This is an angry retelling of my bullsh*z Thanksgiving bonanza. However, it gets fairly amusing near the end. So bear with me. I promise I’ll try to make it light. Try.
Thanksgiving is a holiday I can do without. As a mere yout’, the holiday was celebrated at our home, my mother losing her mind and obsessing over the most mundane things while food went uncooked. It was also the only holiday my maternal grandparents would spend with us, suffering through a visit long enough to eat dinner before running off to my aunts’ house down the road, their favorite child with whom they spent all other holidays. And weekends. And annual tickets to “A Christmas Carol”. (I’m not bitter, I swear. I’m just accurate.)
Anyway, since we’ve all supposedly grown up (and frankly I can contest that on all points), my brother moved out and ‘married’, and my grandparents have passed away, my parents decided to start a new tradition: Disaster Thanksgiving, or the less PC, NSFW version that I prefer: Thanksgiving Clusterf*ck.
They’ve decided that instead of going to my paternal grandparents dinner (in which more food is served than could possibly be eaten by the entire city of Boston, all with a side of love), or going to our extended family’s giant dinner (where we would all be guaranteed a good time), we would instead make the dinner ourselves and then drive it twenty five miles into the city to eat at my brother’s apartment (where no fun is ever had. EVER).
The only back story that you need to know here is that my brother and I don’t get along. We’ve never got along. We’re completely opposite in nature. I’m a giver, he’s a taker. He’s also the favorite. C’est la vie. He married a girl with a handicap that makes them unable to travel to our parent’s house. Which is fine. I had no problem with his wife until their wedding last year, when I basically made them a wedding from scratch and she became a psychotic Bridezilla (a word I typically find offensive, but is the only thing that aptly describes what went down last November). After many months of death threats and defaming me via social media, one could see why I’m none too pleased with either of them, and why spending time with them is not my idea of fun.
But we’re a family dammit. So even though I wanted nothing to do with it, I am told that I either show up or never show up to anything again (which is kind of a stupid thing to say when you’re original point is that we’re a family and we need to stick together). I figured, fine, I’ll cooperate. But the second things start to go downhill I’m flipping the table and screaming “PROSTITOOTION WHOORE!!!!” at the top of my lungs.
It’s a week before Thanksgiving and my family still hasn’t shopped. My mother has already gone into lunatic shutdown mode, so I plan to make all the food so she doesn’t ruin the day with a breakdown or just panic to a point where she spends the day in hospital (RE: Christmas three years ago) or tries to otherwise sabotage it (RE: Last years Drunken Christmas). I don’t mind cooking, it’s just I’m a lactose intolerant vegetarian. You can only imagine how well that goes over with you know, typical Americans on Thanksgiving. So BB agreed to do the meaty bits and I do everything else. That meant cooking eight dishes for dinner as well as blondies, brownies and three pies. Don’t ask.
I make it happen like a freakin turkey day miracle, and we get my wound-up-to-all-hell Mum and all of the grub in the car, and I loop ‘Funky Fanfare’ by Keith Mansfield on my headphones and take off for the inner city. When we get to his place my brother meets us, helps us into his apartment, and acts like he’s really grateful but yet put out by our being there. As if the holiday he begged for us to bring to him was really putting him out, when all he had to do was clean up a little, clear off the table and turn the oven to 350 before we showed up. He didn’t even have to provide silverware. When we open the door the first thing that hit you was the stink. Then the absolute filth, as if no one had cleaned anything in that apartment since they moved in two years ago. The ground was sticky, there was cat hair and food and feces EVERYWHERE. The very small kitchenette counters were covered with filth and used dishes – as of course was the sink. And the pièce de résistance to the scene – there wasn’t a table anymore. There was no where to eat this magnificent dinner that I slaved over for two days. Plus my table flipping Plan B is now right out.
My parents don’t say anything. They put the bags down by the garbage – the only clean spot in the room – and start cleaning. My brother walks around, not acknowledging the filth at all – or the cleaning – and instead starts complaining when he finds that we have forgotten the butter. I mean, we’re only providing the food, plates, cups, silverware, trash bags, napkins, beverages and toilet paper (an addition I made to much derision from BB, only to find that no, not only had he not cleaned the bathroom, he had no toilet paper at all). How could we not think to remember the butter? So while they spend an hour cleaning the kitchenette so we can use it (and subsequently have to reheat all of the now cold food) he goes to the bodega next door for butter and coffee. (Not toilet paper).
When it came time to eat I wasn’t sure what to do. I was too busy being silently bullshit and staring at my stolen elliptical machine that he uncovered from under a pile of trash and dirty laundry to use as a coat rack when we first came in. Apparently we were supposed to eat standing around his sick wife’s bed. Seriously. Frankly, I couldn’t really eat anything, I was disgusted. I stood with a plate by the gigantic television and spent most of that time chasing the cat who “doesn’t go on the counters” off the counters and away from the food. BB ate with the wife in the bedroom, but my Mum, I have say, ate with me. The second we were done we packed up to leave; we couldn’t get out of there fast enough. But my brother couldn’t be bothered to help clean up or put anything away. So, again, it was up to us. I didn’t care. At this point I was just trying to get the hell out of there, while my mother was obsessing over her soiled Pyrex. (“Dammit Ma, we can wash them at home!”)
When I left I took the toilet paper.
Finally we were off to the ancestral home to have dessert with my grandparents. I love my grandparents, but in recent years going to their house is painful. My aunt and her kids live on the first floor of their house. But recently, my cousin, angry that my grandparents and her parents refused to let her and her boyfriend move into the third floor bedrooms and build them an apartment up there, got pregnant. On purpose. So now she and her boyfriend and her baby live on the third floor – formerly my grandparents’ bedroom. There is talk of making it a separate apartment. Fancy that.
