For those of you who are unfamiliar with the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving, it all began when half my ancestors brought food to the other half of my ancestors (whom they believed were just visiting). The starving ancestors gratefully accepted the bounty. In the spirit of thanks, they broke bread together. A number of years later, the once-starving ancestors tried to wipe out the once-helpful ancestors, so no one would ever know they didn’t bring enough food to the potluck.
Hum. Possibly that was last year? Great Aunt Millie is still miffed at Second Cousin Eric for believing potato chips were enough of an offering. (Eric was right, by the way, these were Ruffled potato chips, with onion dip, therefore dressy enough for Thanksgiving.)
I find it highly unfortunate that a holiday centered around food has almost no food I like.
When we were kids, my cousin Tommy and I would stealth attack the canned olives while his mom was
cursing checking for Turkey done-ness. We stuffed a black olive on each finger, and crashed around the house pretending to be vampires (why black olives on each finger represented vampires remains a mystery).
Eventually my mother would grab each of us by the collar, snatch the olives off our fingers, and throw them back into the crystal bowl on the table. Which was politely passed around when it was time to eat.
The year we decided to use them as hand grenades was rather olive-less. No one knew what happened to them, including Tommy and I. Rascal (the dog) hoovered them up as soon as the olive projectiles hit the carpet. Tommy and I sat very still while, in the middle of dinner, Rascal puked on the floor and all the adults turned on each other, accusing each other of feeding Rascal under the table.
It was awesome.
From that Thanksgiving on, vampires was kiddie stuff: it was war. We varied the stolen food item (“Oh Lord, where are grandma’s deviled eggs? I know she brought them! My mother in law is going to kill me. Is Rascal locked up?”)
My mother kept swiping at the front of my good dress trying to get the yellow stuff off. To this day, she still believes it was pollen.
The pollen that got on me when I ran through the yard full of dead flowers.
Unlike me, Tommy was terrible at lying. He was always goofing up what I coached him to say: If anyone asks, say it’s pollen.
“What’s that yellow stuff in your hair, Tommy?”, says his mom.
Tommy would panic.
“It’s flowers! From running. I got flowers on me!”
His mother would stare at him. “Thomas, you know flour is white, right? Where did you get into flour?”
“POLLEN”, I would mouth at him.
“POULTRY!”, Tommy would shout in a panic.
My family came to believe Thanksgiving had a Tourettes-like effect on Tommy. They tried hiding the sugar.
“Now look what you’ve done”, I said, crossly. “They put the candy up.”
“Yeah. So. We find it. We eat it. Rascal goes down again.” said Tommy.
Whoa. He might be bad at lying, but he was brilliant. Presto. Rascal learned how to scale the bookcases.
Rascal was nearly always accidentally let out of the bedroom anyway. Adults. So stupid. They locked him in the same bedroom to which they steered guests to deposit their overcoats.
Tommy became adept at stealth missions, sending me out to distract, while he scaled the bookcase or hid the board game, Life (which we both hated, and always appeared after dinner for the kids to play).
I did the
lying creative planning, and Tommy did the superb mission control. Little did either of us know it would set the stage for our future selves.
Tommy went on to be a Marine: special forces, black ops. I went on to, uh…um…write stuff down, exactly as it happened.
Don’t mind the yellow smudge on your screen. It’s…pollen.
(Our tradition now is to buy everything we want for thanksgiving, go to the ocean, and come home and nuke it. Plenty of muss and fuss, but zero stress. This year’s Thanksgiving day at the ocean, below.)