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We are eating lunch. Henry picks at the PB&J he requested. I am devouring a freshly-made garlic and herb turkey wrap that I impulsively procured from a gas station deli. It tastes like manna from heaven. I am too busy stuffing my mouth to make conversation.

“Mom?”

I freeze, mid-chew. Oh no. Here it comes. Had I insisted that he try some, he would have refused. But when I’d rather not share, he decides he wants some.

“Can I have yourth?”

I hand him half my sandwich in silence, selfishly hoping he won’t like it and will hand it back. This is a good bet since it is stuffed with banana peppers, red onions, chopped lettuce and tomatoes.

He takes a bite, then nods his head vigorously. “It’th good.”

“Really? You like it?”

“Yup. Did you know dere’th bacon in dere?”

Why, yes. Yes, I did. Damn that delectable smoked swine.

I relinquish my meal with only the slightest hint of a grimace. “Good for you for trying something new.”

On the bright side: Less sandwich now means more Girl Scout cookies later…

My family is no more (or less) dysfunctional than others—like most, we have our secrets and quirks. However, on the holidays, we drag out our best behavior along with the good china and we gather together. Each of us strives to avoid the hot button issues that we know will ignite old arguments and we all uphold the small traditions to which we are accustomed, at least obligingly if not effortlessly.

As a teenager, I was far less accommodating. I would sulk in corners and make disparaging remarks, then disappear before the dishes were cleared from the table. I’m not sure how my parents withstood my insufferable attitude.

Now, with every passing holiday, I appreciate my family’s particular flavor of dysfunction a little more. Although I cannot dispute that we are an acquired taste, it is one that I prefer over any other.

My husband and I, along with Small, Medium and Large, celebrated Thanksgiving day with my parents, my sister, and my brother and his family. Our blessing went like this:

“BlessusoLordforthesethygifts,whichweareabouttoreceivethroughthybountythrough
ChristoLord,Amen.”

“Give food to the needy,” my mother added her normal intercession.

“And world peace,” my husband said quietly.

I shot him the Not Now look.

“Oh, yes,” said my mother, gathering momentum for a longer prayer. “And bring our troops home safely and….”

“Yes, yes. That’s fine,” my non-Catholic father interrupted. “Let’s eat.”

Driving home after feasting like Kings—an incredible meal that I know took my mother all week to prepare—I asked the kids what they were thankful for.

“Family,” said Liam.

“Yeah, family,” said Nora. “And for the stars.”

Pleased, I turned in my seat to look at our littlest angel.

“What are you thankful for, Henry?”

“I am thankful for….mythelf,” he said smugly.

I guess he hasn’t acquired the taste as yet.

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