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A Weird Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, I’m reminded of the Thanksgiving not too long ago that went really, really wrong. I wasn’t the hostess so it wasn’t like I was the one who felt the bulk of frustration for everything that happened, but since the hostess was a friend of mine I could feel her frustration.

My friend always puts on a perfect event. She reminds me a lot of Martha Stewart in the sense that everything has to be perfect whenever she has people over. Our daughters were both about to turn three, and since we don’t have any family nearby she invited us over for Thanksgiving to join some other members of her family. It was a sweet gesture and we eagerly accepted the invitation.

When we arrived I noticed tension in the air immediately. It became obvious that her mother was driving her a little crazy. Every so often her mother would march up to my friend and tell her about something she was doing wrong. “Darling,” she would say, breathless and condescending, “don’t you think we should start seating the guests?” To this my friend would snap back, “Mo-ther, this is MY party and MY guests and I will do things as I choose!” Then she would take a deep breath and pleasantly announce that it was time to find our seats.

You have to understand that I grew up with very laid-back parents. I was also brought up as a strict vegetarian, so you can imagine what our Thanksgivings were like. Picture pizza and soda and lounging on a sofa.

I wasn’t sure how to react to the tension, so I ignored it. Then my friend’s mom brought me into it. “Tamsen, how old is your daughter? She must be older than my granddaughter.”

“No,” I replied. “Your granddaughter is actually a couple of months older than my daughter.”

To this she gasped and then dramatically declared, “My goodness! Your daughter speaks so much more eloquently than my granddaughter! I just can’t get over the difference!” She then turned to my friend and said, “Darling, doesn’t she speak really well?”

Through gritted teeth my friend replied, “Yes, Mo-ther, she speaks well.” You might think this would be enough to make my friend’s head explode, but her mother wouldn’t drop it. All through the meal, whenever my daughter would say something, my friend’s mother would make a face as though she had just encountered something fabulous.

My husband and I were incredibly uncomfortable. We started to make motions to each other that it was time to leave, when all of a sudden my friend’s daughter threw up all over the place.Not only did my friend shriek and lunge for a carpet cleaner she had in an adjoining room, but I swear her mother stood there with a look on her face that indicated that she was incredibly disappointed that her granddaughter would dare to throw up on such an important holiday.

We left soon thereafter. My friend never called me again.

I tried to call her a few times but she was very cold. I later found out through the grapevine that her daughter had delays in speech and was seeing a speech therapist, so I can only imagine how tough it was to deal with her mom lamenting about my daughter’s verbal ability.

This year we’re going to a different friend’s house, and my kids will be the only kids present. Unless my friend wants to compare her dogs to our kids I don’t think we’ll get another experience with fierce rivalry.

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