Sunday, November 23, 2008

We Give Thanks

We Give Thanks

By Cappy Hall Rearick

“Home is where your story begins.”

Last year, our Thanksgiving began when the SUV carrying the grandkids from hell was out of sight. Seeing those diminishing taillights was a beautiful thing.

Babe turned to me. "I know we survived, but is the house still standing? I can’t look." Peeking behind him, I prepared myself for the wreckage of Rearickville.

Out cat Igor was sprawled on his back, his legs sticking straight up. He had swished his tail so many times he might have broken it. Igor spent the day hissing, snarling and running from the Jack Russell grandpuppy, who pounced and chased the poor cat non-stop. If Igor could have, he’d have begged for Prozac, to which I’d have said, “There’s none left.” Many people are unaware that sucking on Prozac all day instead of hard candy can jumpstart a Zen experience.

I didn’t decorate for the holiday. Instead I asked the kids to gather some leaves from the back yard. They thought up the live frogs on their own. My oldest grandson crafted a groundhog with his own hands from a brown paper bag. He said it was a turkey. I nodded. Anything less might have stunted his creative spirit.

In our family we tolerate the vegetarian who eats nothing that previously wore feathers, and another who eats nothing but Cocoa Puffs. The daughter-in-law is on a hunger strike until she is given the green light to hire a live-in cook. The son, an enthusiastic jug wine drinker, eats anything dead or alive after sipping the grape.

Silly me for trying to preserve the ambiance of a traditional sit-down dinner complete with football noise in the background. Butterball turkey, giblet gravy, dressing made from scratch and yams with marshmallows on top.

So much for tradition.

At four p.m., when I announced that dinner would be fashionably late, Lucifer's children began to entertain everyone by repeating every expletive they heard me utter regarding Thanksgiving, pilgrims and phone calls to the Butterball hotline made earlier that morning upon discovering my turkey was still hard as last year’s Halloween corn candy.

While they gleefully shared snatches of my unladylike behavior, I put on a tape of my son’s bass drum recital at age eight, hoping to muffle sounds of the frozen turkey bouncing around in the clothes dryer.

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

Having a crowd of appreciative onlookers applauding a perfectly carved, golden brown turkey means bupkis to Babe. He doesn’t carve; he chops. With that in mind, I suggested a private turkey chopping ceremony in the kitchen. No way did I want anyone to see him hack up that turkey as if he were in a scene from “Saw II.”

But when everyone at the table was beginning to look like starving refugees, my son told his small, unsuspecting children to get in there and check on their grandfather.

"Babe is seriously battling an unarmed turkey with a Ginsu knife." I said. “Trust me. No one should get anywhere near him at this point.”

My youngest grandson chomped his fourth bowl of Cocoa Puffs and while the rest of us began to consider whether cold cereal could be a viable alternative to real food, he made "mmmmmm" sounds with every mouthful.

I can’t understand why anyone would prefer chickpeas to a drumstick, but in deference to the vegan, I sculpted a small turkey from tofu using colored toothpicks as a tail. I brushed it with egg whites and then baked it to a golden crisp. When I brought it to the table, instead of the appreciation I expected, laughter and name-calling prevailed. Positive reinforcement is darn hard to come by these days.

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

There could have been coffee. I can’t say because I seized what was left of the wine, shut myself up in the closet and drank it straight from the jug.

We are thankful for many things, but watching those disappearing taillights last Thanksgiving gave a whole new dimension to the word thankful.

Happy Turkey Day y’all!