She leaned in through the kitchen door tentatively. She had her scarf, coat, boots and hat all organized. She drew in a chunk of air through her nose and into her chest. Then she mustered as much lighthearted cheer and walked purposefully in.
“I’m off, Mom. I said good-bye to Dad already.” She came up behind her mother, who was busy tidying up at the sink. She gave her a peck on the cheek and a bear hug.
“Oh, where are you off to?”
“Remember, I had told you last week, we’re all going to Will’s place down the street. Sort of like a mini high school reunion, now that most of us have come back for Thanksgiving.”
“Ah, yes. I’m sure the Bensons have a full spread for their Thanksgiving. It’s Will’s favorite kind of meal,” she remembered.
“Yup. Turkey, sausage stuffing, and all, Mom.”
Then, she added feigning nonchalance, “I might have some myself,” and eyed her mother on the corner of her eye warily.
Her mother turned around and looked directly at her. “Really now. So, you’re still carnivorous, huh?”
“A long time ago, Mom. And I know you don’t like to hear it, having raised all of us to only eat plants. But I’m an adult now, with a job and my own apartment. And I am entitled to eat what I want,” she explained gently.
Her mother looked away and faced the window about the sink. She went back to wiping the counter top. She started to slowly shake her head, her shoulders hunched.
She walked closer to her mother and gently stroked her back. “It’s okay, Mom. I’ll be all right. I appreciate what you have done all these years. I know how strongly you feel about this. I get it. You are a big authority on Vegan nutrition, especially at the university. But, I have made this decision a long time ago and I have told you about it while I was still in college. We’ve had this conversation before, Mom.”
“I can’t help but wonder if Adam put you to it,” referring to her boyfriend.
“No one put me to it, Mom. I made this decision long before I met Adam. I resent that you would even think this way about Adam. I’m my own person. I make these decisions for myself. Look, we all appreciate the lengths you go to just to make our Thanksgiving dinners as close as possible to what the Pilgrims had: the stuffed squash, roasted eggplant, lentils, and all that. And they’re really tasty and flavorful. But, I want to eat meat every now and then. I think it’s healthy too. My decision has no bearing on your chosen lifestyle or anyone else’s.”
Her mother looked her way, still troubled but silent. She heaved a sigh and walked to the broom closet. The daughter walked away and marched to the front door.
It’s very hard when family members are at odds with some overarching values: The ultra conservative right-wing patriarch and the LGBT offspring. The oil and gas executive and the near-fanatic environmental activist sib. The white supremacist grandparents and the granddaughter engaged to a Kenyan. The Baptist minister whose son wants to marry an atheist, or at the very least, an agnostic. The doctor whose daughter refuses to have her children immunized, touting every single ill from ADHD to Autism as unintended consequences of childhood immunizations, in spite of data on the contrary. The Jehovah’s Witness parents and the newborn with a life-threatening cardiac anomaly in need of emergency surgery that will entail going on the blood pump. The Saudi guardian and the feminist student. The list goes on.
I believe that the biggest driving force to the segregation, the carve outs, the lines drawn, the peacock posturing, is fear. Fear is such a raging tyrannical and overgrown misfit in all its irrationality and contagion. It comes with its close cousins, jaded bias and malicious prejudice.
Just look at Ferguson in the last few months, last night, and today. Sanford. Oakland. There’s a lot to be troubled about this week when we are supposed to be giving thanks.