I never meant to instigate a fight between my sister and her daughter. Why would I want to do that? Lord knows, when it comes to fighting, they don’t need any help from me.
Did you notice that I said “instigate?” That was the word my mother liked to use to justify her part in any fight with her mother or eight sisters or any other woman in her family, including my sister and me.
“I never opened my mouth,” she would say, stretching her lips across her teeth tighter than a lizard’s grin. “She instigated the whole thing.”
Women in my family have a thing for instigating. I’ll be the first to admit it. I’ve done my share. But in this case, I did not open my mouth. Speaking figuratively, of course.
All I did was call my sister in South Carolina and invite her to California for Thanksgiving.
How was I to know she’d say “YES!” and hop on a plane?
Could I ever have imagined she would abandon her children and grandchildren and our blind brother _ that she’d leave them alone to fend for themselves and deep fry a turkey without her?
I knew that she was hungry to see my children, just as I get hungry to see hers. And she was dying to meet my grandbabies, her great-nephews, who are 15 months and 2 months old.
Wait. Now that I think about it, maybe it was the babies that instigated the whole thing?
Women in my family have a thing for babies. When a new leaf buds on the family tree, we just have to get our hands on it.
But was it my fault for sending photos and bragging about how exceptional they are? Isn’t that what grandparents do? She has done that to me for 15 years, ever since her first grandbaby was born. Was I wrong to take my rightful turn?
For the record, the fight between my sister and her daughter was not really about her leaving at Thanksgiving. It was about something far more important: A jar of green beans.
Women in my family have a thing for green beans. They’re in our genes, and especially in our arteries, thanks to years of seasoning with fatback.
Before my sister left town, her daughter stopped by to wish her a safe trip and said not to worry, her family would still celebrate the holiday without her.
“Can I have a jar of your green beans for Thanksgiving dinner?”
She meant the green beans my sister cans and treasures like a set of solid gold dentures.
Far be it from me to take sides. Whether one was too slow to reply or the other was too fast out the door, either way, the parting was less than cordial.
Luckily, my niece forgot a cell phone. The next day, she went back to get it and found it where her mother had left it for her, along with a jar of green beans.
I learned that from an email my niece sent while I was at the airport waiting for my sister.
“Take care of my mama!” she wrote, “and y’all have a wonderful time!”
Once, years ago, my mother and her sister, both in their 60s, old enough to know better, got in a big fight over a Popsicle.
Aunt Hazel called to talk, as they did every day, and my mother said, “Hazel, I’m eating a Popsicle. Call me back later.”
So Aunt Hazel hung up on her and they didn’t speak for weeks.
I’m not sure if they ever apologized. I doubt it. But in time they got over it. They were sisters. It’s what sisters do.
Women in my family have a thing for getting over things like Popsicles and green beans and misguided instigations.
And someday, I’ll probably get over the fact that my sister did not bring me any of her green beans for Thanksgiving.


  1. Hi Sharon
    Like a lot of ladies all over this country I’ll bet you put in a long day today, making sure your family and friends were having a good time and plenty to eat. I know my wife and sister-in-law certainly did.
    Anyway here are a few minutes of relaxation Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.


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