They're the family,
so we keep trying.

Family is the darnedest thing, ain't it? Buncha people who sprang from the same parents or grandparents, that's all, and there's no choosing who's family, only choosing who's close and who's distant.

For the Hollands, we all sprang from Mom, and she's stubborn and difficult, sometimes demanding, but she's basically a nice lady.

Then there are the siblings, and I love 'em all, but except for my sister Katrina, they're not people I'd choose as friends. Clay is far, far too religious for me, with prayers and blessings and more prayers and miracles. Dick is shallow, either as a choice or a front, and talks only of sports and music. Hazel is in a nursing home, taken care of, and can't really have a conversation. Ralph is dead.

Then there are all the in-laws and the next generation of Hollands, none of whom I'm particularly close to or even comfortable around. Clay's boys, for example — they're all grown up with wives and families of their own, and I'm still never sure which of my brothers' sons is Michael and which is Tom, and which of their wives is the anti-vaxxer.

And yet, they're family. I'm supposed to love em, and I do love the immediates, and like most of the extendeds. Tomorrow we'll gather for Thanksgiving, or at least a few of us will.

Clay and his family will be gathered elsewhere. Dick and his family won't be there. Hazel won't be there, though we might visit her afterwards. Most of the nieces and nephews have other plans.

Mom wouldn't miss it, of course.

My sister Katrina will be there, and she's funny, snappy, and smart. She'll probably bring her forever boyfriend Max, a guy I like, but we've never yet clicked. Katrina's buddy Adelle will probably be there.

My nephew George says he'll be there, and he's touchy, prone to temper, but usually fun. He'll bring his wife, whose name I've forgotten, but I like her because she's introverted like me, so we've never much talked.

Anna, my brother Ralph's widow, will be there, and she's always outspoken and enjoyable, but she'll probably bring her son, Ernest. I've only met him twice but I've got him snap-judged as sorta pushy and very Republican.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and those of us who want to be there — which includes me, honest — will meet at the buffet, same as last year. I expect our Thanksgiving will be… OK, same as last year.

And a few days ago I emailed invitations to a special Friday get-together at the diner, especially for the people who can't make it on Thursday. No turkey and gravy, just the restaurant's regular menu, but I thought it might be nice to see the family who don't usually come to the family events. 

As yet, nobody's said they'll be there.

♦ ♦ ♦

Couple of days ago, riding a mostly empty bus, the driver was an ever-bubbly black woman. We've ridden together before, and she's usually chatty, so she asked my plans for the holiday, and I asked hers. We had a nice, six-block conversation.

Then I rang the bell to get off, stood up waiting for the bus to stop, and she said, "Well, I hope you have a real nice holiday with your family."

"You too," is what I was supposed to say, but instead I said, "That's never happened yet."

"But they're the family," she said without a moment's pause, "so we keep trying, and one of these years we'll get it right."

And I laughed, and she laughed. I said, "Happy Thanksgiving," stepped off the bus, watched it roll away, and wondered how the hell the woman knew my family so well.



  1. I guess you missed the Seattle Times article about your family.


  2. Nice family report, and I REALLY like that bus driver! I divorced myself from my family back in the mid-70s and never looked back. So, no holiday BS for THIS bedraggled pilgrim.

    1. There are half a dozen bus drivers I'm happy to see, because they'll make the ride more interesting. She's one of them. There are also a few so constantly cranky it's a different kind of fun.

      Fifty years without your family? If it's better that way, of course that's the wise thing to do. I made it about thirty years before coming home.

      You ever check on 'em to see who's dead and who's still annoying, or are they all bygones you're happy are bygones?


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