Weekend Special – T Day – Some Holiday Ramblings

Hello again, friends.. I feel like I should come up with a new greeting but that’s the best I can do right now. Seems like last time I wrote about this holiday or anything relating to it, was just last week but, in fact, it’s been a year. I have no idea what happened to that year. It is like, I have put off what could be done today until tomorrow, and tomorrow is gone already.Β  There was a time when I looked forward to this T holiday.. Not for the dinner and trimmings but for the 2 day break from school that came with it. That was when I didn’t have bills to pay though.

Fact is, I don’t even like turkey that much. I would really rather have a steak instead. That way when dinner is over, give the scraps to the dog, so he can be thankful too, and we don’t have to suffer through the next week of leftovers all made of some concoction derived from the turkey.

I can remember back to the days when mom would host the big party. For a few days before the big feast, she would begin thawing the turkey that she had bought a month or two prior. On Wednesday night, she would begin putting everything together, opening cans of stuff and mixing all the ingredients, stuffing the bird.. None of that stove top here, this was home made. She would spend the entire evening, usually after coming home from work, doing all the prep work.

While she was doing that, During my college years, the night before T day was the evening of my fraterity’s ‘Wild Turkey Bash’.. The biggest party on campus in the fall. Roughly 500 people through the door that evening. 15 kegs of the cheapest swill we could buy. Admission, $5 per head. Must be 21 to enter. The next day, we would wheel the 16th keg a few blocks away to Woodward Ave to watch the Thanksgiving day parade in Detroit. Fun times, I guess, I don’t really remember too much of it. These parties are no longer had from what I understand due to potential liability. About 2 weeks later, someone would get tired of the smell in the house and make the pledges clean the place up. It really was disgusting. Eventually someone would return the empty kegs for the deposits.

Anyway, after the parade for those of us who went, we would depart for our respective homes (commuter school) not to return for at least 4 days. Upon walking through the door at home, there would be that familiar smell. The turkey in the oven, the pies ready to bake, Silver all polished for the big dinner, dishwasher running to make sure all the plates, cups, and saucers were ready. Add to that, the smell of pine-sol as mom would be scrubbing the floors and everything else to make the place presentable. Did I help? Absolutely not.. Too hung over and probably still a bit drunk. Besides, Mom had a method and helping proved to be more of a hindrance than anything else. Oh sure there was putting the leafs in the table so we could cram a dozen or more people around it. Bringing up the chairs and whatnot.. But, the actual work of putting it together was usually on mom. That’s kind of the way she preferred it.

As family would start to arrive, they would offer to help but she would just tell them to sit down. We had a kitchen that shared the dining room with a long counter separating the two. She would ring the dinner bell and then the stampede would begin. Inside of about 10 minutes they would all fill their bellies, except for the kids, who weren’t interested in eating, then the cleanup would begin. Mom wasn’t a clean freak by any stretch but she didn’t like to leave things waiting.

About the time she would get the stuff put away that needed to be put away, poured herself a cup of coffee and went to sit back down, the family was already ready to leave. I don’t know what their big damn hurry was, they were just going home. Rude if you ask me. In fact, my father always hated that my mom would go to all this bother for these people. He always wanted to just fire up the grill and make some hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner instead of all the trouble. He could be a bit of an ass about it but I understood his point. These people weren’t there to visit with family, they were there to fill their bellies. Many of them for a second or third time. I think her only peace on that day was taking her dog for his walk after dinner.

I may have told you about this before, it wasn’t thanksgiving but same type of situation.. Mom spent all day preparing a dinner for my dad’s family. His brother, wife, her son (second marriage), whom we, had never met. That’s okay, the guy was an asshole and he’s dead now anyway. I’ll spin that yarn for you someday. Anyway, again, just as mom got things cleaned up, went to sit down, they all belched, got up, and left. That was the last big dinner mom planned. From then on out, if people wanted to come, there would be food. If not, oh damn well. Dad was right, especially when it came to his side of the family. Don’t put yourself out for them, he would say (but not so polite)..

