holidays, life

Ode to Family Dysfunction

In all honesty, due to the circumstances in our world today, I haven’t felt much like blogging.

So, today I thought I’d share a clip from my finished novel that I’m shopping around. Okay, so it’s still trite in comparison to the tension in the world, but what I’d give for the days of just simple, good old family dysfunction.

Since Thanksgiving is this week, the below excerpt from my novel Whit’s End shows the Whitaker family dysfunction regarding that holiday. Perhaps some people can relate.

4julysunset (1024x525) wmAva turned her attention toward the window to check out the weather. The emerging sunlight revealed a clear, coral sky. “Looks like a beautiful morning. Why don’t we sit out on the patio? I want to talk to you about something.”

“Well, alright, for a little bit.” Her sister-in-law, Jocelyn, seemed stiff and caught off guard by the suggestion. Once at the patio table, she relaxed her demeanor. “Oh, it’s gorgeous outside. The robins are singing and everything is still green. I’m glad you suggested it. You have the best ideas.”

Ava didn’t care about singing birds, green grass, or about giving heed to the condescending compliment. She drew in a deep breath of dewy morning air to strengthen her resolve. “Alex and I drove here [120 miles] for Christmas Eve, Easter and all the summer holidays … Memorial Day, 4th of July … now Labor Day, too—”

“Well, I’m sorry we’re such trouble.” Jocelyn frowned and turned her head away.

Clawing the coffee cup in her hand, Ava remained focused. “That’s not what I meant. I thought maybe we can come to some sort of compromise about the upcoming holidays.”

“Like what?” Jocelyn tilted her head and raised a brow.

“Taking turns traveling would be a nice. I’d love you to come to our house for Thanksgiving this year.”

Jocelyn sighed. “What about Gramps and Grammy?”

“They’re invited, of course. My grandmothers will be there too.” Ava hoped her cheerful attitude made it sound fun.

“That’s a lot of people to have for your first Thanksgiving.” Jocelyn flashed a squinting, wary eye.

Ava anticipated her husband’s sister would try to come up with reasons to turn down the invitation, and she strengthened her resolve with a firm tone. “I was raised with a lot of people in our home for special occasions. We’ll have a great time.”

After a pause, Jocelyn said, “It would be nice to see your family again. Yes, we can be there.”

Those few months flew by after the Labor Day discussion, and Ava hated to admit Jocelyn was right. On Thanksgiving-eve, Ava almost buckled under the pressure of hosting sixteen people for the first time. With nerves frayed and mind jumbled, she wrote out a to-do list to focus her thoughts, when the phone rang. “Can you answer it, hon? I’m too busy to talk right now.”

Alex answered, then peeked around the corner. “Joss wants to talk to you.”

Ava whispered, “Can’t you talk to her?”

“She says it’s about the meal.”

Snarling, she held out her palm for the phone. “Hey, Jocelyn. What’s up?”

“Hi. How’re you doing for tomorrow? Besides the salad and turkey, is there anything else you need?”

“Turkey?” Ava tilted her head sideways.

Turkey 2“Yes. David and I are cooking it in the smoker tonight. We’ll warm it in your oven when we get there.”

“Jocelyn, why would you do that? I have a turkey.” Ava paced across the ceramic tile floor in their spotless, new kitchen.

“We always cook our Thanksgiving turkey in Dad’s smoker. I thought you knew.”

Ava pressed her fingers to her left temple feeling a headache coming on. “I thought you knew that the host supplies the turkey. I’m not going to discard my twenty-pounder because you want to bring your own.”

“Well, what am I supposed to do with mine?”

Ava resisted the first response that came to her mind and then felt cruel for thinking it. “I’m sorry. I don’t know how we miscommunicated and ended up with two turkeys. But, I’m serving this one I have tomorrow.”


Have you ever had difficulty trying to arrange splitting your time between family on holidays? Have you ever had anyone  bring the main course without telling you?


16 thoughts on “Ode to Family Dysfunction”

  1. I love the name you chose for your book! And re-reading that passage is a good reminder to me that we’re lucky to have family dysfunction. It means we have family in our lives! Through the good times and the bad, at least it’s nice to know we’re connected to others and aren’t alone.

    p.s. This comment should link you to my new blog. Thanks for wanting to keep reading my stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Terri, thanks so much for coming over and letting me know what you think of that title. I’ve had the novel named four different things, and none of them really felt right. This one just popped up for me a couple of weeks ago. I saw a sign on facebook with the those words and it hit me. I wasn’t sure how others would take to it. It helps to know you like it. Hope you’re having a nice weekend. Blessings to you.


  2. Great story Lori, I would have gladly accepted the turkey, then cook it next time I’m less busy. Family and holidays! Hope to read your book when it’s out!

    Do enjoy the rest of your weekend my friend!
    Blessings. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Seyi. Ahh, yes, accepting the turkey is a good idea if this was Jocelyn’s only “take charge” incident. Everything centers around the antagonist, Jocelyn, and what she wants. Ava finds herself the black sheep being the only one who stands up to her. 😉 Thanks for reading it, Seyi. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

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  3. Nice excerpt. Good job! Having a dad with 7 brothers and sisters who all have 2-5 kids, who are all married with 2-5 kids, who even some of those are married with kids, we have a very large family. With all those people there is bound to be drama from time to time. It’s just a given. LOL.

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  4. I love the excerpt. So much detail I felt like I was there… I could feel myself tensing in sympathy for Ava. I like the subtle humor too.
    Similar to Carrie, we don’t have obligatory family get togethers. When we do catch up to celebrate an occasion, everyone confers, brings something and we end up with too much food. The G.O. refers to it as ‘the usual family food fest’
    I love that Carrie is going to visit her Mom’s cat.. four-legged family 🙂

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    1. Hi EllaDee. Glad to hear that your occasional family gatherings work well. Too much food is a stable with my Italian family. Thank you for the kind words about my excerpt. Blessings to you.


  5. Thanks for the excerpt. I enjoyed reading it. Luckily, we’ve had little in the way of family drama during our holiday get-togethers on either side of the family. We don’t get together much–we’re all so spread out–so I guess we just head straight to the laughter and fun. That’s not to say personalities don’t collide–they can and do–but so far it hasn’t ruined any festivities. Then again, we always stay at a hotel when we visit family, so maybe that’s the trick. 😉

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Lori!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Carrie. There are plenty more of these family “misunderstandings” in the rest of the novel, which causes Ava to make some problematic decisions.

      That’s great that you haven’t had issues with family holidays. For us, with family spread out so far away, we’ve always had to be the ones to travel. That gets taxing every year, so we stopped doing it after a while. I’m excited that I get to spend the holidays with nearby family this year.

      Thanks for the good wishes. Blessings to you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We’re staying home for Thanksgiving but traveling for Christmas to see my mother, step-dad, sister and nephews. Plus, my boys want to see my mom’s cat. Oh, okay, I do to. (She’s named Diva, and believe me, she lives up to her name.)

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