We almost got into a political snit at breakfast on Thanksgiving Day, and it was mostly my fault. But, not to be too hard on myself, maybe we weren't all that different from other red-blooded Americans sitting around tables, sipping coffee and reading the newspaper or watching TV with family members gathered for the holiday.
I was visiting my son, his wife and two little girls in Scottsdale. My daughter-in-law's mother was there, too, having driven over from Palm Springs, Calif. My son and I were reading the front-page stories about you-know-what.
And being as partisan as everybody else these days, I began to sputter and fume about "those Republicans." Now, my son and his wife are generally of the same mind politically as I am. However, my Co-Grandmother (our affectionate mutual term for each other) is not, which we momentarily forgot.
My son and I were discussing the comparative strengths in office of the president and vice president. I said, "Clinton is a man of many talents."
Co-Grandmother snickered derisively. I caught her drift and snapped angrily, "That's not what I mean!"
She leaned back and threw up her hands in mock defense, protesting, "I didn't say a thing!"
My button had been pushed. I glowered at her and said menacingly, "I knew what you were thinking by the way you laughed."
Trying to ignore that tense exchange still hanging in the air, the rest of us continued our analysis of the political parties, the battling presidential candidates, and the craziness of the Florida election. Co-Grandmother silently sipped her coffee, excessively attentive to her bowl of oatmeal. I was vaguely discomfited by her discomfort, which seemed to just drive my tongue to wag even faster.
After breakfast, my daughter-in-law and I were alone at the kitchen sink, and guilt overcame me. I seized the moment. "Do you think I was well, that is, do you think I offended your mother," I asked timorously.
"Probably," she said.
"I shouldn't have cut her off like that."
"No, she has a right to express her opinions, too, even if the rest of us don't agree."
I felt awful, and knew I had to set it right. I got my chance later when Co-Grandmother and I were preparing to co-stuff the turkey. I swallowed and took a deep breath.
"Barb," I began. "I realize I was a little overbearing at breakfast. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to put you down."
"I hate it when I do that."
I took another deep breath. "Well, would you like to chop the onions or the celery?"
"Oh, the onions, I guess," she said, smiling, as she picked up the cutting board. What a sport.
You should understand that we co-grandmothers are friends. We have lots in common. Obviously, we share our two granddaughters. We both believe in Dr. Atkins' diet and health food stores. We're both single women who relish our independence, worry about Social Security, Medicare, and whether our meager investments will play out before we do. We've each raised a son and a daughter. We've made mistakes, enjoyed good times and survived the bad.
Moreover, I think we share a deep commitment to family in spite of the fact that our respective and blended families are scattered by distance, splintered by divorce and complicated by multiple marriages. There've been hurt feelings and harsh words between one and another from time to time. But somehow it always gets fixed. Apologies and forgiveness and hugs bring everyone back to center. We may be funky, but we're not dysfunctional.
And we Co-Grandmothers mean to keep it that way, no matter who the president is.
Contact Vivian Taylor at 474-1386 or online at mailto:viv@ cybertrails.com.