To Grandmother’s House for the Holidays

The tree is up and decorated
the presents are wrapped
the table is set with the best tablecloth
good china and crystal
the silver is shined

The aunt from Orange County
is making her famous pumpkin pie
The cousin from L.A.
his famous salad
The uncle is bringing
his famous cranberry relish
and the niece, her famous sweet potatoes
The children are bringing
only their famous children

While I have in the oven
a not-so-famous turkey
with non-famous stuffing
and boring, but good-for-you, vegetables

The guests are cheerful and noisy
the children at the children’s table
have only one fight and no one cries

We eat a lot and drink a lot
and raise our cholesterol levels
The children get apple juice
and clamor for pizza
which, being a good grandmother
I have in the freezer

We talk and laugh and gossip
about those not there
They all leave with leftovers
in empty cottage-cheese containers
saved for the occasion
with sleepy children in their arms
and then I’m left with
three loads for the dishwasher
a tablecloth with gravy spots
and candle drippings
ribbons and torn wrappers
some of which I fold and put away for next year
half-eaten candy in an ashtray
jam on a chair
one shoe under the sofa
something spilled on the rug
a traumatized dog
and one exhausted grandmother

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