If you think something wonderful or almost magical happens to people this time of year, think again.
Yes, many people develop a kinder and gentler spirit toward others, but some can suck the joy out of a holiday event like a high-powered vacuum cleaner.
I was listening to the radio recently and the guest was Judith Martin, the woman known as “Miss Manners.” She talked about how difficult some family get-togethers can be.
Some families have to negotiate arrival and departure times for divorced parents. They want to make certain they don’t cross paths in the front yard or anywhere in the subdivision.
For those who are married and both partners come from divorced homes, four complete negotiated arrivals and departures may occur.
Miss Manners said some adult children who are going to their parents’ homes will send lists of foods they don’t eat. If you don’t like Aunt Bertha’s beans because she cooks them with fatback, then just don’t eat them. Bring your own. If you’re not eating Mama’s turkey because it is not organic, then just suck it up and be happy.
My favorite story of Miss Manners did not involve anything that happened on the holiday. It was what came in the mail a few days later.
Somebody had the audacity to send their family members an invoice for their share of the food, and it included somebody’s grandmamma. I don’t care if grandmamma has more money than the bank; if you invited her to your house, she is a guest.
Miss Manners said the first time she heard this story, she thought it was a fluke. Now, she hears from someone every year with the same predicament.
I miss my mama and it is especially true around the holidays. One of these days, someone who you love dearly will be gone. Enjoy the moments while you can.
By the way, if grandma has been preparing the entire Thanksgiving or Christmas feast for as long as you can remember, then let her keep doing it. Some folks in this world have a limited number of activities, such as their weekly trip to the beauty parlor, watching Jeopardy and planning the holiday meal. She will work like crazy and be tired the day after the event, but it is one of those things that bring her satisfaction.
Now, if you arrive at her house and the turkey is still in the freezer or the fire department is cleaning up after the kitchen blaze, you might want to have a little chat. But if that’s not happening, let her keep on doing her thing.
And I don’t care what kind of diet you’re on, eat the congealed salad. There is something about people who are north of 70. They like little gelatin concoctions with fruit or nuts or something in them. Just smile and eat it. Do not make a comment about how good it is or you’re going to get a second helping.
One other thing happening more and more is people fighting over the leftovers. If you don’t get enough turkey or ham, then go by the supermarket and buy some more.
No one should get into fisticuffs over anything packaged in Tupperware.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.