By: Ann Christine Tabaka
The sky was overcast all day. As darkness began to fall, the gloom deepened. A somber mood filled the room. Everyone just wanted the day to end. It was supposed to be a joyful time, a time of sharing and of love, but all families always seem to have some internal strife.
It was a Thanksgiving, unlike any that they could remember. No one wanted to be there. No one really wanted to travel in the first place. They all would have preferred staying home and eating in front of the television set, watching the game or the parade. If past Thanksgivings were any indication, there would be the normal political and religious battles, plus now there was something new to deal with, HIM. Why did Jon have the nerve to bring him to a family gathering? I mean, didn't he know that grandma and grandpop would be shocked and hurt? After all, they were strict Catholics that never missed Mass on Sunday and observed all the Holy Days throughout the year. They made sure that each of their children had a good Catholic upbringing and went to a parochial school. They also oversaw that the grandchildren followed likewise. To top it off, the weather was awful, and everyone was on edge.
Mother was in the kitchen, trying to ignore the entire situation as she basted the turkey and mashed the yams. Every so often, she would stop long enough to peek around the doorway and see how things were progressing. So far, there were no outright fights, just silence. Silence from everyone; the television blared in the corner while the family pretended to act like no one else was there. Jon sat in the two-seater with Jim sitting close by. They were holding hands and smiling shyly at each other, happily in love.
Finally, father couldn't take it anymore. He decided that it was his place as the patriarch of the household to speak up. Jeanie and her husband Tom looked at each other tentatively and gulped as they watched father stand up and approach Jon and Jim. After standing there for what felt like forever, father cleared his throat and finally had the nerve to say something. Then the words came. "How could you? How could you bring such a disgrace on this family? Especially today of all days." Father started to turn red with anger and continued. "You know that grandma and grandpop will be here soon. You know how much this will hurt them. Couldn't you have waited until some other time to bring this, this person into our home?"
Jon let go of Jim's hand and stood up to meet his father face to face. "Dad, please give Jim a chance, give US a chance. Once you know him better, you will learn to love him as I do; I know you will. I tried dating girls like you expected of me, and it was always a miserable failure. Jim is who I want to spend the rest of my life with. He is an honest, caring, hardworking, and intelligent person. Please give him a chance."
Just then, mother came out of the kitchen and called to father, "I need some help in here, George, please come into the kitchen." George turned around and walked slowly into the kitchen, like a scolded puppy with his tail between his legs. Martha said, "George, you have to let out children live the life they are meant to live. Don't you remember how hard it was for us? Your Catholic grandparents thought that I was Satan himself since I am Jewish. And yet, you loved me, and we raised a beautiful family together. Times have changed, and we need to learn to accept that." George replied, "Yes, but my parents will be here any minute, and how will we deal with that? What are we supposed to say to them?" Martha replied, "George, take a deep breath. Sometimes you might be surprised at what love can bring about."
George sulked off back into the living room and sat down in front of the television, trying to ignore the rest of the family. All he could think about was how is he going to try to explain this to his elderly religious parents when they arrived. Jeanie and Tom wished that they had not come this night. They should have thought of some sort of excuse. As the night grew darker, so did the atmosphere within the house.
At five p.m., the doorbell rang, and George tensed up as he rose to go answer it. He took a deep breath and straightened his shoulders as he opened the door. His mother and father walked in all bundled up against the chilly evening. Catherine was carrying her famous pumpkin cheesecake, and Henry had a twenty-year-old bottle of exquisite port wine. George held his breath as his mother walked by Jon and Jim, bracing for the storm. He expected the worst. Jim stood up, walked over to Catherine, and took her hands in his. He smiled and looked into her beautiful green eyes and said, "It is so good to finally meet you, grandma." Catherine smiled back and gave Jim a great big hug and replied, "I am so happy to finally see you face to face, dear grandson." George just about keeled over and fainted. Henry walked over next to him to steady his son and said, "We have been chatting with each other for several weeks now on that new-fangled Zoom thingy."
Everyone gathered around to hug and kiss and chat. Then from the wisdom of the ages, Catherine said, "Love is love, in all its many forms, and you cannot deny love."