Our Thanksgiving Gift

shymilfromchiDecember 1, 2011

I woke up one morning realizing that I had become the family

Matriarch. That awesome title suggested setting an example or

perhaps bearing some responsibility. But for what? Does it now

give me the right to criticize someone for using the wrong fork?

May I no longer act irresponsibly? No, it turns out that it means

that the daughter of the Matriarch wants to take on the "doing"

of the holiday feast. The Matriarch, and the Patriarch who

lives with her, are only responsible for bringing the turkey and


The dinner table was beautiful, all of the dishes actually

matched and all of the goblets were the same size. Martha

Stewart had given me, the former hostess, permission to

"mix and match".

As the cousins and in-laws assembled, we realized that there

was an empty chair between the Matriarch and the daughter.

Thinking daughter had made a mistake, no one mentioned it.

It was getting to be a little later than the planned sit-down;

we started, so the food would remain viable. Frannie gave the

blessing and we all agreed that we had many reasons to be

thankful. The door bell rang, and in came a beautiful, classy

Muslim woman. Adah was a student of Claudia's, who teaches

ESL (English as a Second Language) at a nearby university.

Claudia had seated her between us in case there was any

prejudice against her. She needn't have worried; the room was

filled with welcomes.

Adah called Claudia out to the kitchen for a private conference

and when they returned, Frannie was asked to repeat the prayer.

Being a very sensitive person, she did repeat her prayer of

gratitude, but left out the reference to Jesus.

Adah looked on, sometimes with puzzlement, as the same old

family stories were retold, eliciting much laughter. All of a

sudden, I realized that I was sitting next to a woman from

Turkey who was eating a bird known here as the turkey. Of

course, someone pulled out a pocket computer to find out why

the bird was given that name. Adah asked for the recipe, so she

could prepare it for her family in Turkey.

The eating was over and the guests retired to the livingroom,

our hostess to the kitchen, and I started to take dishes to the

dishwasher. Adah asked that the table not be cleared of the now

empty dishes so that she could take pictures of it. All of a

sudden, she asked me to say something and I realized that

she had audio in her camera. Since it didn't seem feasible for

even the shyest of Matriarchs to dive under the table, I

mumbled some inane thing, wondering if someone in a far

country would come across this years from now.


Claudia and Mark's Shitzu, super-friendly puppy, was allowed

in and then we realized that Adah was showing fear. We had

forgotten that dogs are thought of as unclean in the Middle

East. At our urging, Adah at last put out one finger to touch the

dog, she found it so soft and friendly, and acknowledged that it

probably wasn't going to eat her.

Cousin Eve drove Adah home and on the way asked her what

she enjoyed most in her year in Chicago. Adah said, her

evening with us. She had arrived late as she had hesitated to

come at all. She had envisioned a very formal dinner as she

had seen in English films portraying upper-class people in the

late 1800's and early 1900's being very proper. She made our

holiday unusual and very special; she was our gift.

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What a great story, shy, you surprise guest certainly was a gift, but so are you and your family. Quite a crew to steer as Matriarch, I am one also, but of a much smaller family, not as close-knit, scattered all over, but Matriarchs have rank!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2011 at 2:39PM
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Matriarchs are matriarchs because we love you so much and want to give back what you have given to us. It is our turn now. It's supposed to be that way. Oh how lucky Adah was! I bet she knew it. I can fully sense you were proud of all of your welcoming family, and that's just exactly what a matriarch does. You're a natural! Sit back and enjoy the very amazing fruit of your labor. Children, all children, are a blessing. Including Adah!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2011 at 4:11PM
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What a wonderful gift you and your family gave to your surprise guest, and in turn, she gave one to all of you by her acceptance and enjoyment at what must have seemed strange to her.

Shy, I, personally loved the part where the "daugter of the Matriarch wants to take on the part of doing the feast." Now, that I think of it, I, too, am the Matriarch of my family and will gladly become just a guest--welcome, I hope--at family gatherings! :>)

    Bookmark   December 1, 2011 at 6:00PM
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That is such a nice story. Kudos to you and your daughter, you willingly passed the baton to her and she is doing great. A Matriarch in the making.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2011 at 7:17PM
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Sounds like a great Thanksgiving, glad you could enjoy the new experience.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 11:47AM
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