With just the two of us, my sister and I understand the whole fifty-fifty thing pretty well. Through the years we've amicably handled the honor-bound duties of parental obligation and niece and nephew fairness. You know, agreed upon attendance of her kid's piano recital or my kid's sporting event. "Is Aunt Kim coming?" "You bet your sweet ballerina slippers she is!" Or mandatory birthday parties, even when it's a lame-themed year. Ever tried roller-skating in a Ninja Turtle mask? Nevermind. The point is, I was there.
You do your part. You play fair. You take your turn. This doling out of familial responsibility has always been an easy give-and-take. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Mom needs a ride to her colonoscopy and Dad's looking for a place to stay on his way down to Florida. We can work this out. Piece of cake.
Cake, yes. But, now pumpkin pie is a whole different story.
Any good working relationship will have its hiccup. For us, those choppy waters start to swirl in the weeks preceding Thanksgiving. The dreaded holiday hosting decision is upon us. Let's just say that when it comes time to decide whose turn it is, we don't draw straws.
Barter, bargain, bribe. There's not a lot of room for courteousness and fair play when it comes to the holiday to-do list. Somebody's Berber carpet is at stake here. Gather ‘round the negotiation table and let the Thanksgiving Conference commence. Somebody take minutes please, because if I get stuck again, I want it on record.
I have spent the better part of 40 years protecting and looking out for my kid sister. I'd do anything for her. Except host. When it comes to this, I can't save her. She's gonna have to carry her own weight. All's fair in love and war and whose house for the holiday.
I can't rightly put a finger on the root of our hosting anxiety. Maybe it was the year the cousins cleared Mom's front yard for a kickball game by sticking her beloved Jack Russell in the car where he quickly ripped up the dash. It wasn't ten minutes before we noticed him missing, but they are an energetic breed. Mom is long on forgiveness, though, and she carried that hosting torch for many a season. Granny didn't take her hat out of the ring until that Easter one of the grands peed in her potted ficus.
Picky eaters may require adjustments. Meat eaters, plant eaters, hold the mayo! You've got your smokers and your nonsmokers. Now you're in charge of seating arrangements!
Stay on the host's good side, because there are seats still open at the little table, mind you.
At least our husbands get along. They'll share a six pack and watch the Lions lose any day. It's just more fun on Thanksgiving, I guess.
So, I'm wary now, a little on edge. But it's an adrenaline edge and I think it's working for me. You've got to be on guard in the pre-planning stages. The call could come at any time, day or night. And she's good. She will come at me with something easy, predictable. The weather, maybe. She'll coax and lure like a fox if you're not on to it. Some sympathetic story that'll put me into a compassionate lull and Bam! Point blank, she'll bring it up. Then you're flustered. You're, you're, you're fiddling, fuddling. You can't get the words.
"So, I was thinking we'd have Thanksgiving at your place this year?"
I've got nothin'. No defense. I'm speechless. We've done this song and dance for so long now, it's practically tradition.
"Okay, sure Sis."
Rachelle Krampe is a Franklin resident who was formerly a humor columnist for the Daily Herald in Columbia, Tennessee for seven years. She has also been published in the Chicago Tribune, the Tennessean and the Memphis Commercial Appeal. This is the first installment of what will be her monthly humor column in the Franklin Favorite.