My cousin, as you can see, is a monster. She has been her whole life. This comes of never ever being told ‘no’. When she was a child I refused to babysit her again after I told her she couldn’t do something and she had an unbelievable tantrum. Neighbors called. Glass was smashed. I think it was the first time anyone had ever failed to give her or let her do what she wanted.
Her baby just turned one and is becoming just like her – which is what happens when you have your 90+ year old grandparents raise your baby because, even though you have no job and don’t go to school or leave the house, you can’t be bothered. It’s like a cycle of monsters. My grandparents are just the most wonderful people, and it sickens me to see my cousins take advantage of them like that. They don’t care if their actions hurt people, or that they are killing my grandparents. And I mean, they are literally killing them. Adult Protective Services are threatening to take my grandfather away. It’s that bad.
So while dessert should have been fun and homey, it was awkward and uncomfortable: The baby having tantrums every five seconds when she was told she couldn’t smash the stereo, knock over hot coffee or hit my grandmother; my cousin just sitting there, screwing around on her new iPhone. It’s so hard going there now. That place used to be a respite from home, a comforting place. Now whenever I’m there my stomach hurts and later I have weird dreams. It’s messed up.
When I got home I was so glad it was over. Mum was tired but pleased, acting like it was some great success. I told her we were never doing that again. If she expected me to come to Thanksgiving again, let alone make the dinner, she had better come up with an alternate plan. If she couldn’t she could forget about Christmas, too. I also told her that I wanted my exercise machine back, and would break into his apartment with some thugs to get it. (Yes, I have thug access. Fear me). She got silent and angry, but whatever. She knows it was a disaster, and she knows she can’t handle the holidays without me.
So I hope you read this story and realized that, no matter how stupid your holiday may have been, at least it wasn’t nearly as shetty as mine. And frankly, I was holding back, as I didn’t mention the fact that we shopped last minute (thanks to Mum’s neuroses), the snake, how lost I feel in my old neighborhoods, the sinking house or any of the other crap. I didn’t want any of you to kill yourselves.
Thanksgiving doesn’t just have to be bad, though. I can often look at it as the start of the ‘holiday season’ which can often be a good thing. For me this means parties and visiting friends and family whom I love but only really get to see this time of year. (It also means the Cookiepocalypse, which will get its own magical post, and is guaranteed to blow your minds). The first party of the season, I’m glad to say, went down the Sunday after Thanksgiving and has restored my faith in humanity. It was thrown by my extended family, you know, the ‘guaranteed fun’ people. It was a milestone birthday for a cousin who turned 50. He has eight brothers and sisters – all but one in attendance – with their kids and a few of us cousins and aunts for garnish. The house was completely decked out in balloons, streamers and bad over-the-hill jokes, full of food and laughter.
While for most people these cousins would be too far removed in relation to know or at least to know very well, I was raised to see them like aunts and uncles. I baby sat or was actually nanny to many of their kids and grandkids, and I often feel more comfortable with them then I do with my own immediate family. So when I got there I was instantly pounced upon by three of them: sisters, 14 and 9, who I was nanny for in college (I probably spent more time at their house than my own in those days), and their 12 year old cousin, who I babysat. They jumped all over me (as per usual) and we talked and laughed and had a blast.
The sisters were talking about how their dad only gets ‘three days a year’. “Three days for what?” I asked, to which the 9 year old – looking at me as if I were an idiot – responded “To shine.” I thought that was sad, that he only gets three out of 365. So I made an agreement with their mom, promising that if I ever played a lottery and subsequently won, I would pay her many millions in order to procure him a fourth day. To shine.
Conversation came around to the topic of school and the 14 year old complained about how her school’s Asian Club won’t leave her alone. They are so annoyingly persistent that she refuses to join. Instead she joined the Jewish Club. “But you’re not Jewish.” “Yeah, but they have better candy.”
Then the 12 year old says that we should form our own family Asian Club, as we practically are one anyway (the 9 year old was adopted from China, her sister and cousin are both from Korea). So it is agreed. We would be the LAC. It is also agreed that Thunderball is a member too, even though she wasn’t there. I tried to point out that neither Thunderball nor myself were Asian, nor did we share their last name (the L), but they pointed out that it didn’t matter. “You’re practically Asian.” (Apparently it’s an awesomeness that can rub off.)
So we began our club plans, which were basically a discussion about candy which turned into a discussion on what kind of candy which somehow turned into them agreeing that Thunderball and I will make the candy, and they will help. Which I took to meaning that one of them will lose an eye, as I stressed to them how very similar to napalm melted sugar was. That just garnered responses of “what’s napalm?”
At that point the 9 year old was lying across me with an arm over her head but in my face. I asked if the LAC will come with me when I run away to Japan, to which she flew up (further into my face) shouting “I’ll go to Japan!”
“You want to go to Japan?”
“Yes, because they don’t have math in Japan!”
“What? Yes they do –”
“Even if they do have math it’s in a different language and I won’t be able to understand it so I will never have to do math if I’m in Japan!”
“Math is sort of universal. They do have the western version of math in Japan.”
“I love Japan because there’s no math! I HATE MATH!”
So now I’m deaf in one ear, and apparently going to Japan, as it is completely devoid of math. This, I suppose is as good a reason as any to go to Japan. Plus, it’s just a hop skip over to Korea, and that’s something. Hopefully we’ll all survive Candy Armageddon in tact enough to make such plans. I’ll keep you informed.