Thursday, November 24, 2011

Home is Where Your Story Begins

Our Thanksgiving began in earnest after the SUV carrying the grandkids from hell was out of sight. Seeing those diminishing tail lights was a beautiful thing.

Babe turned to me. “I know we survived, but is the house still standing? I can’t look.” Glancing over his shoulder, I prepared myself for the wreckage of Rearickville.

Our cat Igor was sprawled on his back with his legs sticking straight up. He had swished his tail so many times I think he broke it. He spent the day hissing, snarling and running from the Jack Russell grandpuppy who pounced and chased him as though Igor was smeared with Alpo. If he could have, he’d have begged for Prozac, to which I’d have said, “There’s none left.” (Sucking on Prozac all day instead of hard candy can actually jumpstart a Zen experience. I know this for a fact.)

I didn’t decorate for the holiday. Instead I asked the kids to gather leaves from the yard. They thought up the live frogs on their own. My oldest grandson crafted a groundhog from a brown paper bag and called it a turkey. Not wanting to stunt a possible creative spurt, I nodded outwardly and winced inwardly.

Our family tolerates the vegetarian who eats nothing that previously wore furs or feathers, and another who eats only Cocoa Puffs. My daughter-in-law is on a hunger strike until she gets the green light to hire a live-in cook. My son, an enthusiastic jug wine drinker, will eat anything dead or alive after only a sip of the grape.

I must have been crazy to think I could restore the ambiance of a traditional sit-down dinner complete with a Butterball turkey, giblet gravy, dressing made from scratch, yams, and football blasting away in the den. Duh.

At four p.m., I announced that dinner would be fashionably late, so Lucifer’s children entertained everyone by repeating every expletive I had uttered with regard to Pilgrims and phone calls to the Butterball hotline after I discovered my turkey was still hard as last year’s Halloween corn candy.

While they gleefully shared videos of my unladylike behavior taken via their cell phones, I tried to drown them out with a tape of my son’s bass drum recital at age eight. I was really hoping to muffle sounds of my frozen turkey bouncing around in the clothes dryer.

When we were about to sit down for dinner I suggested, in the spirit of harmony that the children might sit at a separate table. In a separate room. Next door. I was voted down.

Appreciative onlookers applauding a perfectly carved, golden brown turkey is a beautiful thing to behold, but it means bupkis to Babe. He doesn’t carve; he chops. With that in mind, I thought a discreet turkey chopping ceremony in the kitchen would be wise. No way did I want anyone to see him hack up that turkey as if he were in a scene from the movie, “Saw III.”

But when everyone at the table started looking like Bosnian refugees, my son told his small, unsuspecting children to get in there and check on their grandfather.

“Stop,” I yelled. “Babe is battling an unarmed turkey with a Ginsu knife. Trust me. This is not something for young eyes to watch.”

My youngest grandson chomped his fourth bowl of Cocoa Puffs making mmmm sounds while the rest of us began to rethink cold cereal as a viable alternative to real food.

It’s a mystery to me why anyone prefers chickpeas to drumsticks, but in deference to the vegan, I sculpted a small turkey from tofu using colored toothpicks for feathers. After brushing it with egg whites, I baked it to a golden glow.

Instead of the appreciation I expected, however, laughter and name-calling prevailed. Positive reinforcement is an easily withheld commodity at my house.

Instead of the four different desserts that I might have made had the turkey thawed like it should have, I popped a Mrs. Paul’s pumpkin pie in the oven and put Cool Whip and M & M’s on top, the latter addition being another creative surge from the oldest grandson.

There could have been coffee. I can’t say for sure because I seized what was left of the wine, shut myself up in a closet and drank that jug dry as Tom Turkey’s carcass.

Babe and I have much to be thankful for, but those disappearing tail lights have taken thankfulness to a whole new level.