The next day settled heavy in my heart. Thanksgiving. I felt a little guilty that I would be more thankful in Vegas- away from anyone related by blood or marriage. I don’t even like gambling, so this thought made me feel even more wretched.
I had to go. Thanksgiving was sacrificed to my in-laws years ago. Just as I vowed to love my husband until death did us part, I agreed to accompany him every November when he journeyed home for the holidays. (Christmas was given to my family. Hardly the portrait of “normal,” but at least they’ve never mud wrestled in the front yard like my brothers-in-law did last year.)
My mother-in-law is Greek and proud of it. To her, Greek isn’t a heritage or a nationality, it’s a personality trait. The gene possessed by every member of their very large family makes them boisterous, immune to embarrassment, and truthful without regard to tact, but also fiercely loyal and protective of one another.
Our first Thanksgiving, we arrived later than expected. I’d hoped we’d sneak in and go to bed, but when the door opened, I saw the party already in full swing. About eighteen people raised their 32-ounce cups of vodka lemonade slushies in a gesture of welcome.
“Who the hell are you?” Granny leaned forward in her wheelchair and studied us with squinted eyes.
“Your grandson. Who the hell are you?” My husband said as he bent down and kissed the woman’s cheek.
Her gaze rested on me.
“I-I’m with him.”
“Humph. That skirt makes you look fat.” She turned her head, dismissing me.
I dragged our luggage to the back bedroom and contemplated staying there.
“This damn house is too crowded. I want some fresh air, dammit!” Granny hollered.
“Harold, take her outside, will ‘ya!” My mother-in-law yelled back.
“I don’t wanna take her outside. The cranky old bat hates me!”
“She hates everyone. Take her outside anyway!”
After several minutes alone, I willed myself to join the crowd. It was probably half an hour later when my husband looked around the room.
“Hey, where’s Granny?”
Harold, my husband’s step-dad, shrugged his shoulders. “I took her outside.”
My husband ran for the front door, and I followed. Sure enough, the old woman sat hunched in her wheelchair on the corner of Naples Street and Melrose Avenue.
We’ve gathered for sixteen Thanksgivings since then. Granny passed away five years ago, but from that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.
This crazy story is inspired by Thanksgiving, and the Speakeasy weekly prompts: to write a piece under 750-words with some reference to a trailer of the movie, Home for the Holidays, and the following as the final sentence: “From that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.”
If you’re intrigued, check out Speakeasy and submit your own response to the prompt. The more the merrier!
While this story is fiction, the Greek-ness of my in-laws is very real. There are so many stories…but here is just one example:
I was so embarrassed, but can laugh now at the time we gave Granny a ride home from a family gathering. We had to stop for gas, and Granny wanted some cigarettes. My husband told her no because she wasn’t supposed to have them. When threatening to pee in our truck didn’t sway him, she started yelling that we were abusing her and wouldn’t let her out. People stared and my husband couldn’t get the windows up fast enough. I thought for sure we’d be speaking to the police that night, but we got her home without further incident. I come from a reserved family, so I’m often rendered speechless at the goings on!
I hope you have a beautiful week and remember to be thankful for family, both chosen and God-given. I am 🙂