being a mom

Cheatsgiving: How To Pass Off Your Daughterly Thanksgiving Duties On Your Sister-In-Law

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Young woman standing in the kitchen and smilingI have a mother who was born to be a mother.  She is a nurturer like no other.  Like G.E. Phillips, some might say she babies us.  At Christmas she still buys a impressive amount of gifts for me and my two grown brothers.  It has only tapered off in the past three years since her grandbaby brood has multiplied from one to four.  She spoils our children the way she spoiled us into our 30s — and she loves it.

My mother hosts every holiday and special occasion at my parents’ house.  She cleans before and after, she buys all the food, she prepares every single morsel of food we eat.  She does everything.  Until the one year she couldn’t.

Three years ago my mother had an accident at work that not only left her physically compromised, but emotionally devastated. It happened in October and by Thanksgiving she was still out of commission.  She begged us to spend the holiday with other family members so that she wouldn’t have to deal with the disappointment she would feel in not preparing her traditional turkey dinner for us.  My brothers and I rebelled.  We would put on the Thanksgiving that she had given us for every year of our lives!!  We would pull together for mom.

The only problem?  We had no idea what the hell to do.  My mother had never even let us in the kitchen while she was cooking to peel a single carrot.  We didn’t have the first idea of how to start.  I went shopping and got the basics but my brother and I, both parents, stood there like dopey children staring at the grocery bags.  We both wondered who was going to go in and tell my mom that we had failed.  And ask whether she wanted Chinese food for dinner.  Enter my savior sister-in-law.

I will never forget.  She didn’t speak a word.  She grabbed the turkey off the counter, washed it, stuck her hand inside and got the party started.  When she finally spoke to my lame brother (her husband) and me, she told us exactly what to do.  Finally snapped out of our stupor, the two of us moved around her following her marching orders, supporting what felt like her herculean efforts.  Hours later, my mother emerged from her room and sat down at a table that could have been hers.  Without a single recipe or a single whisper of guidance from my mom, my sister-in-law pulled it off.

I’m grateful that the years of passing off the Thanksgiving torch are far in the future as my mom is crazy young.  But that year that she was out of the game was a real wake-up call. And I’m so thankful my sister-in-law stepped up where I was lacking.

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