Given that I’ve spent probably the balance of Thanksgivings in my life nowhere near my family, I don’t really get into Thanksgiving all THAT much. But I do like the food, and Kevin’s gotten me somewhat back into the spirit since he’s been doing a Stray’s Thanksgiving for years, and lots of our friends tend to show up for that.
This year, owing to general fatigue, we are actually doing an honest to god traditional Thanksgiving with his family, and Kevin is cooking this thing he dreamed up that involves a pork loin marinated in hard cider with apples, crystallized ginger, and tart cherries. It will either be amazing or horrifying, I’m not sure which.
My mother called, and we spent a few minutes reminiscing about the family, which is always entertaining, because generally Kevin is staring at me in baffled horror after about five minutes, just from hearing one side of the conversation.
“Uh-huh…uh-huh…Aunt Shirley with the plate in her head or Shirley who started wearing burkas–right, right. What did happen to Shirley with the plate in her head? Oh. Well, she probably stood in the sun too long and went funny…uh huh, uh-huh…Oh! I was wondering, who was it who stabbed her husband with the fork? They had the obnoxious shelties? Oh, was it Ev and Al? You would have stabbed Al, too? Well, that’s all right then. Uh-huh, uh-huh…Lecherous Uncle Charlie? I never heard of him….uh-huh…which one from Snow White? The hag or the witch-queen–oh dear. Given the choice, you’d really rather look like the witch-queen…uh-huh. She owned an island, you say? Donated it to a monastic order? Well, that’s nice….uh-huh, uh-huh…wait, how many times did Grandma marry your father? Three? Oh, gotcha. That’s a shame. Well, she probably wore him out. Now which one was the Irish babysitter who used to talk to “her sister” in the mirror? Mrs. Ferguson, right. Convinced Grandma that the Little People were going to get her, huh? Hmm. I just remember her saying “Stick your head in de toilet, beat your head against de wall!” Wait, that was a different crazy Irish babysitter? Good god, what kind of neighborhood did they LIVE in? Oh, well, Wyoming. Oh, right, the mannish trick rider lived down the street. From the circus. No, the rodeo. Well, it was Wyoming, you could probably make a good living in the rodeo….oh, that’s a shame. Well, yes, that does tend to lead to divorce….uh-huh…Good for the priest, then! And what happened to…really? Good lord. How DO you punish a goldfish? Uh-huh. Good lord, that’s awful. So okay, she’s married to the serial goldfish mutilator, and….?”*
By this point, Kevin is staring at me and his head has twisted so far around that he looks like one of those hungover owls, and I am forced to cover the reciever and say “It’s okay! We’re not actually related to the one who married the serial goldfish mutilator! Which is good, because I think her son became a serial killer, but since nobody can remember his last name, we can’t actually look him up.”
I am not sure if this reassured Kevin at all.
I am occasionally glad that so much of my family, while illustrious–or at least eccentric–is also dead, because as fascinating a bunch as they must have been, I think Thanksgiving might not be the peaceful drama-free zone that I currently enjoy if they were still roaming around stabbing people with forks and committing each other to mental hospitals and so forth. (This is not to say that I WISHED them dead, but as they have mostly shuffled off this mortal coil on their own, I’m cool with that.) I am quite fond of the very small living family I possess–the broader extended bunch are perhaps best as legendary figures unlikely to actually show up at dinner.
So happy thanksgiving to all, and may your family who actually shows up prove fascinating, but only in a good way.
*The scary thing is that I did not make up a single word of that, although I did cut a lot of “uh-huh”s and left off a number of bits for length. Also, my grandmother did in fact marry my grandfather almost three times, but family legend has that he told her “You better hurry it up!” and then expired shortly before the third wedding could actually go through.