Turkey Day

turkey-grouchoFor some, Thanksgiving is a day of turkey, cheese spreads, and football. For others, it’s a reminder of a dark romanticized past. For even more, it’s a day to commemorate that dark past with dioramas, macaroni art, and hand-traced turkeys.

For this expatriate, it is a day to wax nostalgic because I am 100% jealous of you people over there across the pond.

In our house, there was ubiquitous football. It wasn’t even a discussable point. The excitable tenors of the announcers became the music of the living room, as well as the murmur of my dad and uncles who spent a great deal of the day in front of that TV, talking about things I halfway understood. The occasional vulgarity crescendo. The kids were used as couriers, sent off to bring back a piece of pie, a bowl of olives, or, if the kid’s acumen was especially trusted, a beer.

There was a kitchen filled with appetizers, snacks, and pre-dinner goodies. It took me until the age of seventeen to realize that appetizers were the devil’s spawn. In the first few years of cognisant eating, I thought to myself: well, look at this! This is sort of like stumbling into chow heaven! And then I’d wander through, eating cubes of pumpernickel with as much spinach dip as I could balance on them, the semicircle abdomen of a cheddar cheese snowman on crackers, and all the pretzels and olives a boy can dream about.

The problem arose, of course, when I sat at the dinner table and my body was torn in two. Brain: “Um, you’re gonna eat again? I don’t think so. You’re pretty full of cheese and spinach, at this point you’re not going to poop until New Years.” My stomach would of course respond by saying (through a chuckle): “Oh is that right? Just shut up and try to keep up with conversation while I load up.”

This was of course after I had successfully made the leap to the adult’s table. Because, like you, we always had two tables: the adult’s and the kid’s. And the entire objective of us at the kid’s table was to get to the adult’s table and the instant we were granted that wish, we longed to go back to the rollicking good fun that is the kid’s table. And this is because the adult’s table meant behaving and a lot more conversation that we couldn’t even begin to comprehend. The uncle who wanted to hold Ronald Reagan under the water until the bubbles stopped. My aunt and dad rehashing an argument they’d been having since they were seven and nine respectively.

Thanksgiving was when the holiday season got real for me. Though there were no gifts, there was a jolly atmosphere, and a feeling that the countdown to Christmas had begun. No doubt this was partly due to no gifts. In our family, it is still about eating, drinking, and being reunited with the only people in the world who are the same kind of crazy as we are.

As the day wore on, and the pie made its appearance and coffee (mostly) replaced beer and wine, the women would take a breath and get back to work, while the men would sit back in front of that television in postures that would devolve until their chins were balanced on palms and the snores began to ring through the house, ensuring that nobody else in it could attain sleep as well.

Well, almost nobody. Because on Thanksgiving, with a stomach filled with pumpernickel, wine, cheese, turkey, mashed potatoes, and two slices of pumpkin pie, I would drag my ass to the nearest bed and stick a sign on my chest that read: Don’t Wake til December 24.

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