Im torn between the lack of mental anguish at your parents' Thanksgiving dinner and the far superior turkey at mine

When Dave put a ring on my finger some 15 1/2 years ago, it didn’t come up.   Nor did it cross my mind when I found out I was pregnant with either brother.  But for all you youngsters out there considering marriage or children please know that you will be faced with this debilitating question each year until well, uh, forever.

Where should we go for Thanksgiving?

Some couples are very no nonsense about this issue.  One spouse claims the holiday as their own, end of story.  Honey, THANKSGIVING IS MINE.  You may have Flag Day and Boxing Day.  There is no discussion about where you went last year or who might be alone this year or whether the divorces stars are in alignment so that all the siblings can be together just this one year.  Every year, come hell or high water you are with the claiming spouse’s family.  What this approach lacks in fairness, it definitely makes up for in ease of use.

Another option:  For years my brother and his family would do two Thanksgivings.  His wife’s family always ate dinner in the afternoon.  They would celebrate with them and come to our gathering afterwards.  Did I mention that my sister-in-law’s family is Greek?  Let’s just say that we didn’t expect them to eat much when they arrived. To their credit, they tried to nibble.

We do our best to rotate, going up to New England to see Dave’s family for turkey every other year.  With divorced parents, I am always left with a bit of guilt regardless because there is always at least one parent I do not see on Thanksgiving.  I should be used to that feeling – and no one heaps any guilt on me but myself – but it always makes me a little sad.

So this year, it was out turn to stay home.  Often in those off years, my in-laws will come to Philly for the weekend, which is always a great deal of fun.  But Dave’s sister and her family decided to host at their house, leaving my mother and father-in-law in a quandary.  Where to go??  My sister-in-law issued the formal invitation first so they did the logical thing and accepted, hoping that we would make the trip.  We did not.  Next year, Mom.

As hard as it is to decide where to do Thanksgiving when you are married, it must be even harder when you have grown children – and they both invite you – and they live 350 miles away from one another.  One friend who shall remain nameless shared with me that her parents go to the daughter’s house whose in-laws they like the best.  Someday, when the brothers are old enough to host their own Thanksgivings, I might use that one. 

We were very lucky to spend Thanksgiving with my Mom, sister and brother, et  al this year.  Today my in-laws are driving that 350 miles to join us for left-overs and the rest of the weekend. Sunday, we will have brunch with my Dad.  Thankfully,  I don’t hold a monopoly on feeling guilty and usually by the end of the weekend, everyone is squared away and properly visited.  But not without a little bit of effort and an awful lot of driving.

 The decision on where to spend Thanksgiving is the most stressful part of the holiday for me.  Someone I love is almost always missing from my table.  Yet it does underscore the meaning of the of the day.  Having choices on where to celebrate … having different groups of people who love you and who you love… having to forsake pumpkin cheesecake for sweet potato and mini marshmallow casserolede… are the highest class problems to have.  For this, I am truly thankful 

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