“But why don’t we travel for Thanksgiving?”

I asked that question a lot as a kid.  All the kids at school would disappear on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (we still had to go to school on that day back then) and I would hear all about how they travelled to some far off place to visit relatives and how great it was.  I was always jealous because I wanted to travel too.  Why didn’t we go see Grandma and Grandpa, and Aunt Her and Uncle Him and Cousin Whoever?  It seemed like I was the only person in the school who stayed home and had turkey with the immediate family.

It wasn’t until I reached high school and started to learn more about my extended family that I realized I had it pretty good.  Turns out there are reasons my parents decided to move hundreds of miles away from their relatives.  And as I started to get to know other kids’ families, I found that living on one plot of land with thirty relatives isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  I live in a small, rural Southern town and I know many people who have extended family living nearby and, bless their hearts, the horror stories I’ve heard!  Everyone is in everybody else’s business and trying to tell everybody what to do and if you don’t like one of them, too bad.  They’re still going to come over uninvited and tell you how you should be living your life.

I’ve learned to appreciate the small, quiet Thanksgivings with my parents and brother.  Now that my brother is married, we do have extended family over.  Thank God it’s just them, though.  My sister-in-law moved far away from her family for some of the same reasons as my parents. 

So this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for many things (including the small ones) but a big one is the fact that I didn’t have to deal with all that extended family drama when I was growing up.  I don’t know what my future in-laws will be like but for now Thanksgiving is a pretty stress-free affair.  I’ll raise a glass to that.