What would have been the most difficult aspect of saying no were the children. Although my husband and I had none until we later adopted a teenager, the other family members our age did grow families over those years, and the kids associated Thanksgiving with our home and with us.
The year I was sick and Thanksgiving was hosted by a sister-in-law, the children said it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving. When I suggested that the gathering was more comfortable at a house much larger than mine, one niece said the size of my house didn’t matter because it’s “where Thanksgiving lives”.
After that, each time I considered not hosting Thanksgiving, that little girl’s words rang in my head and I couldn’t say no.
By the year of the Nazi Thanksgiving, that little girl had 2 babies of her own and they were learning to believe that Thanksgiving lived at my house.
Besides our tiny house, I was the only wife in the family who worked full-time outside of the home and I worked very long hours. Squeezing a large Thanksgiving gathering into my already over-full calendar was exhausting. I grew to resent it terribly, but the resentment eased when the children — young and adult — arrived at my house where Thanksgiving lived.
Just three or four years after the Nazi Thanksgiving, they had to adjust to a new Thanksgiving locale because I left my husband and moved from our little country home to the nearby city where I work.
I haven’t seen anyone in his family for many years, although we all live and work in the same area. My sister and brother-in-laws’ children are in their 40s now and the children of those children are in high school and college. I don’t even know any of them and wouldn’t recognize them on the street.
All those Thanksgivings and, look, we don’t know one another.
Such is life . . .