Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'm Thankful For ...

Today's Mom's birthday, and I'm about to head over to my parents' house for the birthday and the holiday. Think good thoughts that my car will actually get me there. We tend to have low-key holidays, and it's just the three of us since my brother lives in Chicago and is smart enough not to brave the holiday air travel chaos. I would say that my family is one of the things I'm most thankful for. We're a unique bunch, and we know how to have our own brand of fun.

I seem to notice the quirks of my family more when there are other people present. One of my more memorable Thanksgivings was one year when we were in Germany and my dad invited over a couple of young soldiers who were on their own in a foreign country. I thought it was cool because I suddenly got two big brothers, and those guys fit in pretty well with us. Because the Macy's parade came on in the afternoon, thanks to the time difference, the earlier parts of the day were filled with broadcasts of any and all holiday-themed specials. Yeah, we got the classic Snoopy-making-popcorn Peanuts special, but have you ever seen the B.C. (as in the newspaper comic strip) special? That's the only time I've ever seen it, but we still quote it as a family joke. That year, for the rest of the day we were repeating jokes from it. I think that was the same year that Santa's pants fell down right as he was entering Macy's, so there were a lot of jokes about that, too.

One year when I was right out of college, I invited the guy I was dating at the time home with me (though it was more about him being alone for the holiday than about me bringing him to meet the folks). Of course, when you want things to go well, it's least likely to. I was making some brown-and-serve bread, and there must have been an air bubble in it because the bread came out looking like it had a tumor. There wasn't any way to salvage it to make it presentable, and just the sight of it set off a giggle fit and a lot of jokes about the bread with the tumor. Hmm, that guy dumped me not long afterward. Maybe he couldn't take it.

Then there was the year my brother brought a girlfriend home. I was in the middle of researching a book with a medieval setting, and I was reading a book on medieval foods and banquets for research. While my mom made her famous shrimp creole on Wednesday afternoon, I entertained us by doing dramatic readings of some of the recipes, which were pretty freaky (that four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie wasn't just a nursery rhyme). When my brother and his girlfriend got there and I went to help my mom get dinner on the table, the girlfriend picked up the book and was flipping through it. She later came over to me, looking a little pale, and said, "Um, so I was looking at that book you had open ..." Without missing a beat, my mom said, "Oh, yes, those are our traditional family Thanksgiving recipes."

That same year, I made the mistake of trying to go fancy for company. There's a frozen fruit salad my brother loves. Normally, we make it, freeze it and serve it in a Tupperware bowl, but I got the bright idea of making it in my mom's jello mold. This mold is kind of in the shape of a bowl of grapes. The salad unmolded beautifully, but there was one minor problem. The salad involves cranberry sauce in Cool Whip, so it's pink, and it has lots of chunks of fruit and nuts. Coming out of a grape mold, it just looked like a brain. There was no way to serve it looking like that. It was hideous. So, my solution was to cut it into pieces and put it in a nice bowl. It set off yet another giggle fit between my mom and me to be in the kitchen on Thanksgiving, hacking a brain into pieces like a couple of mad scientists.

One of our more recent traditions is the Frankenturkey. Since there are just three of us, and we aren't wildly crazy about turkey, we now just get a turkey breast and a couple of legs. Of course, we have to serve them arranged on a platter as though they actually came together in some kind of pieced together bird consisting just of the parts we want. Cries of "It's aliiiiiiive!" are optional.

One of our primary plans for the week is watching my dad watch the Doctor Who episode "Blink," since he was out of town when it came on and I now have the DVDs. I'm sure we'll get hours of amusing inside jokes out of that. And I found my tape of the infamous turkeys episode of WKRP for more holiday-themed humor.

So, you see, I come by my quirky sense of humor honestly. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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