I hate the whole preparation for this holiday: the sheer monotony of having “traditional” food and the resistance from those members of one’s immediate family who cannot tolerate the slightest variance from the ridges in the canned cranberry sauce, all the stores you have to go to, the slicing and dicing and making room in the fridge, all the expectations and subliminal messages.
I'm a reluctant matriarch.
Yet, it all turns out okay. My mother-in-law, that sweetheart, flies across the country to be with us. What a trooper! My husband is her oldest child. That's motivation enough, but she’s also very good about staying in touch with her grandchildren here. Her other children never left Memphis, so this west coast branch is decidedly different. My 14-year-old niece is active on Facebook. My son refuses to have a Facebook entry, and disapproves of mine. We don’t smoke or eat a lot of junk food. We exercise and recycle. Radical.
During her annual visit, she and I go to lunch, we shop, and we have cocktails. She’s open to some new experiences. I could take her to the Olympic Spa where Asian women purify and cleanse in rocking hot water. Then they lie naked on heated floor tiles to sooth away deep muscle aches. We could get a side-by-side massage from Korean women clothed in black bras and panties who’d scrub us down with salt or sugar and pummel us to within an inch of any fantasy of our choosing.
I think my mother-in-law might be willing to join me because she’s the true matriarch. I’m just her acolyte.