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Reflections November 2017

Musings of an Undefeated Matriarch

The Dichotomy of Thanksgiving

By Sharon Kennedy

Diverse political opinions turn into screaming matches. Football fanatics fight over which game to watch. Yokel kin repulse city relatives. When the day finally ends and the front door slams behind the last guest, the hostess collapses on the couch and says “never again.”

Thanksgiving is one of those wonderful holidays when families and friends gather together and share a delicious meal. It’s a great time to reconnect with loved ones and acquaintances and reminisce about events of the past year. It’s the perfect holiday to introduce new babies and get out the old photograph albums. For those touting the latest technology, cell phones and tablets magically appear. Hours are spent poring over snapshots and selfies boring to everyone except those in the picture.

Television, newspaper, and magazine advertisements all show the same thing. Smiling people clapping as the hostess deposits the 20-pound turkey in the middle of a table laden with traditional Thanksgiving Day fare. Bowls of steaming vegetables, creamy mashed potatoes piled sky high, golden gravy swimming in porcelain boats, butter melting into warm dinner rolls, a dozen different casseroles, and a sideboard loaded with desserts beckon the company to dig in and enjoy. Someone says a blessing before the feast begins. Conversation is fast and easy, and the feeling of love and good humor is palpable.

At least that’s the picture Norman Rockwell would have us believe, and it’s one most families try to imitate with varying success, but Thanksgiving often goes more like this: Before dinner is served, guests stuff themselves with canapés, peanuts, Chex mix, chips, and a variety of colorful mints. When everyone is called to the table, some say they’re already full and will eat later. Others want to eat after they hunt deer, excuse themselves, and walk out the door. Some relatives arrive fully inebriated while others wait until the car is parked before they start drinking. Some cousins get along great. Others get out the boxing gloves. Babies cry. Dogs bark. Feathers fly.

The turkey is left in the oven too long and the breast is as dry as toast. Nobody likes the juicy leg meat, so the hostess feels obligated to fry boloney for fussy nieces and nephews. The mashed potatoes are lumpy and also tasteless because Cousin Ike is on a low-salt, no-butter diet.

The sweet potato casserole is more marshmallow than potato. The gravy has the consistency of water, and the boat is empty before it gets to Great-aunt Bertha.

In the midst of the commotion, the dinner rolls are forgotten and burn to a crisp, setting off the smoke alarm. Everybody ignores the green bean casserole. Nobody likes the oyster stuffing. Grandma’s upset because she forgot the sage dressing on her kitchen table. Those seated at the kids’ table start a food fight. The wiggly cranberry sauce lands on the floor and the dogs eat it.

After dinner, old uncles refuse to smoke on the porch and ignore the ashtrays. They grind out their cigars in the empty candy dishes. Old aunts, rouged to look like Kewpie dolls and doused in buckets of Tabu, force terrified toddlers to sit on their lap. Everybody talks and nobody listens. Diverse political opinions turn into screaming matches. Football fanatics fight over which game to watch. Yokel kin repulse city relatives. When the day finally ends and the front door slams behind the last guest, the hostess collapses on the couch and says “never again.”

The moral of this story is be happy if you’re alone on Thanksgiving Day or any other holiday. Give thanks if you’re not surrounded by a bunch of renegade relatives or false friends.

Don’t believe the hype surrounding the holidays and get upset because you’re on your own.
Embrace your solitude, order Chinese take-out, and watch your favorite television shows. Keep your chin up. Next year you might find yourself in the middle of a crazed mob and wish you had stayed home.

 

You know what I mean, don’t you?

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