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December 2, 2013 - Diane Laney Fitzpatrick
Happy belated Thanksgiving, to all of you who celebrate. Even though Thanksgiving is one of those phenomena that no one wants to hear/read/talk about the second that the last fistful of stuffing is placed into the mouth of the person doing the dishes at the end of that tryptophantasmic gorgy, I'm going to set myself apart from all the other bloggers and talk about my Thanksgiving after the fact.
I'm sure by the time you finish reading about my Thanksgiving, you'll be three-quarters of the way done with your Christmas shopping, and the marshmallow peeps will be lined up in the back room at CVS just waiting to be put on the store shelves, but I work on a slower speed. I'm still on Thanksgiving.
My husband and I had dinner with my sister and her husband. It was just the four of us and we are all empty nesters, over 50, and we get along famously. We had a terrific time talking loudly, drinking wine, laughing, and eating food that members of our family have been cooking and eating at Thanksgiving for as long as anyone can remember.
We didn't have a single argument, nor did anyone do anything strange or even slightly dysfunctional. I'm not going to count when my husband mixed together the sweet and the savory on his plate. Nor when he gave names and occupations to the tiny turkey table decorations and acted out The Sound of Music.
The whole day went about as smoothly as a Hallmark Thanksgiving special. It made me wonder where Thanksgiving got this reputation for being an excuse to call your relatives weirdos. Sure, everyone has an uncle who unbuttons his pants at the table and whose body emits sounds that have no readily apparent source. And everyone has an aunt who talks about the side effects of her IBS in real time, as they're happening. And everyone has a cousin who doesn't really speak at all except the occasional F word and a complicated series of finger flicks, ever since his trip to Belgium as a foreign exchange student that no one will talk about. OK, that last one might just be me, but the point is, everyone is related to weirdos. Saying that you are dreading your Thanksgiving get-together because of your dysfunctional family is like saying you're addicted to coffee or you're a chocoholic or you have your eye on a pair of Jimmy Choos or mommy wants vodka. No kidding. Who doesn't and who isn't?
Looking back over my past Thanksgivings, we never had a lot of family drama. But maybe it's just relative (no pun intended). No one ever got too drunk, but maybe less drunk than some families and more drunk than others. We got in some arguments, but probably fewer than some families and more heated than others. Legend has it that my mom threw a full carton of milk at my dad across the table once, but that may not have been Thanksgiving; it was probably just a regular Tuesday or something. At Thanksgiving, no one ever got into an argument so heated that things were thrown or people started leaving in door-slamming drama before pie. But that might have been because we were in a brown-sugar-and-deviled-egg coma starting with the appetizers before noon.
Which brings me to my next point: We have some unique food traditions, but nothing is gross or too ethnic or even a little bit not delicious. My family and my husband's family have the best damn food in the land, so when it comes to Thanksgiving, we can't even make fun of anyone's cooking skills or tell stories about sneaking food under the table to the dog. I haven't spit food into a napkin since I was 7 and I found myself at a family friend's farm. The food I tried to spit into my napkin was goat's milk. It didn't work out very well, so I never did it again. Now I just smell stuff before I put it in my mouth and I can't remember the last time I rejected a food at Thanksgiving.
Family members can be as strange as they want, but as long as the food is delicious, you'd be crazy to cut short a Thanksgiving. It's simply worth it, whatever it is. Remember that when when you notice you, yourself, becoming the weird uncle or the gassy aunt or the black sheep cousin. Bring something with lots of mayonnaise or brown sugar and you're good for another year.
(Diane Laney Fitzpatrick is the author of Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves. Her Just Humor Me column runs here and on Blogspot. Learn more at www.DianeLaneyFitzpatrick.com.)
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