One of the first Christmases my sister-in-law attended, she scoffed at us.
"Christmas is so much different at my house."
"How?" My mother asked.
She probably had a point. My mother's grandparents were farmers during the Great Depression, and they would save every penny and buy more land. There was some story about how a Pizza Inn was built in town, and her grandmother never got to go because they were always saving for land. As a result, gifts given from my mother are always modest and practical in nature. My brother and I would take turns opening our towels and smile and say thank you. You don't really jump up and down like you would if you got the newest gaming system.
So maybe it's because my great-grandmother never got to go to Pizza Inn. Maybe it goes deeper with our German roots. Maybe it's as simple as the terrible divorce my mother went through when we were kids, but we are not a joyous family. I used to write about that a lot.
I remember when we signed the wedding venue. All I wanted was to have the wedding in one of those antebellum homes. Inject a little bit of me into what would be a Jewish ceremony. And we found the perfect house. It was painted white and had 2-story columns on the front porch, and the flooring was so old that it creaked when you walked in the house. The curtains were green velvet in the front parlor, just like Scarlet O'Hara's Tara. And the bar had been refinished in glorious mahogany wood. It was magnificent. It was perfect. And that's where I had my wedding.
My dad and mom and I sat around a 10-person table. My parents were writing checks for the deposit. "Smile!" my dad ordered.
I did. I think he wanted the reaction when you get a new gaming system on Christmas day. He was writing a large check; he wanted me to jump up and down and kiss his neck with appreciation. I must have given him the towel smile.
"That's Sarah," my father said to no one in particular. "Sarah isn't a happy person."
I was happy! I was also nervous!
My mother freely admits that we are a reserved people. She also thinks I had my thyroid disease for much longer than anyone had realized and that it kind of shaped my personality. Always moving at a tone softer than everyone else. There are a thousand more explanations I could come up with if I sat here long enough.
So when I peed on the stick and the pregnancy test turned positive, I shrugged.
That's Sarah, my father's words had echoed. She's not a happy person.
I smiled the towel smile.