I know everyone has their horror stories of Thanksgivings where family members come to blows with each other. Not my family. We were raised to be civil at all times, to never raise your voice, to “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” However, just because we did not have any screaming matches, does not mean we were immune to the “unusual.”
So, here is mine. I’d love to hear yours.
First – a little background. To understand this story, you need to understand we are lily-white pilgrims. Well, almost anyway. My family first arrived in America in 1786 (I think that is right, but who is going to dispute it?) We settled on our family land where 5 generations of children were born in 1803, in Ohio, the same year it became a state. You didn’t come to dinner in bare feet or T-shirts. You wouldn’t dream of saying “I don’t like that.” You waited to be excused from the table by the hostess. Cardinal rule: always be polite. Still, they (my grand-parents and parents) considered themselves liberal and “tolerant” – their word, not mine, of those people that were different than us. Keep in mind, I never even met a black person until I was in high school, and my first Asian person was probably not until after I was married. So, I was brought up slightly (okay- maybe a little more than slightly) naive.
But shortly after I was married, our family included a Mormon sister-in-law, a Italian Catholic sister-in-law, (I was told “if you don’t don’t date them, you won’t marry them) – I guess that didn’t stop by brother. Note: my sister-in-law, Pat is one of my favorite people in the whole world, an Asian sister-in-law and my cousin married a black man. So the family was pretty happy when I married a white Protestant boy from our home town. (Well, almost happy – but that is another story.)
Okay, I am digressing. Back to Thanksgiving and my most unique one.
I believe it was 1995. We had recently moved to back Ohio from Virginia. For a change, most of my children (if not all) were in the same town. I have always been proud that Thanksgiving at my house meant, “Bring anyone that is alone to share the day.” So I never knew who my children (or I) might bring to Thanksgiving dinner.
My son, Dru (in his 20’s) said he was bringing some guests. Great. The table was all set. Everything was beautiful, good china, lace tablecloth from the early 1900’s, candles lit, my family all around me, turkey on the table. Dru was late (wasn’t he always?) With him was a Lesbian Asian couple that did not speak English. They had never seen a Thanksgiving turkey. They had no idea what to do with mashed potatoes and gravy. Dru had to do a pantomime Charades type demonstration to show them how to put gravy on top of the mashed potatoes. That in itself was hysterical.
After dinner, everyone settled in the living room to watch football. What else would anyone do on Thanksgiving? Our guests snuggled together on the couch, much to the chagrin of my 80 year old father, who tried not to stare, but whose eyes were glued like flies on a fly-strip. They managed to indicate to Dru somehow that they wanted us to change to channel. When he reached for the remote (the only family member NOT a football freak), his sister, Amy said, “What are you doing?”
Dru said, “Changing the channel. The girls don’t want to watch football.”
Jumping to her feet, hand on her hip, Amy glared, voice raised (yes-raised), said, “In THIS house, we watch FOOTBALL on Thanksgiving!”
So much for “tolerance.”
What is your story?
2 thoughts on “What is your most unique Thanksgiving?”
Happy Thanksgiving, Joanne! That’s quite a story you had to tell. Our most memorable Thanksgiving had to be in 1986, when our daughter Abby (an only child) was 6 yrs. old. We were in Detroit to watch the Lions play at the Silverdome (now long gone), then went out to dinner (for the 1st time ever on Thanksgiving… but going out is now our tradition). Anyway, the restaurant was the only one open in Ann Arbor that day, and it was packed. They’d even ‘packed the tables and chairs tightly together’. It was hard to move around. We were sitting at a long table directly in front of the window; our family group numbered nearly 20. Abby, who was seated next to me (I was at the end of the table) wanted to get up and go back to the buffet for more turkey. I’d just started eating my salad, and told her to wait until I stood up and moved my chair; there just wasn’t enough room for her to scooch behind me. But being her usual have-to-do-it-now! self, she insisted on trying to scoot behind me.. and she slipped, falling against the heater at the edge of the wall under the window. When she fell, it knocked the cover of the heater off, and all the little metal slats in a vertical row became like little knives. Instantly, a deafening scream pierced through the restaurant. People quieted, stopped eating. Everyone turned in our direction. My husband grabbed Abby, who kept screaming as he carried her through the restaurant toward the ladies’ room. I took her inside… I knew there was blood involved. Then we got her up on the counter in the bathroom (which was empty, thank God). We took one look and knew we were headed to the emergency room. Through her torn pants, we saw at least a 6″ slice of open flesh on the fatty part of her leg (the calf). The manager of the restaurant came running in with a band-aid. I said, “That’s not going to help.” He took one look at her leg and nearly fainted. Then off we went to the hospital. The rest of our dinner party sat there, feeling horrible, not knowing what to do (besides drink a lot of wine). Remember, this was in the days before cell phones, etc. Three hours later, we took Abby home to her uncle’s house where we were staying. She had 18 stitches in her leg. Thank God no tendons or bones had been damaged… just the fatty part of her calf behind her shin bone. She is now 33 years old, and still has a visible scar. She points to it now when her children don’t listen to her, and reminds them that they should always listen to their mother. P.S. The restaurant picked up the tab for our Thanksgiving meal… but I never did get to eat anything more than my salad that day. And after Abby’s accident, I totally lost my appetite.
Oh my Kathleen, that is a memorable one, but not so great for your daughter. My guess is that even though she may use the scar as a testament to her children, I doubt it really stopped her behavior as a child. My guess is she was (or is still) very willful. I think they are born that way.