I’ve written before (see here and here) about how glad I am that my children spent so much time with their cousins growing up, because I didn’t have that experience as a kid. But I do remember one Thanksgiving my family spent with my cousins. It’s the earliest Thanksgiving I remember—1958, when I was two-and-a-half years old.
My paternal grandparents lived in Seattle at the time, and Daddy, Mommy, my year-old brother, and I went to visit them. We stayed at their house for a few days over the Thanksgiving holiday.
My father’s sister and her family lived in the Seattle area also. My aunt had three children at the time—two girls who were four and two, and a baby boy who wasn’t even a year old yet. Although my brother had celebrated his first birthday and was walking, I thought he was almost as much a baby as my boy cousin.
I have two vivid memories of that Thanksgiving holiday. Both took place in the bathroom.
My brother, who had only started walking a couple of months earlier, had burned his hand a week or so before Thanksgiving. While he was toddling around our house, he pulled Mommy’s iron off the ironing board. It hit his palm on the way to the floor. It may have burned him elsewhere, but the hand was his worst injury.
I was with him when it happened. I was petrified when he started screaming. Mommy was not there—she’d gone to answer the telephone, leaving the iron on the board. (Bad Mommy, but these things happen.)
What was I supposed to do? Mommy had told me not to bother her when she was on the phone. But my baby brother was sobbing. I sat there, worrying about whether to go get her. Thankfully, Mommy came running right away, so my dilemma was quickly resolved.
On Thanksgiving, my brother’s hand was still bandaged. He wasn’t supposed to get it wet. He was in the bathtub before the holiday dinner. My two girl cousins and I were all in the bathroom watching. The cousins were asking questions—“Why is his hand all wrapped up?” “Why can’t he get it wet?” “When will it be better?” And on and on.
Mommy patiently answered their questions, and soon his bath was over. We all dressed in our finery for the Thanksgiving dinner. I had a pretty party dress to wear, and everyone said I looked beautiful. They probably told my girl cousins the same thing, but I don’t remember that.
Later in the afternoon, I had to use the potty. I was well along in potty training at two-and-a-half. I knew what to do and when to do it. But I used a potty chair at home. There was a potty chair in the bathroom at my grandparents’ home, but I wanted no part of it that day.
My four-year-old cousin didn’t use a potty chair, and I wasn’t going to either. I wanted to use the real toilet. I wanted to be grown-up like her.
So what if my two-year-old cousin still used the potty chair? She was littler than me. By two whole months. I was certain I could do what the four-year-old did.
So I tried. And promptly fell in. And got my pretty party dress all wet.
All the grown-ups laughed at me. I had to change into another dress, and was humiliated for the rest of the day.
Most of the people present that day have died. The cousins are still around, but I hope they have long forgotten my embarrassment.
Happy Thanksgiving to readers everywhere! Be grateful for family.