It’s Thanksgiving Eve, a preparation day. People are cleaning their houses, baking pies and setting tables. Tonight I too will be preparing for a day spent at my sister’s surrounded by family. I will make my famous cheesecake, bake the requested cookies and build my defenses which by end of day tomorrow will lie in a pile of rubble and need to be rebuilt again before Christmas. Spending time with my family is not for the weak. They are a tough yet predictable crowd.
It will start off simply enough. I will arrive after picking up my 93 year old grandmother. She will look fine but she won’t have put on the right clothes according to my mother. Frankly I’ll just be glad if she remembered to put clothes on. I’ll deflect the artillery a bit for her by wearing very stylish jeans and sweater which of course are ultimately jeans and a sweater. I could wear a ball gown and still not be appropriately dressed so why not be comfortable. Then the following conversation will take place:
My mother: “Is Mr. No Game coming?”
Me: “Not for dinner but he’ll come down later for dessert.”
My Mother in a snarly tone: “Why not?”
Me: “Because he also has a family that celebrates Thanksgiving.”
My Mother: “He ate with them last year.”
Me: “He eats with them every year.”
My Mother: “Well what time is he coming?”
Me: “When he is done eating dinner.”
My Mother: “What time is that?”
Me: “I don’t know. It doesn’t matter to me so what does it matter to you?”
My Mother: “It doesn’t but it would be nice if he were here.”
Me: “His family feels the same way so that’s why he’s there.”
My Mother: “Why didn’t you go there?”
Me: “Because I didn’t want to listen to you bitch about it for the next 17 years.”
I will then walk away and my reverse eating disorder will kick in. My reverse eating disorder is a strange thing that happens to me. Whenever I am within 500 feet of a relative, I eat nonstop. If I was a purger it wouldn’t be such a problem but I’m not so I just eat myself until I am stuffed to the point of unbuttoning my pants and sitting on the sofa like a sitcom man. This will begin the food critiques.
Despite my better judgment, this year I am bringing a delicious lobster dip that I love and know my family will as well, but it’s a first time presentation which will require a 20 discussion as to where I bought it, what is in it and how much it cost during which time I will eat more than half of it chased with cheese and crabbies (a family tradition appetizer). Inevitably despite the fact that it will be eaten in its entirety, the dip will be voted down as a do over due to its decadence, cost or general people’s blatant disregard for anything new. Before dinner starts I will well on my way to over eating. Then dinner which my sister insists on cooking by herself every year is served. I applaud her taking this on but she likes to make a less than traditional feast parallel to a traditional feast of instant foods that only her kids are allowed to eat. Last year we began the meal with sausage soup – not soup with sausage in it but rather pureed sausage. There was also cheese stuffing. There is something unsettling about the stringy pull of melted mozzarella coming out of a turkey. All the while her children are eating Stove Top, instant potatoes and canned cranberry sauce that the rest of us would pay top dollar for. By the end of the meal and discussion surrounding the culinary experiments, my sister will be near tears with irritation and lack of appreciation for her attempts, failed as they are. Then dessert will be served and despite the fact that I am stuffed to the point of nausea, I will have a piece of every pie and cake that will be present. Then the classic cheesecake that I bring will be scrutinized and topping choices questioned despite the fact that it is the exact same cheesecake and topping that I bring every year because it is delicious and everyone loves it. The chocolate cream pie will also be dissected despite its normal rotation. Then I can go home.
I will end my night no doubt wrapped in my Snuggie and curled up in the chair with a stomach ache that is half over eating half ulcer from dealing with my family. This year perhaps I’ll try to curb my eating and ignore the critical undertones of all conversations…or perhaps I should handle Thanksgiving the way most people do…drink heavily and be belligerent enough to get invited back next year.