Weird Relatives

Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Thanksgiving is only three weeks away. I can’t believe it really. I’m not sure where October went. I know I showed up everyday for the entire month, but I didn’t do anything exciting like jet off to Europe and walk the runway. (They won’t let me on the runway. One, I’m too short. Two, I’m too old, and Three, well, let’s just say I had to do a lot of fancy foot work to get the records expunged.)

I love Thanksgiving. It’s one of my favorite holidays. Probably because it’s the one time of year I make stuffing and everyone loves my stuffing. How that happened, I have no idea, but far be it for me to argue when I’m getting a compliment. I also love the Macy’s Parade. I have a thing for parades. Probably dates back to my baton twirling days. But I digress.

Here’s the thing about Thanksgiving. The weird relatives have to come out. We can hide them all year long and pretend Aunt Sally doesn’t exist, but on Thanksgiving we have to unlock the attic door and allow her to see the light. We can handle Aunt Sally for one day, right? Yeah right. Until she yanks the turkey leg straight from the body of the bird and starts chasing Uncle Arthur around the table spewing those chants she thinks keep turkey spirits away. Yeah, you know what I mean.

I like to think of weird relatives as characters in a play. Everyone has a role. We have the director. That’s usually me. We have the carver. The carver likes to play with knives and has a hidden fetish for Sweeney Todd. There’s the sensible one. Her food isn’t allowed to touch on the plate which means several trips back and forth into the kitchen where she carefully washes her plate before she tries the mashed potatoes and the corn. And of course there’s Aunt Sally. I try to cast her as an understudy, but there’s no stopping that woman once she gets her hands on that bird.

How boring would Thanksgiving be if we didn’t break bread with our weird relatives? I mean, come one, no one actually plays football on the front lawn while the food is cooking like normal people do they?

And what about the stragglers? Or as I lovingly refer to them, the inhabitants of the Island of Misfit Toys. There’s Bob. We love Bob. Bob has no partner, no children, no relatives anyone can identify. He belongs to no social groups and the one he tried to join asked him politely to leave. He comes to Thanksgiving dinner every year in his plaid suit jacket complete with elbow patches. He sports the infamous comb over now beginning under his ear instead of above it. What I can’t figure out is why he brings his briefcase with him. I don’t ask. I just show him to his spot next to Aunt Sally. At least he doesn’t eat with his hands. Though he does allow the gravy to touch the cranberry sauce so he can’t sit next to the sensible one. We tried that once. It ended badly.

I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving’s display of weird relatives. It’s only at Thanksgiving that I am serenaded by the constant sucking of one’s teeth. I’ll keep that relative nameless. They read the blog.

So, faithful reader, who will be sitting at your Thanksgiving table this year? And please provide pictures.


5 thoughts on “Weird Relatives

  1. I miss pre-9/11 Thanksgivings, when everyone just enjoyed each other’s company — and each other’s peculiarities — before personal political ideologies poisoned everything, making it virtually impossible for loved ones to even enjoy a simple meal together anymore. Given this contentious election season, I imagine this coming Thanksgiving will be torturous, regardless of which controversial candidate wins next week. I’m thankful my wife and I will be celebrating by ourselves out here in L.A.!

    1. Do you think families enjoyed each other more prior to 9/11? I will say we were somewhat less politically correct back then. I hate to think families would allow their Thanksgiving to be spoiled by talk of politics when there is a cornucopia of topics they could discuss instead. I wish you and your wife a very happy Thanksgiving!

      1. I can’t speak for other families, but mine became very politically polarized in the wake of 9/11, as one of our direct relatives died in the towers. The lion’s share became hardcore neocons, with a small contingent remaining conservative in their values, but not militaristic about them. Beyond that, there were a handful of us — and I mean that literally, as you could count us all on one hand — who were and are steadfastly liberal, and we have learned to keep our mouths shut (even when vomiting in them!). 9/11 didn’t just spoil Thanksgiving; it spoiled everything. I recently lamented being so far from home, but it does have its advantages some days…

        A very Happy Thanksgiving to your family, as well, Stacey! Definitely thankful to have met so many new online “friends” in the blogosphere!


      2. Sean, I replied to your comment days ago, but it appears it didn’t post. I wanted to say how sorry I am you lost someone on 9/11. And I’m sorry it divided your family. I wish you and your wife a very happy Thanksgiving. I am also grateful for my online friends. They bring a joy into my daily life.

  2. Thanks for the condolences, Stacey. There’s no question I will forever look back on 9/11 as an unfortunate seismic turning point, for reasons both global and very personal. But my wife and I don’t let other people’s misery and/or politics affect our life in any profound way. On the contrary, since turning forty, I have had a renewed appreciation for the people in my life and the time I’ve been given thus far with them — that’s what I’ll be thankful for next week (and always). Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving, too!

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