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I almost called this post "My Family is Growing" but then I thought everyone would think I was pregnant. I'm not pregnant. GOOD GOD NO. Today, I'm talking about cousins.

Not just cousins. Cousins-in-law. And step-cousins. And step-cousins-in-law. We've got them all and somewhere between cranberry chutney and my fourth glass of red wine, I realized Mazzy and Harlow have the big extended family I always dreamed of having when I was growing up.

For Thanksgiving, we went to Mike's cousins' house which I should probably start calling "my cousins" too. It's a slow process talking about a spouse's extended family as if they are your own, but every year they really do feel more and more like actual family. I also realize Mazzy makes no distinction between family members based on whether they are on mom or dad's side. 

If I did have to make an obvious distinction, it would be that Mike's side of the family is very gifted musically. So gifted, that as part of their Thanksgiving tradition, everyone is required to perform for their pre-dinner "family talent show".

This is hilarious because Mike is the one member with no musical talent whatsoever and I, who might be described as somewhat talented in some circles, am lumped together with the person I happened to procreate with. Together, we are the butt of many jokes until everyone agrees we can sit the talent portion of the evening out, for the benefit of everyone involved.

In reality, if Mike ever reminded me about the talent requirement ahead of time, I might take the time to actually prepare something. Once upon a time, I could sing a tune pretty impressively. I have big plans of blowing their minds one day by belting out "Memories" from Cats or something equally ridiculous.

This year, in lieu of an "act", we let Harlow loose and she danced and clapped and waved her little arms in the air until she put on such a show, we were no longer required to get up there ourselves.

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Mazzy took turns "playing" the piano, the ukele and the drums and I just grinned from ear to ear knowing this was something they would both be exposed to for the rest of their lives.

The following night, my mom and my stepdad threw their annual "Friday Thanksgiving", which is a Thanksgiving that ensures all four of their children (me, my sister and my two step brothers) will attend.

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One of my step brothers has two kids (Maia, 4 and Hunter, 6) but they live out-of-state and we only see them once a year. It's always nice to see how well Maia and Hunter get along with Mazzy, but this year, they took it to a whole other level. The three of them are now at the age where they not only remember one another, they remember how much they love playing together too. 

The whole ride to Grammy's house, Mazzy could not stop talking about how excited she was to see Maia and Hunter. Once there, the three of them joined at the hip and ran around the house like they play together every day of their lives. They had pillow fights, scavenged for hidden Chanukah presents and danced around in party hats they found in the basement.

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It was a beautiful thing. 

This was also the first year we had a kid's table. OH MY GOD, does this make things easier to control. It's like letting a state cede from the union and then they can do all the fucked up shit they please because the inhabitants no longer belong to your country of civilized eating and conversation holding. 

After dinner, we all adjourned to the family room where we had a Chanukah present exchange, which was the closest my mom's house has ever resembled Christmas. With multiple grandparents and aunts and uncles and step siblings, etc. there were enough presents to make it look like someone robbed Santa.

Personally, I find it all over the top and don't think my increasingly whiny three-year-old deserves to be showered with toys, but maybe this is just the beginning of me being a messed-up mom. I'm not sure. 

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Regardless, it was fun watching them plow through gifts with the appreciation level of a cat getting kisses.

You never know what is going to go over big and on this occasion, it was not the Tinkerbell and Friends miniatures ("I don't want it!" – Maia) or the Cars Duplo Lego Set ("There's no Lightening McQueen!" – Mazzy), it was the extra large fleece Hello Kitty and Spiderman blankets. Do you know what kind of tents you can build with those things?

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Seriously. How good looking are these kids???

My other favorite part of the night was when I asked Mazzy what she was thankful for. 

She said, "booms" (that's what she calls getting tossed on the bed by her dad), "drawing with a pen" (I let her draw with a ballpoint recently and now crayons are dead to her) and "hugs from Mommy" (sniff).

I couldn't believe iPads and Netflix didn't bump me out of the running.

I'm sure if Mazzy had been more thoughtful about it, they would have.

As for Harlow, obviously I couldn't ask the question. Or I could have, but she wouldn't be able to answer. If she could, I bet she'd say…

"Milk, music and Mazzy."

Maybe, she'd even throw "Mommy" into the mix.


I also want to mention our awesome view of the Thanksgiving Day Parade courtesy of ulive which is the online network that produces The Mommy Show. Mazzy and I braved the crowds to 46th Street and 6th Avenue for a corner office with plate glass windows, lots of bagels and views like this:

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Mazzy's role at the parade was to inform other children that the larger-than-life Buzz Lightyear was not actually "the REAL Buzz Lightyear" as if "the REAL Buzz Lightyear" is a living breathing astronaut currently looking for his next space gig.

This is Mazzy showing her appreciation. I think.

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Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! What did your kids say they were thankful for?