You might remember Thanksgiving, when my aunt had designs on attending dinner at my brother’s house.
A dinner my brother wasn’t hosting as he planned on having dinner with our parents.
They just didn’t know he planned on having dinner with them.
It was like a Thanksgiving surprise party.
I was the only one who knew everyone planned on being at everyone else’s house for dinner, even though I was attending Thanksgiving elsewhere.
Not only did I set everyone straight, I wound up having Thanksgiving dessert with my family.
You know. Because of the prophecy.
Wait. You don’t know about the prophecy? The prophecy clearly stating I am to spend every holiday with my family?
Don’t worry, guys. It only applies to me. Not my siblings. That would be so unfair if it applied to all of us, right?
So yeah. Just me.
It’s never been made clear to me what happens if I miss a holiday. I imagine it to look like the humanity-ending comet from Armageddon and the absolute zero snowstorm in The Day After Tomorrow had a destructive little baby.
So, you know, I go. Even though every holiday I declare my resistance to the prophecy, complete with a petulant foot stomp. Can’t be all Cabin in the Woods bringing on disaster like that.
A Christmas dinner that didn’t exist.
So even though — yes, I was risking extinguishing life as we know it by having Christmas dinner elsewhere — I hosted an informal Christmas gathering for my grieving family before carrying out my own plans.
Which apparently met the standards set forth by that prophecy. The Earth still rotates.
Well, you guys probably know what I’m about to say.
Easter arrived, and it sent Uncle Ron off to join Indy at Marion’s bar in Nepal, and while everyone knew Easter dinner was getting served up by me at Willie’s, only three of us knew Uncle Ron was gone.
Well, two and a half of us.
We sat down to dinner — Willie, me, my daughter, my aunt — the same aunt with every intention of going to my brother’s for Thanksgiving and no intention of serving Christmas dinner. The same aunt who is Uncle Ron’s widow.
As I dished up dinner, my aunt — Uncle Ron’s widow — drew me aside and told me Uncle Ron was gone.
My gaze settled on my daughter. Like a deer detecting footsteps in the forest, her head bobbed. Her blue eyes met mine.
And I thought maybe — maybe I could give the kid a few more hours of blissful ignorance.
I assumed, I whispered to my aunt, that my siblings knew.
“Oh, I don’t know who your mother has told,” my aunt said.
I knew my siblings would not be told of Uncle Ron’s passing that day. My brother was kayaking — kayaking! — in Florida. And my sister seems to be held to the inverse of my prophecy — not only was she absent from Easter, but from our forlorn Christmas and Three’s Company of a Thanksgiving.
I texted my husband about Uncle Ron — he was working because someone has to fund my lavish attendance of all family holidays — and settled into dinner, pretending everything was fine.
But after dinner, I drew Willie into another room. I told her I knew.
“You know what?” Willie asked.
“I know,” I said, weighting my words like an angler weights fishing line.
“Know what?” Willie asked again.
And that’s why two and a half of us knew about Uncle Ron.
I threw my arms up in exasperation. “Willie!” I hissed, fearing my daughter would use that sixth sense all kids have when something they’re not supposed to hear is said. “I know. I know about Uncle Ron. Do the other kids know?”
Meaning my siblings. When you have multiple siblings, they’re always the “other kids.” Especially when you’re the oldest.
I asked Willie if my siblings knew about Uncle Ron. And that’s when Willie said — I swear on Marion’s bar in Nepal — Willie said she didn’t know whom my aunt had told.
Just to recap here — Willie thought my aunt would tell my siblings about Uncle Ron. My aunt thought Willie would tell them.
And I, once again, was the only one who knew.
Why, exactly, does this keep happening? My mom and aunt are sisters. They talk all the time.
I mean, maybe if their conversation centered less on the cosmic omens about me and the holidays, they’d have a better grasp of what’s going on with those holidays.
Just a thought.
My sister was informed the next day, but my brother’s Floridian respite meant he still didn’t know about Uncle Ron. For three days, I’d cautiously text him banal queries about his trip.
Hoping, of course, that someone else would deliver that blow. I didn’t want that to be my job. I’m already gainfully employed thwarting the extinction of planetary life by attending all family holidays. And anyway, do I — do I have to be the adult now?
Because I don’t think people who laugh at that joke I laughed at yesterday are allowed to be the adults in the room. Just, no.
Wednesday evening, my brother texted me a simple, “I know.” Having lived this experience with Willie, I knew that “I know” meant he knew and that now everyone who needed to know knew.
And that left just one thing.
For me to unknow everything I know. Everything the last few months have brought.
And, well, to make sure everyone goes to the right place come Memorial Day.