I guess I’ve gotten a little away from myself here with my bitching about people I don’t care about. I still remember the last thanksgiving we had. You all know, mom was sick, she didn’t cook that year. We didn’t do anything special for the day except go to her brother’s house. By that time, she could barely eat anything and I knew, that would be the last one we would have her for. The docs were trying everything they could to at least help her gain weight and strength but they hadn’t given up yet. At least that is what she told me. I can still remember though, seeing her at that 4 person card table (this is the way we eat at holidays at my uncle’s house) half asleep or passed out from the pain meds. Others around her talking as if nothing was going on. She never wanted a pity party so I imagine she appreciated their effort of them trying to ignore what was going on. I guess, in a way, I was lucky.. In that, I knew that would be the last one. I can’t say I enjoyed it very much and this time, we were the first to leave.

I am sorry, I didn’t set out to write yet another downer post about my mother but you’re all such good listeners. I will tell you what though, the Friday after, Black Friday, she still insisted on going to work and that is exactly what we did.

I guess that’s about it from me for now except to say, I’d rather eat at Snoopy’s house this year. Popcorn and Root Beer.. Yum πŸ˜€

About MelTheHound

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14 Responses to Weekend Special – T Day – Some Holiday Ramblings

  1. BB says:

    I can totally relate to your mom, MTH. We always have the family dinner at my house and I’m happy as long as people stay out of my way. I’d rather do it myself. As the older family members have either passed away or are getting frail and the younger family members are getting married and splitting time between families, it seems nobody wants to take the time to “visit” anymore. It’s more like show up, eat, then go. It’s kind of sad. At least this year I have the grandbaby to coo over. And I’ve scaled down a bit too. Not so many different items, just the basics, but I still use real china. No plastic or paper plates or cups. lol. Oh, and turkey’s not my favorite either, that’s why I make ham too.

    • MelTheHound says:

      I’ll take the ham any day.. By the end anyone coming to our house would be lucky to get a stouffers turkey pot pie.. That’s how little mom cared about cooking those big dinners anymore..

  2. Stacey says:

    My mom also spent days cooking, getting everything just right for the family to gather around the table for Thanksgiving.Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, Cousins, a real motley crew. Of course by the time dinner was ready to be eaten the kids were the only ones sober enough to actually eat. I couldn’t wait to grow up and get drunk and have fun like they all did. It was my favorite holiday. Cut to me, 30 years old, the only sober adult in the house, trying to make the gravy, mash the spuds, cut the bird and plate it all up while my mother is drunkenly saying “oh, you think you are so much better than us because you don’t drink.” Mind you, I hadn’t said a word about the fact that Dad had just fallen off his chair and broke his wineglass, other than when my sister started yelling call 911 and I said Christ, grow up, he is just wasted. And I did drink occasionally but was smart enough not to drink with family. By the time I got everything done I would be the only adult with an appetite since I hadn’t filled myself with liquid courage. I would eat, clean up the whole shebang and get the hell out before the drunken insults destroyed me. After that I boycotted Thanksgiving with the family for a few years. I was sick to death of the booze, we are not talking catching a buzz here, we are talking full on wasted long before the meal was served and I was struggling with depression and knew I needed to stay away for my own mental health. When I was feeling better I started going again, gone were the huge crowds, now it was just my folks, my son and occasionally my sister and her kids. The booze still flowed freely. Luckily I worked in food service and at a retirement home so many holidays I was happy to be working to avoid it all. 2009 mom was sick and not getting as drunk. Dad was hammered but hey, what else is new? 2010 I woke on Thanksgiving to a heavy snow. My folks lived 35 miles from me and when I had been there earlier in the week it took me 6 hours to get home on I-5. So I called Dad, said I don’t think I can make it down this year, I have to be to work at 4 and can’t take the chance of being stuck in the snow. He said no biggie, he was just making a small meal since Mom was so sick and out of it. He said don’t worry, she doesn’t even know what day it is so she won’t be mad at you for not showing up. I told him I would be over Saturday to see her. Dad called me Friday saying Mom was making weird noises when she tried to talk and he was worried she might have had a stroke. I told him to call 911 and met him at the hospital. It was not a stroke. Her lifelong alcoholism had finally taken its toll and her organs were shutting down. I will spare you the scene at the hospital and just say stage 4 liver disease is a pretty horrible way to go out. She died Saturday. Even though she wouldn’t have known I was there I still regret not making it home. My favorite childhood holiday now brings me sadness. And we now go out to eat. Wow, sorry for unloading here Mel.

