With the Pilgrims held up as our example, we learned early to “be grateful.”
As they dragged us to various in-laws’ in assorted neighborhoods for turkey and pumpkin pie and secondhand smoke, our parents reminded us that at the first Thanksgiving in 1621 (give or take), the settlers of the New World had it much tougher than we do. They had to eat outside. They didn’t have potatoes over here yet. The yeast rolls didn’t rise. William Bradford forgot to pick up a Marie Callender’s Apple Crumb Cobbler at the store, and the cable went out halfway through the Detroit Lions-Chicago Cardinals football game.
“And they didn’t even complain,” our parents said.
“Bet they got drunk then,” I said.
“No, they most certainly did not!”
The Pilgrims really WERE tough; I would have complained if there’d been no potatoes. Loud and clear. They could have heard me back over in England.
But to hear our parents testify, no one 40 years ago ever complained about anything, especially on Thanksgiving. When you are spoiled like I am, that is setting the bar sort of high. But hey, I’m old school too and really not much of a complainer – as long as everything goes right. That’s just me.
This week, complaining is a given. This week is about the pre-Thanksgiving misgivings about “where we’re going for Thanksgiving.” Do you know where you’re going yet? Or what you’re bringing? Or the order in which you’re going to whomever’s house when? Are we all on the same page?
It can be dicey.
“Are we going to grandmama’s?”
“Not this year. But we’re not sure. We might.”
“When will we know?”
“I don’t know. Who are you, Dan Rather? We’ll know when we hear from everybody and decide.”
“Then good! Since Thanksgiving is on Thursday, as it usually is, that means we don’t have to know yet.”
“We’re cutting it close.”
“I’ll show you what cutting it close is, mister!”
“I was just asking…”
“Well just quit just asking, mister man. Your grandmother might meet us at Big Aunty’s. We might go there.”
“Not to Big Aunty’s! Big Aunty can’t cook, momma. Big Aunty won’t have nothing even done until supper. We’ll starve.”
“She most certainly will have and you most certainly will not starve. I’ll make you a pimento cheese to hold you over. We might just all bring different things.”
“What do you mean, ‘we all?’ Who all is coming?”
“Aunt Jean will bring the macaroni and cheese and we’ll bring the bean casserole and…”
“Momma that means Uncle Lester is coming. He’s a professional smoker. We’ll all smell like something burnt. They’ll be ashes in the macaroni.”
“No there will not!”
“There was last year.”
“You’ll think last year if you don’t shut up! Now I mean it!”
“Can we just stay home and make hamburgers?”
“NO! We can be thankful and not complain about gummy rice and ashes in the food and Jello with nuts in it and getting your picture taken. And if I hear one word, ONE MORE WORD….”
Precious memories. And Happy Thanksgiving; I hope you get where you’re going.
(Originally ran Nov. 20, 2009)
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