Search This Blog

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Birthday Suppositories and other things to be thankful for: a Personal History of Thanksgiving.

Okay, so I make shake my rattle at the world quite a bit, but there are many things I am thankful for - one thing in particular being my friendships. I cherish my friends, and the many ways that they enrich my life. For instance, for many years now, I have either been unable to go home for Thanksgiving, or I just didn’t feel like putting up the stress that comes with family functions. Thanksgiving had never been huge in my family. The tradition always seemed to change. We were either visiting mom’s relations in Virginia, or we were with my brother in South Carolina, or we made reservations at a restaurant so no one had to cook. I preferred the last option. Everyone seemed happier that year. This was probably because no one was left in the kitchen doing dishes while everyone else napped in an adjacent room. No one stripped completely naked and plopped unwanted food on another person’s plate (my niece was 3 when her she decided to “Eat Thanksgiving Neck-ed!” and plop half-chewed green beans into the middle of my mashed-potatoes). Or (and more probably) because my brother felt less obligated to rummage through his turkey and dressing on a quest to discover if mom had accidentally let a hair fall from her head whilst cooking for 6+ hours for his ungrateful ass.

My absence from family Thanksgiving started during my first year of graduate school when I spent Turkey Day with my friend Kitty at her family’s home in Kalamazoo, MI. I noticed a normal family that didn’t seem Hell-bent on silently (and not-so-silently) judging every choice made by the others at the dinner table. Nor, did they stare at each other in uncomfortable silence while select members of the family slowly dissected their food for fallen follicles. It was a pleasurable day!

The following year, I traveled with another friend, Tina, to her family’s home in Flint, MI. I had been invited, along with Tina’s fiancĂ©, to share in their family’s traditions. Her family reminded me a lot of mine used to be – with how close they were. There was some family drama (all family’s have it) that I wasn’t privy to, but unlike my family – they actually remained rather pleasant during the Holiday. No one stormed off to their bedrooms and angrily hid because of an actual or perceived slight against their person. This was a welcome change, and the food was fantastic!

My final year of grad school held probably my most unique Thanksgiving. A bunch of us that were too far from home crashed a friend’s apartment with a potluck. The food was divine, (especially Kitty’s beer bread!), and we made a family out of a group of rag-tag waifs. We watched movies and played Life. We ran out of Life tiles, so I began stealing board pieces for cash; it was awesome.

The following year, my dark year, I spent Thanksgiving rather alone. I may have gone to a friend’s house, but honestly, I’ve blocked it out. I don’t remember much, except that I made the mistake of going Black Friday shopping. In Jackson, MS, I had very little to be thankful for…
The following year held what I had hoped would become a permanent tradition. I traveled to San Diego, and Cara and I spent the Holiday visiting Balboa Park, going to the zoo, and eating Butternut Squash Bisque (and Turkey, but seriously the bisque was to die for) at Terra. This may have been my favorite Thanksgiving. I was liberated from my life for just a little while, taken completely across the country, and allowed to have a wonderful time with someone I cherish dearly.

This year, I was unfortunately too poor to travel to San Diego, and since my father passed away I can’t seem to summon the strength to go to SC for Thanksgiving. My brother and my mom have separate parties now, and there is just too much drama. It’s tough enough at Christmas when my brother reluctantly agrees to visit with me, because of some perceived obligation. He can only stand so much of my company, however, so he invites his friends over to shield him from too much direct contact. I often wonder how I became the black sheep of the family, but he does the same stuff to one of my nieces as well, so I don’t dwell on it too much. It’s his loss, honestly; I don’t need another toolbox in my life.

Anyway, this year I had decided to go bike riding and skip Thanksgiving all together. I had decided that, but then my boss, Kevin, asked me to his house when he found out my plans. I think he didn’t want me to be alone, and that was very nice of him. It was just him, his wife, and their two sons (one an older teen – the other one just only recently a teenager). They purchased their dinner from Publix (because no one wanted to spend hours cooking in the kitchen either). The dinner was excellent, and the conversation casual, not forced, always sincere. They are a remarkably close and happy family, very open and warm.

At one point, however, we began discussing King Cakes, a Mardi Gras tradition where you bake a tiny baby Jesus inside a sloppy looking cake. Then everyone eats very slowly, because you don’t want to swallow Jesus (at least when He’s not in grape juice, alcohol, or cracker form). The person who finds said baby becomes King for the day! But to quote Spiderman: “with great power comes great responsibility,” so the King must also provide the cake for the following year’s celebration.

It came up that you can also purchase King Cakes from Publix. (Have I mentioned how much I love Publix?) But, I pointed out, that with pre-made King Cakes, the baby Jesus comes separate, not pre-baked inside, and must be inserted into the cake - to which Kevin announced: “like a suppository!” So there you go folks, baby Jesus now comes in suppository form. This truly gives a whole new meaning to “the power of Christ compels you!” The real scandal, however, came when Kevin’s 13 year old did not know what a suppository was. He quickly guessed, and then announced that he wanted one for his birthday (the joys of being 13, potty humor still kills).

After dinner, we talked for a long time about a variety of topics, and ate dessert (to thank them for having me over, I baked a chocolate cream pound cake from scratch). They also had apple/cherry cobbler. It was good.

On Black Friday, I completed my Thanksgiving festivities by taking that bike ride. I rode between 28-29 miles yesterday on the Chief Ladiga and Silver Comet Trails on the Alabama / Georgia border. I started my journey in Piedmont, AL rode a mile into Georgia and then rode back. Both trails used to be old unused railroad lines, but now they serve nature and bike enthusiasts from all over the country. I thought about my Dad as I rode, and felt at many times like he was riding with me. I could go on and on about the trip, but instead I’ll let the photos speak for themselves (with a few captions, because I can't help myself). I think if the San Diego thing doesn’t pan out, a Turkey Day bike ride could be my new tradition.
All that was left of this home was the chimney!

The farms - nestled at the feet of the mountains - were very picturesque. If Alabama were the home of Hansel and Gretel, this (I'm positive) would be the Gingerbread House. It was creepy beyond words. Entering the mountain! I tried to get pictures from inside the mountain - where the rock faces surround you, but they couldn't truly capture the moment. This one - with rocks only on one side - was the best I could do.
At the Georgia Border!I didn't expect the scenery to change that much after entering Georgia, but it did. The forest and brush became thicker, the terrain surrounding the path - flatter. I preferred Alabama. Wildflowers back in Alabama!One of the back streets of Piedmont. The Eubanks Welcome Center and Trail Head in Piedmont.

No comments:

Post a Comment