    • MelTheHound says:

      The first part of your story reads like an outline for one of those holiday movies when there is always one who got away and dreads going home again..

      I understand all too well that stage4 scene.. You are welcome to unload any time you like.. I never know what I am going to get in response to these posts.. When I said you are all good listeners, I try to be one too πŸ˜‰

    • (((Stacey))), “My favorite childhood holiday now brings me sadness.” You’re not alone, there.

  3. mth, Our Mom used to make the same effort – she’d start her baking days in advance – only to have folks eat and run. Like you, I have no idea what they had to rush home for, but, off they went, leaving with some of the leftovers. The clean up was all on her and a couple of us who chose to stay and help.
    As you already know, my Mom’s last Thanksgiving didn’t come with a warning. She was gone four days later. So, in a way, yes, I guess you were lucky. It does cast a very long shadow on all of the Thanksgivings since, though.
    I do make turkey with all the fixings for the two of us (and the very fortunate pawed ones) – only because leftovers are my favorite.

    • MelTheHound says:

      Rarely even got the leftovers. Forgot about that part of it. Typically, the bird would miraculously regrow legs and walk out the door πŸ˜†

      Speaking of pawed ones, when do we get an update on Si ?

      • Got your note. Thank you, my friend.
        Oh, you’ll be hearing from and about Si sooner rather than later. I have to say that he’s just what we needed around here. There’s nothing like a happy puppy to put a little pep in everybody’s step (she says as she lets the pack loose in the yard for the umpteeneth time today). πŸ˜€

  4. Lady Chatterley says:

    Enjoyed your story, Jeff! Looking back is always a little bittersweet, isn’t it?

  5. Got to say that it doesn’t matter if your extended family is large or small, sometimes the damn Thanksgiving traditions just get in the way of being thankful! My husband’s family is small, while my family is huge and we have done both (out of town by the way) versions. When our kids were babies we also flew grandparents out to celebrate with us. Then we decided that staying home with our kids was the route to take and that some new traditions were in order.
    Our tradition is to have everyone who is around the table tell what he/she is most thankful for and why. Today I dug out the folder with the kids’ early drawing, poems, photos, random wishbones and all the slips of paper that people wrote down what they wanted to say at dinner. LOL, maybe this is the year I get rid of the folder and actually put them in a scrap type book! So, over the years, we as a family, have had a sailor or two that are stationed at the near by Naval Base over for dinner and watching football games (this program has gotten so popular and there is now a waiting list of those who want to adopt a sailor! – this is a good thing). We have as a family, worked at our local community sponsored for the less fortunate Thanksgiving dinners. Of course, we have our own Thanksgiving feast, it just tastes better knowing we made someone else’s day a little better.
    Today my college sophomore is at the local food pantry working, instead of enjoying his favorite past time of sleeping. And my youngest is staying after school today to help pack care packages of food and winter clothing for a church near his high school. My kids know that being “thankful” takes many forms and I am thankful that they do so willingly and that they truly enjoy giving back.
    So to everyone here, have a safe and happy Turkey day (even if you don’t do the turkey part) and while you celebrate the day, know that there are others who are thankful that you are part of their lives too.

  6. Pingback: Happy Thankgiving – Top Ten Lists / Survivor | Lynn's Place

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