Thanksgiving is a time of gathering with the ones you love around a table filled with food. In movies, the scene is always set up with the male figure of the family standing at the head of the table carving up the turkey, while the rest of the family smiles on, dressed in their best.
But that’s an idea that has been programmed into our minds since we were kids. Families don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving like that anymore. Most kids I knew growing up pretty much had some similar type of setup as the stereotypical image, but minus the crisp “Sunday’s best” clothes, and I’m hoping none of them looked on with admiration while their dads cut the turkey. Then that’d be weird.
In my family, Thanksgiving is a time of music, long conversation and plate after plate of food. Sound good? Perhaps I should elaborate. When I say music I’m talking about an array of instruments being brought into the house. I’m talking multiple guitars (acoustic and electric), basses, some drums, and one year an antique violin found its way in. Luckily, the last few years have been top notch solely because the microphones and recording equipment disappeared from the mix.
And this Partridge family starter kit is brought to us by my Uncle Tom. As soon as my sister and I hear that Tom is coming, the Jaws theme appears out of nowhere in the back of our minds.
Most people hear me gripe about this and exclaim, “I wish my family was like that! That’s so cool!” No. No, it’s not. Those people are imagining a rock band being set up in the house where we then rock out to our own awesome renditions of Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” or Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” Now that would be cool.
The music serenading us for hours at a time is improvisations that sound like something the von Trapp family would make up if they lived in the ‘60s and were desperately trying to get on the Bob Dylan lyric train. Sometimes it switches and sounds like the soundtrack to a film filled with crazy hillbillies. It’s basically the music you’d hear just before the characters find out the hillbillies are cannibals. My sister and I sit angrily on the couch since we’re not allowed to retreat to a deeper haven in the house, which really doesn’t matter since the music always ends up echoing louder. It always finds us.
“Uncle Tom’s music corner” ends up having to take a break once the food is ready. Eating the food is much like when a person takes a trip to the mall: At first it seems like such a fun idea, and looking at the windows full of clothes makes you warm and fuzzy, almost as if you’re connected to an IV bag that drips heroin into your veins. Then you realize you can’t afford any of the clothes, and there’s no way your ass could maneuver itself into those awesome jeans. You leave the mall feeling defeated, poor and fat. That’s exactly what happens with the food.
My aunt would fill the table with the most delicious spread of cranberry sauce, different types of stuffings filled with sausage and warm apples, flaky biscuits and the turkey, but no one really gives a crap about the turkey, right? It’s really only invited to the table each year for the turkey sandwiches that follow the next week. And I never forget to dig into the green bean casserole. Who knew a bunch of crap from a can could taste so good? When it comes to my casserole, I’m willing to look like a redneck named Billy Bob.
By the time I finish all that, plus my sampling of the homemade apple pie, pumpkin pie, cheesecake brownies and cookies that still taste like the dough, I’m literally rolling out the door like the chick from the Wonka factory. There have been a couple car rides home that consisted of me unzipping my pants to relieve my gut. Allegedly.
This year should yield the same, depending on who’s making the trip out (cross your fingers Uncle Tom and his instruments have made previous plans). The only difference is that my mom refuses to continue making the popular, drool-inducing sweet potato casserole that glistened with ribbons of melted marshmallows and crumbled with the carmelized pecans and sugar. My mom believes this dish is “too fattening” and seems to be certain that by taking it out of the Thanksgiving menu we won’t eat as badly. I’m calling bullshit. I always find a way to eat my fat ass to death.