By George Flynn | Opinions Editor
Thanksgiving is always a riot at my grandparent’s house. My grandmother Florence, is the sweetest woman to grace the planet. And yet, without a doubt she will bring up morbid topics like the death penalty over mashed potatoes. My grandfather Andrew, will sit there in silence and give me side eye glances that speak a thousand words. The table usually is filled with 12 people, and a “kiddy” table of two, three including me. However this year, our own family tradition has begun to shrink.
My married cousin, Crissy who became a mother in May will be spending Thanksgiving with her new small family. My cousin, Mike will be spending Thanksgiving with his wonderful girlfriend’s family. The empty chair at Thanksgiving that will cause me the most pain, will be my sister’s, Jenna. She will be spending Thanksgiving with friends, as she must work the next day. I am happy for all my family members that are growing up and creating lives for themselves, but it has become painful to watch my large family get smaller as the years moved forward.
Despite this, I am starting to realize the positives of losing some relatives at this type of family engagement. Having a smaller group of people over for turkey can be just as exciting.
In this situation, I have the ability to look at my glass half full.
Although three important members of my family will be missing, that means three less stomachs to serve. Not to be selfish, but my younger cousins and I are bottomless pits who can take down a turkey by ourselves.
If family members are creating new lives for themselves and thus not coming home for the beloved holiday, that means more mashed potatoes, turkey and pumpkin pie for you.
Not only will I be feasting as much as my stomach allows, I will be closer to the food than ever before. With more available seating at the main table, the “kiddy” table will become a thing of the past. For the first time since I was eight or nine years old, I will be amongst the adults at the main table. I will be able to converse with my aunts, uncles and grandparents front and center and hopefully be viewed as an adult. Being able to make this transition from the “kiddy” table to the main table is a huge feat that I would have never been able to make without my older relatives forfeiting their chairs at the dinner table.
Another positive point which correlated with sitting at the adult table is being able to converse with family members. Sitting at the “kiddy” table, I recall feeling incredibly isolated from the rest of the family. My younger cousins Gabi and Brittany were always a blast and we always made our own fun, but expanding with the other family members is a whole new world. For the first time during this holiday season, I have the ability to share with the family my own life stories and experiences, whether they want to hear them or not. I will tell them about my friends, crazy extracurriculars and how much I enjoy life. Along with this I will finally have the opportunity to learn more about them, but from a different perspective.
The only drawbacks would be if they ask about my plans post-graduation, because honestly, I don’t have a clue.
Another positive to a small-scale Thanksgiving is that depending on your family members, you don’t have to dress up. With a smaller group of family members around, the pressure is lowered to look your best. I will most definitely be wearing a t-shirt this year.
My family is very important to me and although I will not be able to see all of them over Thanksgiving break, I must look at the situation and all the positives involved.
If you are going to be missing some favorite family members at your Thanksgiving dinner this year, you are not alone. Instead of moping over their absences, eat the food that they can’t and appreciate the members who are in attendance.
George Flynn is a senior English major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.