In a couple of days there will be a gathering in our home to celebrate a day of giving thanks . . . Thanksgiving. Around the table will be most of the family . . . the granddaughter . . . some of the children’s in-laws and their family . . . and, the two Dachshunds. The table will be spread with the full compliment of food befitting a Thanksgiving dinner. There will be a turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberries and cranberry sauce, gravy, rolls, cornbread casserole . . . the whole nine-yards. Plus it will be almost one hundred percent organic because it is good for our health, though my wallet would say that it isn’t help it much. We will pause, join hands, and give thanks . . . and, with the “Amen” all hell will break loose.
As an introvert, crowds bother me . . . especially crowds that gather in my domain. I like people, but not all at once. But, this is an annual expectation from the female side of the family, and one that I must endure. Now, do not get me wrong. I love my family. I love my children’s in-laws, they are practically full-fledged family—they are good people. I love the feast. I even love the two Dachshunds who will be hanging out by the granddaughter who hasn’t quite mastered the art of keeping her food on the plate yet. It is just that I do not always want them all in my life at one time. Because of that, the wife has given me ample time to prepare myself for the big day.
Part of that preparation has to do with what happens after the “Amen”. Of course there will be the usual mauling of the turkey and all of the trimmings. It will be the usual feast of stuffing the participants. I can handle that . . . it is all of the stuff around the feast that I need to get a handle on . . . stuff like having to talk to one another . . . having a conversation. I am not always great at conversation . . .
A couple of years ago, the big Thanksgiving feast took place at our daughter’s in-laws. There were the two families, including the grandparents on her husband’s side of the family. Our son-in-law’s grandfather is a graduate of the University of Montana in Missoula. This makes him a great big Griz fan. Me, well, I never grew up in Montana and thus I have no allegiance to either of the football powers in Montana . . . I don’t care to be a Griz or a Bobcat fan when it comes to football . . . I am a diehard Cornhusker fan. Little did I realize how seriously they take their Grizzly football among the alumni.
Taking advantage in the lull of conversation at the table I ask the son-in-law’s grandfather—the Griz fan, if he had seen the prediction for the Grizzly football season in the newspaper. He replied no. I said, “Nine and two . . . nine acquittals and two convictions.” Of course that was the year that the Grizzly football team was getting into a lot of trouble with the law in Missoula. Needless to say, Grandpa did not appreciate the joke. Haven’t seen him at a family Thanksgiving since. Do you see what I am trying to say? Do you understand why I need time to prepare for these big gatherings?
I found an article about eight things that you should never say at a Thanksgiving dinner. Those eight things are:
--“Well somebody likes the stuffing.” I am not a stuffing person. The wife is making the stuffing this year. I live with the wife. I will cram the stuffing down no matter how much I dislike it. Thank goodness for gravy . . . gravy makes anything edible. But, I will not be the one saying anything about any of the food on the table. I like sleeping in my bed.
--“Do you know what they do to the turkey before it’s slaughtered?” Well, since our turkey is organic, I imagine that it died of old age. Most folks do not care where their food comes from . . . they just want to eat it. As far as I know, there are no PETA carrying card members gathering around our table . . . it just has to be organic. Our turkey is full of peace, love, and harmony.
--“Can you pass the yams, and I’m dropping out of law school.” Yams . . . sweet potatoes . . . not coming from my lips. I don’t like either of them. Nor will I announce that I am dropping out of law school. I don’t think that is the actual point behind this statement . . . the point is that one should not announce earth-moving announcements at the Thanksgiving table. It kind of puts a damper on the festivities . . . besides, we would never allow a lawyer to the table. Yeah, I know, we claim to be Christians, but we do have to draw the line somewhere.
--“Are you sure you need another glass of wine?” Don’t even ask. Yes, I need another glass of wine . . . I am an introvert and self-medicating might be the only way I make it.
--“I’m thankful that after Tom’s affair, he and I were able to work through our issues and move forward.” Well, good for her and Tom . . . more power to them . . . whoever they are. Again, another bombshell dropped on the table. Apparently bombshells are not acceptable at the Thanksgiving table . . . even acquittals and convictions. The past is the past and it is best to leave those moans and groans there. Besides, there will be plenty of wine to go around from the bottle.
--“And I’m thankful that most of my kids were able to take time out of their busy schedules to spend Thanksgiving with their mother (father). Even if you can only stay for one night.” Hey, as an introvert . . . one night is good for me. Actually, I am quite sad that not all of my children and their spouses could make it to the big deal. I really miss the two of them. I also am thankful for whoever can gather around the table . . . and, if that is only for a day or two, so be it. We will make the most of it, but I won’t complain if they have to go home early.
--“Do you have any salt?” Hey! This is fair game at our table. Ever since the wife went on a health kick to keep herself and me healthy, salt has disappeared in her cooking. Asking for salt is not a statement about the food sucking. Far from it . . . especially for those of us who grew up salting first and asking second. The wife keeps a shaker by my plate . . . she is a good wife.
--“I really miss Grandma’s pumpkin pie.” Well, I miss Grandma, but she can keep the pumpkin pie. I don’t like pumpkin pie . . . in fact, I am not even a big dessert person. Trust me, I won’t be saying anything about the pumpkin pie other than, “Ewwww!” Besides, I can handle the scorn of being un-American and passing on the pumpkin pie.
As good as those were, I have a few more I would add:
--Politics. I think you understand this one.
--Religion. Yes, the wife and I are ordained clergy, but we just want to enjoy the food, family, and fellowship without having a debate about whether Jesus walked on water or knew where all the rocks were in the lake.
--Future plans of the adult children. This one usually pits the children against the parents . . . expectations never mesh up with reality.
--Work. That is something I left at the office at 5:00PM on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and there is a reason I left it there.
--Jokes about Grizzly football . . . or Nebraska football . . . or any football.
I think I will survive. I usually do. As I stated earlier, we will all gather at the table, join hands and give thanks . . . and, there is much to be thankful for. For each individual gathered around our table, I am thankful that they are a part of my life. For the food placed upon the table for the big feast, I am thankful that I have food to eat because there are many who cannot. For the fellowship of the moment, there will be laughter, teasing, and great fun . . . I am thankful that I am not alone. For the opportunity . . . even as an introvert . . . I am thankful. Though I probably do not say it enough, I am thankful. The little girl in the cartoon is right, we need to be thankful more than one day a year. Hopefully we remember that as we give thanks.