Posted by Duff

Based on the holiday reviews I’m getting from friends, family drama starts young.  We’re talking pre-kindergarten.  You’ve heard of the terrible twos (and many of us experienced terrible threes), but a wise mom I know coined this current phase the f*^k you fours.  If you’ve been here, you know what she means.

I’ll be honest, though. Whether it’s The Dervish who’s mellowing out as a person, or me mellowing out as a mom–used to a child who never dissolved into tears, but instead was more likely to erupt into a tsunami–I’m not sure.  But as long as I expect a little abuse, what is dished out (lately) along with the cranberry sauce and stuffing, is mercifully less traumatizing for both of us than I’d expected.

I think it has a lot to do with expectations, with the relative behavior of the previous four years, years during which bystanders commented on the fierceness of my girl, worded as their appreciation for her moxie. We all know what that means, don’t we?  Let’s just say what takes other people by surprise, at least where she is concerned, flies below my radar. She, a future poet I’m sure, is the girl who cried Life.  And fruit snacks. And Barbie Fiat.

So maybe our Thanksgiving was bookended by ferocity: a day before, The Dervish traded face kicks with her brother while I shopped for canned pumpkin and paper towels, drove herself mad in anticipation of playing with her cousins for hours, and the day afterward told her father ‘You don’t love me. You never let me do what I want and you’re not my best friend and I don’t love YOU.’ My husband, by profession, is used to dealing with the irrational and belligerent. Who would have expected this slur to cling to him like al dente spaghetti?

But I knew this was coming–par for the course at holiday time–with a bonus: Because both The Dervish and Atticus, though overstimulated and under-napped and sticky, when it counted, ate meals quietly and neatly and over a period of moments long enough for me to eat a meal with adults and enjoy a wonderfully paired red wine.  This never, never happens at dinner time in our home.  And when it did happen this past Thursday, I couldn’t have been more thankful.

Here’s to the upcoming holidays!  May they be merry. And bright. May you taste the food you spent so much time cooking with love and remember how you could barely contain yourself within your skin this time of year when you were a child. And may I remember, too, with the help of all things peppermint, snowflake and evergreen. And cocktails. Cheers.

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