Weird Relatives

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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.

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Thankful for the Grocery Store

He tasted better than he looked.
He tasted better than he looked.

I host Thanksgiving every year and this year was no different. I love having my family come over. We watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade together and sister Kiki and I prepare most of the dinner. Except, I have to make the turkey because he usually  needs to get in the oven before anyone arrives. It shouldn’t surprise you that touching an uncooked turkey sceeves me out. I hate sticking my hand inside that bird and pulling out those disgusting things wrapped in paper. I mean, come on, the turkey wasn’t born with paper in it’s orifice. Why wrap up its giblets and stick them back just so I have to pull it out? And all that red blood. Yuk. It occurred to me while preparing this year’s turkey, I should be thankful for grocery stores. Imagine if we had to hunt the turkey, defeather it, behead it, clean it and then cook it? If all that stuff was left up to me no one would have eaten. Ever. And what about ovens? I bet the pilgrims didn’t pull open a door and stick the turkey in a preheated oven from Whirlpool. Did they build a fire in the back of their log cabin and stick the bird on a skewer? Thank God for grocery stores. That’s all I’m saying.

My aunt and uncle went to Italy in the 1980s to visit the village where our family is from. It’s insulting if you don’t let my family cook for you. No big surprise there. My relatives, in their primitive village, didn’t have ovens in their homes in the 1980s. They cooked over a grate in the floor and they sat on the floor to do it. Can you imagine? I am thankful I was born in 19 – well, in 20th century America instead of any time in the past 100 years in southern Italy.

My Italian relatives didn’t have screens on their windows either. They didn’t care if the bugs came in or the cows. You could be sitting down to dinner, on the floor next to the grate I’m assuming, it probably doubled as the heating vent, and ole Bessy the cow would come sauntering in the door without a screen on it and she’d saddle right up to the cooking vent and drop in her seasoning of chewed up grass.

When my great-grandmother came to America in the 1930s to join her husband, bringing my teenage grandfather with her, she took all the screens off the windows of their home. Someone said to her, “if you take the screens down the flies will come in.” Her response: “If they come in, they have a way to get out.” How do you argue with that logic? After some time in America my great-grandmother begged her husband to return her to her village in Italy. Once she got home she decided she wanted to return to America. She must’ve missed the screens and the oven. Probably the grocery store too. Just saying.

Happy Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving!

 

It’s that time of year again. The time to food shop for all the relatives coming to your house to eat. And you don’t even have to be Italian for this holiday which is lucky for you because Italians eat around every occasion. We even make up occasions so we can feed you. Just ask my mother.

I was in the grocery store the other day getting all stocked up on Prosciutto, cheese already cut into little cute cubes so I don’t have to do it, chocolate cake because what’s a holiday without chocolate, and of course the turkey, that no one will really eat because we all like the side dishes better, but the Coffee King looks good holding a carving knife so why stop a good thing?

I loaded up my shopping cart to resemble a volcano about to erupt and dragged the cart into the check out line. I’ll be honest here for a second. I always check to see who the cashier is. I’ve shopped at the same food store for three years now. I’m getting to know who works the registers and who packs a mean bag. In other words, if I don’t like the way you bag I don’t stand in your line. Got it?

So many registers were open and I was tired of pushing and shoving my massive load around so I only checked the first few registers I passed and then settled on an older woman with curly hair not much taller than the belt. I figured that could me in a few years so why not stop? Her name was Mary. Hey, like my mother’s and they were the same size. I wonder if Mary the cashier was Italian too? I should’ve asked. Well, hang on a second, if she was Italian she wasn’t from my group because Mary was a terrible bagger.

We know I’m slightly OCD and I like my things lined up neatly in a row, so I put my groceries on the belt grouped by category. Freezer stuff together, non-food items together, bread together. Follow me? Good. I do this because it makes putting the groceries away easier and it keeps the ice cream from turning to cold soup in July. Most cashiers understand this. Some even compliment  me on it which means they have the same disorder I do. Not our friend Mary.

Mary put the carrots with the crackers. What? Carrots go with the other fruits and vegetables. Didn’t she notice where on the belt they were? The carrots can’t stay cold next to a box of Wheat Thins. And she put the meat with the milk. Now I know my Jewish readers are cringing right about now. Meat should be in a separate bag in case it bleeds on the other groceries. No one wants to be bled on. Trust me. She put the box of garbage bags with the bread. Do I really have to explain this?

Typically, I rearrange the bags when people like Mary drop items into the plastic all whilly nilly, but I controlled myself. It’s Thanksgiving. Maybe she was having a bad day or maybe it was her first day on the job or maybe she hates her job and was taking it on my dinner rolls. Either way, it didn’t matter.

What matters is I’m able to load up my cart with all the things my family wants to eat like mushrooms shoved into the stuffing or mashed potatoes and gravy and buy it for them. What matters is the Coffee King gets to carve our turkey again. What matters are my Noodges. I pushed my cart through the parking lot and to my car hoping Mary has a nice Thanksgiving even if she can’t bag groceries.

And I’m wishing all of you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving too. Just beware of Mary.

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving – Part 2

photo (22)Thanksgiving brings out the best in people. Don’t you agree? With the constant reminders of what to be thankful for we are met with the extra smile, someone holding the door just a moment longer, or a fervent wave from the neighbor that never looks up from their mailbox.

I try to pretend no one is fighting in the aisles over the popular video game or that police are stationed outside Walmart on Black Friday, just in case. Using my imagination is my gift. Don’t deny me.

And then there’s my crazy Italian family. Another successful Thanksgiving is checked off the list. Good food, good company, minus my sister who ditched us, but who’s counting that? My mother wanted know why in my last post, Happy Thanksgiving, yoga was listed ahead of our family on my gratitude list. Do you see what I mean about crazy? That list was in no particular order. But then many of my conversations with my mother go like this:

Mom – “What gum did your son want?”

Me – “It’s pink.”

Mom – “It’s tape?”

Me, louder – “It’s pink!” You get the drift?

And you’ll be glad to know my grandmother invested in some tights.

May your holidays be merry and bright and just a little crazy. I know I wouldn’t have it any other way, but definitely in that order!

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving just a day away the inevitable question hovers on everyone’s lips. I think most people state the obvious: family, friends, health. Years ago I started keeping a gratitude journal so I could always remember how blessed I was no matter what was happening in my life. In the beginning I had to state at least five things. The list grew quickly from there.

I thought I would share some of my things. Please share what you’re grateful for with me. I’d love to hear them.

Husband

Children

Our health

Our  home

The sunshine

Yoga

My friends

My family (yes, even the crazy Italians)

For being a writer

Trees

For my friend Marissa forgiving me for forgetting our breakfast. (I was sick, but that’s no excuse.)

I’m even grateful for the negative people who have crossed my path because I learned something about myself from each one of them.

And the list goes on and on.

Happy Thanksgiving, my faithful reader. I’m grateful for you too.