Entry Thirty-eight: Thanks.

[I'm taking a break from the other stories to bring you this holiday-themed chestnut in seven parts. Today: 4 of 7]

Every year one of the cousins is going through their “invisible friend” phase so, on cue, my seven year-old niece did her part and told us she was thankful for “Beatrice.” It’s cute and it’s hard to be annoyed with it since she is so young. My brother tried it once, telling everyone at the table he was thankful for his friend “Sparky,” but it was creepy because he was 19 and in college.

My grandmother was next in line and she is a wild card because of her age. She just turned 96 and each year her answers have gotten more eccentric and, inevitably, funnier. There was a long pause while we waited for her to say something but she was staring at her reflection in her empty plate, making faces, amused and content. Father cleared his throat and she looked up, did a slow turn with her head, taking in everyone around the table, and then asked, “Why is everyone staring at me?”

“It’s your turn to tell us what you’re thankful for, Grammie.” My sister played the role of White Knight, trying to keep the momentum moving forward. Grandmother stared at her for several seconds and finally said, “Are we still playing that ridiculous game? I told your Father it was annoying the first year he came up with it. People want to eat, not talk! Apparently he doesn’t listen to his mother anymore.” She quickly looked away from my sister and resumed staring at her empty plate.

After a few moments of awkward silence, waiting for her answer, she blurted out, “Pass!” and continued looking down, defiant and obviously irritated. A few of the younger kids started laughing but were quickly shut down by glares and unseen grips on little legs under the table.

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle

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