This year was our first year eating Thanksgiving dinner with just us. “Just” is relative term when there are 13 people in our immediate family. On Thanksgiving last year, my extended family decided we were no longer welcome at their holiday celebrations. By Christmas, it was decided they would no speak to us at all. It was incredibly painful, more for the kids than for anyone else. Yes, I was upset, but for me, this had been a long time coming. It wasn’t for the kids. So it was a shock to them when family members decided they no longer wanted them in their lives either.
There were questions about it this year. “Will we be going to…” “Will we be seeing…” “Why don’t they like you anymore…”
There are too many of you. They don’t understand why we live this way. They don’t support us at all, yet they expect endless support in return. You’re too Deaf. Too black. Too opinionated. We’re too much for them, and when you’re too much for people, those people aren’t your people.
I do the very best I can to explain that in a way that makes this less about them and all on the other people involved. They’ve seen extended family rally for us too. I have cousins left who would walk through fire for us, who are there to celebrate every adoption, to support us through every surgery, and to come to every holiday.
Joe has a mom who drops everything to babysit, who loves our kids enough to learn sign for them. His aunt and uncle, who have no children themselves, were here yesterday, in our loud, rowdy house, visiting for as long as it was feasible for them. Before leaving, his aunt took my baby’s face in her hands and said “You are so special, I love you.” What a blessing she is.
My mom and dad still see them, and celebrate them, at every birthday. That means a lot to the kids. Other than that, there isn’t anything more we can ask. Life changes. In our house, it changes at a rapid pace. Sometimes, the changes mean we can’t be everything else other people need us to be. I have accepted that. All I can do is move forward.
People come and people go, but this family, right here, is forever. That is worth fighting for. So, this year, when it was time to actually sit down to eat, it was “just” us.
–FullPlateMom, who is grateful for us.