A tale of a Thanksgiving roughly eight years ago:
My sister got married in 2000 and with that my mom and I stopped going down to Louisiana for some strange reason. It does not actually make much sense but not much in my family does. Two years later, my parents and I went to Dallas to spend Thanksgiving with my Aunt Kea and her crew. This provided me with three distinct Thanksgiving memories.
First let me explain something about my Aunt Kea: she is a modern saint. She is beautiful, kind, giving, and a terrific mother. She is the aunt that never judged me. She would question my choices but never with criticism and always made me feel good about being a little weirdo. None of this is actually important to the Thanksgiving story, I just wanted to talk about how awesome Aunt Kea is. Though if it helps the story, she has two sons, Glen Roy and Foster, who were both pretty young at this time. Foster had the cutest pumpkin head and smile I have ever seen. So, during the rest of the story picture a small child with a beaming smile and huge round head running around or sitting at the table, as appropriate.
Back to the three memories:
The first thing happened while Mom and I were out in the back yard smoking and the kids were running around. (Imagine a little pumpkin headed child running in circles squealing in delight, the thought makes me smile.) My Aunt stepped outside and handed my mom the phone because my sister was on the phone and wanted to talk to her. After a few minutes, my mom makes a happy squeaky sound and she walks inside to announce to everyone that Ellana is pregnant. Ellana was worried because she did not get to tell us in person but Mom was just so happy she didn’t care. (The thing we would find out later is that Ellana was pregnant with her own round-headed little boy. Apparently, pumpkin heads run in my mom’s family along with fiery spirited little girls.)
Now for the second memory. We were all sitting around the table after saying grace and my mom announced she would like it if we would go around and tell what we are thankful for. She starts out with being thankful for the impending grandchild. My aunt and uncle go next and say something about family and health, the standard stuff. My two adorable cousins said something cute and precious. Next comes my dad and he is the one that stops the table.
He says he is thankful to be alive because he had been set to die the day after Thanksgiving but he was rescued on Thanksgiving. This is why until this particular post I haven’t talked about my father on Thanksgiving because it has always been a strange holiday for him. This is the only time in my memory that he ever went us on a Thanksgiving trip. We always knew to expect him to be a bit recalcitrant and strange around the holiday and it was only when I was older did I truly understand why. Imagine watching everyone go about the normal business of a holiday when all you can think about is that on that day many years before you were a dead man and were suddenly saved. I wouldn’t think it would be conducive to normal human interactions.
Anyway, everyone at the table got quiet and looked at each other. It wasn’t embarrassment really, just an astounding lack of anything to say. Somehow “well we certainly are glad that firing squad didn’t get ya” doesn’t seem appropriate. The thing I love about it, though, was that my dad didn’t care that everyone was flummoxed, he was just stating a fact. I think it was brave. My mom refers to it as “the Thanksgiving that your dad embarrassed everyone” but I really think everyone was just surprised by his honesty and were made to think. I don’t even remember what I said. I mean how do you follow a new baby, two adorable kids, and a rescue from the jaws of death? You don’t you mumble something and look at the food.
Third memory is a life lesson:
Unsalted butter does not make as good of mashed potatoes as salted butter.