Sunday, Nov. 28, 2004 | 8:32 a.m.

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Thanksgiving 2004

I imagine those of you out there not gettin' the love might be thinking, "That's all fine and dandy, but when's she going to post something else?" Today's your day! But if anyone missed out on the offer, click here.

And here's what's been going on in my neck of the, er, sand.

The plan had been in place for awhile -- we'd leave Wednesday right after Gab got home from school, spend T-day with my parents, then come home on Friday morning to see Jeff's mom (update! she pulled through and has moved to a new care facility down here in the Valley). Now you know what happens when there's a plan, right? That's right -- it goes from zero to shit in five seconds flat!

First of all, Jackie (that's the m-i-l) moved down to the Valley on Tuesday of last week. Jeff, being the dutiful, guilt-ridden son he is, felt that he needed to go see her "just to say hi" on Wednesday afternoon. It was a long, drawn out "hi" apparently and he didn't get home till two and a half hours after we were supposed to leave. Now I was already grumpy -- still sick and thinking about staying home anyway, sending Jeff and the girls to have turkey with my parents. Nina was cranky all day, and getting things ready to go was a challenge. So when Jeff strolled in at 5:00 when we were supposed to have left at 2:30, it's safe to say I wasn't really happy to see him.

Still, we managed to get out of here by 7 (which included the frenzied packing, a load of laundry and stopping to eat), and made it to my parents' house by 9:30 or so. Not exactly the nice evening I had planned, but that's all part of being married, isn't it? Forgive and... remind. Anyway, I still wasn't up to snuff, so I was in bed by 11.

Thanksgiving was okay. I still wasn't feeling good, hence, I got to be the sober person in a sea of pleasantly buzzed (and in some cases, downright drunk) people. Gabrielle spent most of the day across the street with her friend, Nikki, which was sort of annoying and yet simultaneously a relief because we didn't have to entertain her. My Uncle David and Aunt Deanna made a brief appearance, but judiciously left before my other relatives came. In fact, they didn't even eat and run -- they left the food they had contracted to bring before anyone ate.

The low point of the day, for me, anyway, was the appearance of my aunt's husband. He's technically my uncle, I guess, but I've pretty much stopped referring to him as such. Why? Well, let's say he was a little overfriendly when I was growing up. I really hate him, he's slimy and I don't even like him looking at my little girls. For sure he will never have the chance to be alone with either of them. Both parents apologized for inviting him, but unfortunately, it's hard to invite my cousin and my aunt without him coming along. Hard to do without a big confrontation, anyway, and no one wants to hurt Heather (my cousin, not the Heather that leaves comments from time to time), though I think Heather might already know. (Yuck, right? I know.)

Actually, this caused more angst for me than I think anyone realized. I am getting old enough that I don't think ignoring this particular elephant is doing anyone any good, but I don't have the courage to do anything about it yet. The problem, for me, is that bringing it into the open will probably mean a big, nasty rift in the family, some of whom already think I'm too big for my britches anyway. But it's coddling weakness, both in me and in the family -- such a huge weakness, but I don't think I'm ready to face it yet. Not this year.

So anyway, the food was great, my aunt's husband didn't really stay long, and I did get to spend time with the relatives I do like. My dad was rather amusing, until he decided to try to argue politics with me. It's bad enough to try to defend Bush to me -- he simply doesn't know the nuances of what's going on -- but to try to do it drunk, well, let's just say it was a good thing he decided to pass out. He lost badly, but mercifully for him, I don't think he remembers. The most disappointing part of the discussion was when he tried to trot out the old chestnut about Iraq being responsible for 9/11. Obviously dad doesn't read my journal.

All through the day I thought of Jasmine, but the worst was in the evening, when we sat down to watch the news. Scrolling through, my dad stopped on the local Fox affiliate. Their top story of the day on Thanksgiving? Some poor dad ran over his three-year-old daughter on Thanksgiving Day, and they felt they needed to not only show footage of the grieving dad, which in itself was enough to make me cry, but they also felt it necessary to show the bloodstain on the driveway and mention that she died of severe head trauma. Fuckers. Did anyone need to know that? My dad changed the channel, where the next news story was about a ten-year-old boy who had died trying to stop his uncle from shooting his mother. Great holiday in the Valley. After they dropped these nice little news bombs on their viewers, then they tried to run the warm fuzzy stories about what everyone is thankful for -- didn't quite wash for me. We turned off the news and watched "Man on Fire," a Denzel Washington flick about a former assassin who becomes a bodyguard for a little girl. The little girl gets kidnapped, is presumed dead and Denzel goes after the kidnapping network. If you've seen the ending, you might imagine it was hard for me to watch.

I went to bed right after that, and Jasmine's presence seemed to thicken and thin at the same time. All around were pictures of her, memories of holidays past and the time that we lived with my parents when she was a baby. Both rooms we sleep in when we are there are rooms she has slept in. Her ghost is everywhere. I hung on to Jeff's back, curled my fingers in the necklace of hers that he wears, and quietly cried myself to sleep. Thanksgiving was never the big traditional feast for us because Jasmine always seemed to be sick this time of year, but we did have a tradition of saying what we're thankful for, and I missed that.

I was sorely tempted to draw out Friday's time so as to encroach on Jeff's mom's time as he did on mine, just to be mean, but I didn't. After the night before, it just didn't feel right.

I guess this has been quite a bitchfest, hasn't it? Ah well, it's holiday time! People either go on at length about how much they love their family, or they go on about how they hate them. At least I'm somewhere in between.

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