Friday, November 17, 2006

Thanksgiving Memories

My mom and I finally got around to confirming the Wausau-contingent of the family will indeed be going up to the homestead for Thanksgiving dinner. Now I'm in the mood to reminisce about my favorite Thanksgiving memories.

1. The Story Told Every Year. When my brother (who is now 36, I think) was a toddler, my mom had Thanksgiving dinner at her house for some extended family, like her siblings' families. That year, while the ladies were in the kitchen doing the final prep work on the meal, my dear brother climbed onto the dining room table, sat down amid the serving dishes that were already placed, and helped himself to a feast, with his bare hands of course. He was partaking in a fistful of coleslaw when my snobby aunt came in with the dinner rolls. She flipped out, being a germ-aphobe, but everybody else just laughed their heads off. The punch line is always "He really likes coleslaw."

2. Christmas ASAP. For years when I was living with my parents, it was tradition for me to start dragging up the Christmas decorations as soon as the table was cleared. My dad is allergic to needle-producing trees, so we always had an artificial one. I'd start hauling up the boughs and boxes of lights and ornaments all by myself. I think it started when I was eight. I'd start trying to move furniture around to make room for the tree, and then I'd unpack everything. I don't have any memories of anybody helping me with this, and we do have some funnily decorated trees in our photo album. I was anxious for the holiday to start.

3. How many can we seat on the new couch? Our family keeps growing, but my parents' house doesn't get any bigger. Two parents, four adult children with spouses, five grandchildren (plus one due any day now). The dining room table seats six. The breakfast bar seats two. And then we have two card tables in the living room for the rest. It gets pretty crazy. For some reason, the house doesn't feel cramped until we all try to get in the same area of the house to eat. There's three bedrooms, a full basement, and a big yard. We tend to spread out. Old-school Nintendo in the basement, movies in my parents' bedroom, snow fights (if there is any of the white stuff) outside. Inevitably, there are munchkins running around the house like syphilitic monkeys, running into people and causing mischief, but that's okay, as long as an uncle isn't trying to sleep in one of the bedrooms. It's a large, chaotic household for a few hours, and then everyone leaves to go back home.

4. The Cooking Of... Parker House rolls, apple pies, pumpkin pies, a turkey, a ham (for my brother-in-law who refuses to eat poultry), Secret Recipe Coleslaw (which is now just KFC coleslaw, out of the container and in a pretty serving dish), baked sweet potatoes, messy corn (creamed), fluffy fruit salad (the kind with marshmallows), mashed potatoes, more mashed potatoes (they're my favorite), homemade bread.

5. Butter, butter, who's got the butter? And last but not least... the necessity for two butter dishes on the dining room table. My dad insists on this. He always hates it when the butter dish is not right next to him, and he gets very bitter if, when he finally needs it, the darn butter is on the other end of the table.