Turkey, stuffing and too much family on the side - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Turkey, stuffing and too much family on the side

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Lynne D. Schwabe Lynne D. Schwabe
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Lynne D. Schwabe was owner of Schwabe-May of Charleston, ran her own marketing consulting firm and is a nationally recognized motivational speaker. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Women's Wear Daily and has appeared on CNBC's Power Lunch. She currently is director of development for the National Youth Science Foundation. She can be reached at schwabestatejournal.gmail.com.

There isn't one celebrity interview or profile that leaves it out. Every Oscar and Emmy winner thanks it. We pay homage to it in poetry and song. And I am getting just a little bit fatigued by all of this "family worship."

I have a family. There are lots of great people in it. But really, those same great people can be royal pains in the neck, if you catch my drift. And I think you do, because if asked with whom they would most hate to be stranded on a desert island, almost everyone picks a relative.

Mothers-in-law can be real stinkos. I know of one who insists that everyone has to eat the oyster stuffing at Thanksgiving, even though she is the only person for miles who doesn't gag at the thought. And remember the white glove test? Ok, that was my mother, not my mother-in-law, but still.

Have you ever had a girlfriend tell you that you look like a clown in your favorite polka dot top? Of course not! Only your children do this. And this honesty extends to critiques of what you cook ("this tastes like cardboard,") and what you buy ("only young girls should wear Uggs,") to what you say ("‘Fudge' instead of the F-word? Grow up, Mom"). 

Ever asked a man if you look fat in something? I learned when I was 12 not to ask questions like this. But, if you should lose your head and ask such a question, what is it that makes that man think he has a get-out-of-jail-free card so that he can say whatever he wants? 

"Well, hon, you haven't been going to gym lately…" is never a good way to start a conversation. "I'm only trying to be helpful," adds insult to injury.

I get a catalog filled with cute garments, suitable for women over 50. I drool over it for a while and then realize that it's filled with young, pencil-thin models, wearing false eyelashes. The editor of the catalog got what he/she thought was a great idea: on every page, one of the models is asked a question — what is your favorite food? What do you love to do the most in winter? What was your favorite birthday gift? And, of course, the editor also wrote the answers. I know this, because svelte model's favorite food isn't likely to be her mom's mac and cheese. And sitting by the fire in the winter, playing Monopoly with the family leads to arguments, not happy memories. And as for the gift, I'd bet money that all those models have Rolex watches that their boyfriends got them. Her mother's hand-knitted sweater? Not on the top 10 list, surely.

It may be the approaching holidays that are turning me prickly. It's inevitable that family gatherings will produce at least one slightly drunken argument, grease stains on my favorite linen napkins, marathon viewings of every holiday TV movie that the Lifetime channel has ever produced (ok, that's not too bad, actually), thousands of excess calories, at least one lost gift card, comparisons between my stuffing and his mother's stuffing, yet another horrible fruitcake from that cousin in Maine, eggnog and indigestion. For goodness sake, my mother and my aunt didn't speak for 15 years, all because they disagreed about what time dinner should be served. Oh, and there was that tiny hiccup when my aunt told my mom that my sister was a spoiled brat. I think this all happened at Thanksgiving.

We tried to avoid the whole holiday-and-relative thing one year. Just immediate family. Coziness. A cabin in the woods. No cell phone service. The dog. A fireplace. Board games. Togetherness. Bonding with those closest to you. It should have been idyllic. 

That weekend was one of the most boring 48 hours I have ever endured. And you know what they say about dogs and unconditional love? That weekend proved that even dogs have family issues.