This is by far my favorite time of the year. December 2, 1:50 PM. There is no better time for me, folks. Except maybe for midnight right before a daylight savings time change. Forward or back? That’s exhilarating drama!
Seriously, this time between major family holidays is truly special. Most people do a lot of reflecting, thanking God for their families and bountiful harvests. Of course “harvest” was a term used most often back in the Plymouth Rock days, and it originally defined things like wheat, corn, and cotton candy. Nowadays, the word “harvest” refers to less tangible things, like unconditional love and Tivo. Some may say that the latter of these is indeed tangible, but if I can’t understand how it works, it may as well be invisible and make believe. But we should nonetheless give thanks for it. (The wonderful art of fermenting would be another example.)
Every year I have the luxury of spending time with my family. Man, is that fun and simultaneously tiring. But like Mrs. Garrett taught us in the land of ’80s television, you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life…(pause) the facts of life. If you are under the age of 30 and don’t understand that reference, one day I’ll teach you about those wacky girls, along with what happened in 1972 when a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit.
Holiday meals with my family are priceless. Now that all my nephews and nieces are no longer infants, I don’t have to sacrifice my adult seat and dine with them (please refer to my column “King of the Kiddy Table”, circa sometime before now). The last time I sat with the little munchkins, a brief food fight broke out. I spent half the afternoon picking marshmallow yams from my ear with the pointy end of a plastic cornucopia. As a result, I couldn’t hear TV commentators proclaim how much the Detroit Lions suck. I was forced to make that analysis myself! What’s the point of having a TV if it can’t tell you what to believe?
Those were good times. I wonder if the first Thanksgiving was just as glorious. I can’t help but think how vastly different and yet so remarkably similar our culture is compared to the Pilgrims. If you listen to the real history of what happened, you’ll be just as amazed as I was when I read it in a book that I dreamed about.
Of course, back then settlers didn’t call it “Thanksgiving”. Rather, they designated the occasion “Meat Grubbin’ and Witch Burnin'”. It’s true. And the Native Americans weren’t even invited. They just poked their heads over the property-line hedges that day and innocently asked, “Hey, watcha cookin’ over there, whitey? Sure smells good.” And then the Pilgrims were kind of forced to ask them to come over. Of course being good neighbors, they didn’t come empty-handed. They brought covered dishes, and the women pioneers praised them… “More maize! That’s…um…great! Kernel goodness…yummy! You know who would love you? Iowa, if they existed yet.”
While the better-halfs were in the kitchen cooking and gossiping about who’s nailing Pablo the local cabana boy, the men were on the back deck shooting wild turkey while shooting wild turkey. Obviously, 101 proof can loosen the tongue, and it wasn’t long before an argument began:
“Hey, Eagle-Claw…if that’s your real name…you don’t know me!”
“Aw, come on, Buckle-Hat…I was just kidding around. I’m sure your Camaro horse is very manly. I bet the Pilgrim girls squeal with delight when you show up in the back parking lot of your old high school.”
“Are you saying something about Central High? We were undefeated in…aw, shut up.” “Hey, here comes little warrior Johnny Madden. What’s up, John? You cure that foot fungus yet?”
“You bet…with BOOM!… tough-actin’ Tinactin plants!”
Around this time, the in-laws pulled up in their covered wagon Nova.
“Hey, everybody! Made it from Jamestown in six hours, ten minutes! Not bad, seeing that cops were everywhere. Where’s the Merlot?”
“Quiet, Jeremiah. Let’s hug the little ones first. Oh wait, I forgot…we don’t have any grandchildren yet. Zedeciah and Abigail in the other cul-de-sac have nine grandkids. Must be nice. Just sayin’.”
Soon it was bird cutting time. In the spirit of cooperation and brotherhood, the men took turns carving the turkey and the women took turns criticizing them. The fowl was juicy and succulent, but that didn’t stop the guys from talking about how great it would be to get one of those deep-friers for next year. Sure, they can cause log cabin fires if used incorrectly, but you could have fried meat in one hour!!
The table was a magnificent display of mouth-watering treats and neighborly spirits. Some marveled at how beautiful everything was, while others commented under their breath how you could still see the tin can lining on the “home-made” cranberry sauce.
The savory meal was nothing short of majestic. Everyone went back for second helpings, even the squash casserole just so Aunt Prudence wouldn’t get her feelings hurt. She cried anyway, which almost ruined the mood for Pictionary. Almost, but the game indeed went on. Teams were split into males and females, but culture differences would prove burdensome for the men. During round one, the silly Europeans kept guessing “wigwam” when it was obvious their Chickasaw friends were drawing a casino. The females easily won the first round because of their innate ability to read each others’ minds, a talent they successfully passed down to future female generations. The guys tried smoking a peace pipe in order to focus, but it just gave them the munchies, and that was it for the leftovers.
Two cups of decaf and a few stereotypes later, it was time to break up the party. After all, the next day was the first shopping day of the Christmas season. The much anticipated Tickle Me Tonto doll was unveiling at the Squaw-Mart Supercenter, and although nobody really wanted it, commercial propaganda told them they had to have it.
Wasn’t that a fun trip down history lane? Stay tuned to this website for future lessons. Next time, I’ll discuss how Tiny Tim invented the mail-in rebate.
Happy Holidays, everyone!