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?