.

2) The closest I've ever seen Your Sister come to telling someone to fuck off.
As we neared dinnertime, the deputy asked for a cookie. Your Sis said no. Immediately, our sis-in-law and her mom petitioned. Protested, really.
"Oh, let him have just oooonnnne cookie."
Your Sis resisted. "He asked me, and I said no."
They kept at it. "Awwwww, just one cooooookieeeeeee. Awwwww."
She got mad. Tight-lip mad. "He asked me."
Now a cookie bit was being put in front of him as they asked again. Your Sis was steaming. The deputy took the bite, and the gals were delighted they could give it to him. Your Sister was livid. Again, never before have I seen her so close to beheading someone.

3) Our sis-in-law threw two tantrums.
She was, as ever, obsessed with documenting the event more than experiencing it. Except, of course, documenting something means you don't compose and arrange. Which she did. Matching clothes, matching pajamas, arranged plateaus of family. When she wanted a picture of the cousins and their parents, she went ballistic when the youngest niece didn't sit exactly right. That girl was immediately lost in silent despair -- the crying so wrenching that the kid can't make a sound -- and our sis-in-law stormed out of the room. She did the same when her mom "ruined" a video of the girls doing a cheerleading routine in front of the football score on the TV. The girls did it four times as she directed them in all minutiae.

She and her mom left for Black Friday shopping with the decree that we keep the deputy awake long enough to take another pic of him and the girls in matching PJs. I said this was feasible as long as she came back in an hour. No problem. But it was. They were gone almost three. I called an audible and took the pictures myself so my guy could get to bed before he fell apart. She complained about the photos. And she chided her eldest because she wasn't sitting like a lady. She's eight. In full PJs.

And she and her mom gave us shit for keeping our guy on a schedule. "Just one more minute!" "Just two more minutes. He can't wait two more minutes?" Nope, we're done. Also they gave us shit for not striving to preserve the Santa illusion. We were both asked what Santa was getting him for Christmas.
I said, "I'm not sure what we're getting him this year."
"You are aware there are kids in the room, right?"
"Yes. And they are screaming their way through a dance game."

They both wanted us too often to concede their points or agree just to be nice. "But don't you think [something something]?" No. "But don't you -- ?" NO. We don't. We'd say so if we did.

We've been polite in the past. We are their guests, and I am a nice guy by default. But fuck that noise. Is this how they win conversations with your brother?

4) The girls were fantastic with their cousin. 
As soon as we arrived, they led him to a playroom. They babysat him throughout the visit. They encouraged his play and investigations. They made sure he played nice and safe. They gave him first turn at new games. I cannot overstate how good they were in this. I would let them watch him anytime. They were great hostesses. I praised them a lot. They earned it, and it seemed sincere and effortless.

5) I never get to talk with your brother as much as I'd like.
We can't find good common ground to provide traction for a conversation. We try. It hasn't happened yet. I'll keep trying.

6) The deputy loves the mango strips.
They're his version of jerky. He chewed and chewed.

7) I dished about Mom's new guy as much as I was comfortable doing.
I didn't mention we're blood relation. I'll leave that to her.

The drive was good. The food was great. The time with Your Parents was good. Your aunt has stumbled into the zionist conspiracy theory without realizing she's parroting anti-semitic horseshit. The drive back was good. The gifts to the deputy were generous, and the wine was necessary. I'm glad we did it. I'm glad we're home.