“Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I’m taking with me when I go.” Erma Bombeck
How do you actually plan for a fiasco? I asked myself after putting a bicycle lock on the can of whipping cream in the refrigerator. The adults misbehave at Thanksgiving worse than the kids. Uncles Harry and Dick have never quite grown up, thanks to the enablers, who keep inviting them over for dinner. I pondered their next move.
Last year, Thanksgiving dinner got off to a good start. Just before dinner, my son-in-law hit his head on an heirloom sconce in the dining room; it crashed, sending about a thousand tiny glass slivers all over the floor. This was even before beer and wine were served.
Plates and glasses were snatched off the set table and rewashed as a just-in-case maneuver. Luckily, the buffet was safely in the next room. Condiments were moved closer to the Infant of Prague statue and prayed over, while salt was thrown over about a dozen shoulders.
At prayer time, our 6-year-old pagan, Missy, was sucking her thumb and screaming expletives that she had learned from her older brother during an Xbox game. We used duct tape and offered a prayer to Billy Mays.
We had ham and turkey, and a wide variety of side dishes. Since our family is diverse, the sides ranged from carrot raisin casserole to arroz rojo to pot stickers. Everybody avoided cousin Kim’s Kung Pao gizzards.
After beer was served, Uncles Harry and Dick got into a heated argument over the White House Christmas tree. Harry swore that it would be a Kwanzaa tree with seven branches, while Dick said that was unconstitutional, unless they also added a Menorah and Nativity scene. They also fought over whether or not Canadians ate Bald Eagle for Thanksgiving and what they used for stuffing. Every year, they pick something ridiculous to fight about.
By dessert time, Harry had already spritzed whipping cream on Dick’s nose. Hoping the family dog, Spuds, would attack him. Spuds maintained his cool, drooled over the cheerleaders on the TV, then looked at Dick’s nostrils and groaned. In his youth, Dick used to look like Jimmy Durante; now that he is older, and certain body parts are succumbing to gravity, he closely resembles a Proboscis monkey.
I already had Harry’s sleeping bag out in the barn with the kerosene heater. I was leaving nothing to chance.
The men went into the family room to watch football, teenagers were champing at the bit to go to the mall on Black Friday, little ones sat playing Penguins and Facebook games on several notebook PCs, Frack was on his 25th rendition of “I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas” on the Nintendo guitar, and the rest of us sat around the dining room table gossiping. The best story came from Aunt Helen, who insisted that the Fogels, who live up the street, hit the lottery for big bucks and are not telling anyone. She said that their 1988 battered Chevy Suburban, weekly delivery of 15 boxes of velveeta cheese, and family outhouse are just decoys.
My eyes were as glazed over as our left-over ham by 11:00 pm, so I excused myself and went upstairs; leaving my husband to entertain our overnight guests. About five minutes later, he snuck upstairs and accused me of abandoning ship.
“Football doesn’t turn me on,” I said. “Besides, look at the bright side, your mundane life would suck without overnight house guests trying to come up with a great theme song for the NY Giants.”