every year i do the same thing at thanksgiving - go to my in-laws. except for the years i chicken out or get "sick". usually, though, i go. the first one was 28 years ago. the sister-in-law told jewish jokes at the dinner table stating she heard them from the doctors she worked with.. she obviously doesn't know what everyone else seems to - members of a minority group (and i am jewish, and gay) can make jokes about the group, but others cannot. connie knew i was jewish. to say we got off to a bad start would be an understatement. to my mother-in-law's everlasting credit, she defended me, and a rift was created that lasted quite awhile. i was happy my m/i/l took up for me, but not about the rift, having come from a family full of rifts.
after a couple of years, we went back - they being the only local family either of us had. connie's been nicer, and i've always been guarded. and she's also not been so nice. one year, i answered when she made her annual invitation call. being a decent baker, i offered to bake a pie, really wanted to contribute. as a reward, i was uninvited, connie stating she just didn't "feel comfortable". second rift. my partner's mom had passed on, but my partner took up for me and she didn't go either.
then invited back again. you can see why some years i just didn't go. this year i actually felt stronger about going - one of the nieces had lost a daughter earlier in the year and i wanted to be supportive. the kids have always been nice to me.
and it was this niece that showed me why i'll never fit in. i tried to pick up some empty plates and carry them into the kitchen. the niece very nicely stopped me and insisted she take the plates, that i was a guest. and that's when the lightening bulb went on - after 28 years, i shouldn't be a guest, i should be seen (in an ideal world) as family. and i'm not. actually, figuring this out feels good, it helps me understand why i've felt guarded. so i don't have to be anymore.