I have two Thanksgivings to go to this year, and ever since I became a bona fide adult (around the time I had Penny), people expect me to bring things.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  In that period before I had kids but was a grown, married woman, I chipped in.  I’m not rude.  Soda and ice?  Fine, and I’ll even get some cups if you need them.  Rolls?  I’m all over it, but next time, I’d really prefer not to have to heat anything up.  Now where’s the whipped cream…I mean, pumpkin pie?

Those were the days.

Something very sneaky happens as you get older.  It feels like, one minute, you’re drawing on your grandma’s walls and putting gum under her table with your cousins, and the next, you’re responsible for contributing to making this holiday happen.  And if you put gum under the table, you’re just a gross jerk.  And your little cousins are somebody’s parents.

So for the past few years or so I’ve been expected to bring, like, a legitimate side dish.  The problem is that I don’t have a go-to side dish.  My mom’s signature side dish was her salad.  Every Easter and every Thanksgiving, that was her contribution.  But to be honest, I would rarely put my signature on anything I cook.

This happened, over ten years ago, the first time I tried to cook Josh a meal.  Lesson one:  Don't cook the book.
This happened, over ten years ago, the first time I tried to cook Josh a meal. Lesson one: Don’t cook the book.

For the last few days, I have been mulling over and over what I should bring to these two Thanksgivings.

“I could bring baked macaroni and cheese or corn casserole,”  I would say to myself.  “I’m sure someone is already bringing the green bean casserole.  Ugh…I don’t feel like cooking anything.  I just started making dinner for my own family again, and yesterday we had Arby’s.  Maybe a fruit or veggie plate then.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I wouldn’t go near a fruit or veggie tray on Thanksgiving!  That might even be un-American.  Okay, maybe a broccoli raisin salad.  That’s FULL of mayonnaise so it meets the caloric requirements.  And you know what, Schnucks makes a good broccoli raisin salad.  Maybe I could find a copycat recipe…  Ooooor I could just buy it from Schnucks.  I’m pretty sure no one will say anything.  It’s been a hard year, and I just went back to work.  They know how tired I still am.  Besides, I HAD CANCER!  Schnucks it is.”

You guys, that’s the cancer card.  I hope you don’t have one too, but them’s the perks.

And since I decided to whip it out for Thanksgiving, it got me thinking about some of the times I played my cancer card this year.

  • We all four stopped at this four way stop at the same time?  Well, I’m going first.  I have cancer.
  • I have no makeup on, I haven’t brushed my teeth, and I’m still in my pajama pants.  I’m going to Target anyway.  I have cancer.
  • I’m at an 80th birthday party and no one wants to be the first to eat.  I will.  I’m hungry, and I have cancer.
  • We don’t have the money for me to get a pedicure, but I do anyway.  That’s okay.  I have cancer.
  • I keep not texting my friends back.  They’ll understand.  I have cancer.
  • Josh wants to watch a music documentary, but I have cancer so we watch The Mindy Project.
  • I just ate half my daughter’s Halloween candy.  You can’t judge me.  I have cancer.
  • My library books are late, and now I have a fine.  Can’t you just waive that?  Haven’t you heard? I have cancer.
  • You want me to donate to AIDS research?  No.  I have cancer.  Actually, can you donate to me?
  • There’s “stork parking” at the mall, and I make Josh park there.  I have been both pregnant and chemo’d.  Cancer is worse.  Let them ask me why we parked here.
  • You have to fire half your employees?  I’ll do it.  No one can get mad at me right now.  I have cancer.
  • I have to wait in this checkout line?  Are you kidding me?  I have cancer.

In the beginning, I was super serious.  I mean, I didn’t ever say it to anyone (Except for Josh.  “No, I cannot help bathe the girls tonight.  I HAVE CANCER!”), but it was always reverberating in my head.  I have cancer.  It was unbelievable, and I was indignant.  I almost felt above the law.

These days, the shock has worn off, I guess.  I still can’t believe that this happened to me, but I have digested it.  I have gone through the treatment and come out the other side.  I am feeling better every day.  And I am afraid (umm…ecstatic, really!) that my cancer card carrying days are coming to an end.  In the meantime, please don’t tell my family this until after the holidays because I really, really don’t like to cook.

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