There’s a turkey made of butter on the “kids table” and as soon as I see it, I dare my brother to eat it.

“I’ll give you $20 to eat that entire bird right now.”

He declined and I called him a wimp.

I’m fifty years old but put me back in my mom’s house with all my siblings and we all revert to teenagers and assume our traditional roles. I’m the rebel bad kid always looking for (or starting) trouble, but never getting caught. It’s a gift.

So is this loud house full of people.

No matter where I stand, I’m in the way … of Pam putting together her epic charcuterie board, Syd making punch, Bethany browning the rolls, Dan cutting the turkey, mom stirring the mashed potatoes keeping warm in her ancient crock pot.

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It’s hot, and crowded, and loud. And, I love it. There are downsides to having a big family, sure. Back in the day, there was never enough money, time, space, or patience. But now, I’m eternally grateful to have a small village to rely on.


A health scare with my mom last week caused a mobilization of forces in less than 10 minutes. Mom called Shaun. Shaun called Joe and Pam, my two oldest siblings. Joe and Pam called me. I texted my little brother. Someone found Rich.

There was soon a group chat to share information. It wasn’t our first rodeo. Mobilizing forces and sharing duties is something we got plenty of experience with back when Dad was sick. And we learned our roles well.

Pam and Joe volunteered to stay at the ER with mom. The rest of us would wait for orders. There’s an unspoken universal truth in all large families — the oldest ones are eternally in charge.

It turned out to be nothing serious. A blood pressure issue that caused some scary moments for mom and us.

A coworker was surprised I was still at work after getting the call from my siblings.

“They’ve got it,” I said. “This is kinda how it works. We all take turns.”

If you learn nothing else in a big family, you learn to share — chores, food, cars, birthdays, clothes, living space, parents attention….and, if you’re lucky, responsibility.

Each of us have our strengths and weaknesses and our roles in the family are fairly defined, but this — and every — Thanksgiving I’m thankful that all my sibling live here and that everyone pulls their weight in one way or another when it comes to taking of mom (and, really, everyone in the family).

I know it’s not like that for everyone, but I wish that it were.

Be thankful for what you have. Your life is someone else’s fairy tale.


(P.S. Mom has her Thanksgiving on the Sunday before T-day, so we can all be there and don’t have to eat two big meals in one day!).


About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly with little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.