Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

I am learning that there are many unexpected benefits to rounding the years of each new decade. I have even learned to imagine that the fall and winter holidays may be fun.

My holiday season begins earlier than most, with the birthday party for a son in early November. It ends later, too, with the birthday party for another son on January 10th. In between are Thanksgiving, multiple holiday parties in December, my birthday on December 21st, then Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. I know that it is important to show up and do the right thing, but I generally find it harder to do now than I did in my 30s, when, with great gusto, I competed with Pearl Mesta’s ghost for the Hostess of the Year Award.

This year, I was given the most unexpected seasonal gift. My daughter-in-law and son took the Thanksgiving baton and began their part of the holiday race for the first time.

They both worked the day before Thanksgiving and had no one to clean the apartment or assist in the kitchen. It was amazing to me how cool they were, knowing that they had to bake an uncooked turkey and its Pilgrim side dishes, reconfigure their small apartment to allow seating for 12, and assemble eight new dining room chairs delivered that week—just to make it all interesting. My gift to the lucky couple was a beautiful stainless-steel pot in which they could cook enough potatoes for more than a dozen, and they were thrilled.

My other gift is that I arrived late. My failure to factor in enough time for travel affected by holiday traffic (New York City to Bronxville: 13 miles) caused a delay in dinner by one entire hour. It took two hours to travel those 13 miles. I should have gone by horse.

It was amazing how kind they were when I called every 30 minutes urging them to begin dinner, and how insistent they were that watching Saturday Night Live episodes of the Worst Thanksgiving Awards was totally engaging. “You’ll get through the worst of it soon and we will start when you arrive.”

The Worst Thanksgiving Awards was still running when we did stumble through the door of a home filled with the fragrance of baked turkey and stuffing, and with the calm faces of the hosts and forgiving looks of the other family members. Dinner was perfect. Other guests had contributed family favorites and desert. No one was rushed. No one was rude.  There were no contestants for the Worst Thanksgiving Awards. If this is the new holiday plan for our family, I  may grow to love Thanksgiving after all.

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