Regrets (Part One)

I confess to a certain envy of my mother-in-law's mild tyranny. She was utterly convinced that we would hop to it when bidden, completely lacking in doubt about our unflagging obedience when summoned! Naturally, as adults , we found this to be unfair and selfish, over-entitled, as it were. Also naturally, we did not always 'hop to it'. This was met with either wrath or martyrdom. Both good weapons, designed to make you feel guilty or more guilty. Take your pick.
Not a Christmas Eve went by that did not see us all assembled, in our finery, AT HER HOUSE. Nor did we often refuse coffee and cake for birthdays, feasts at Thanksgiving and Easter, champagne lunches on Sunday. If our beloved mother/mother-in-law so ordained, it was almost always so.
I'm sure I wasn't the only one to deeply resent this infringement on my adulthood. I resented so bitterly that I swore never to inflict these behaviors on my own children. Now check out the title.
How could I have better managed things, so that there would be a bit more of 'snapping to attention' but without the resentment? Is such a thing possible? Will our own children ever regret not seeing more of us? Will they, in a weird logic-defying twist, blame us for not insisting?
In one of my Russian short stories, the family is gathered after church, in the daughter's garden, and the visitor asks, "Is it a party?" One of uncles turns to him and replies, "No, it's Sunday."
How lovely, how unrealistic. Our family lives so far apart, is busy, has no servants, cannot just jump on a plane at a mother's whim but believe me, there are moments when I wish......

circa 1949

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