Does anyone ever actually have the perfect, Normal Rockwell, Thanksgiving? We all view Thanksgiving differently. To some, it's a chance to come together with dear friends and loved ones, and eat a mighty fine meal. To others, it's a horror movie far scarier than anything Hollywood could dream up. “From the depths of condensed canned soup, and instant mashed potatoes it came! Crawling from a black pool of unspeakable horror! This Thanksgiving, you can run, you can hide, but you can't escape from THE CASSEROLE FROM AUNT VERNA'S KITCHEN! No one will be seated during the shocking stuffing sequence.”
This year, I wasn't hosting. It was worry free Thanksgiving for me. Completely lacking in stress. Stress from having to clean every micro inch of my house. Stress from having to bring forth a meal so amazing, it would make the saints cry. Matter of fact, the morning of Thanksgiving I felt so relaxed, I paraded around my house wearing only my bathrobe, singing “Sex Machine” by James Brown (You're welcome, ladies). It was a beautiful moment, and it horrified the cat.
This is not to say that I wasn't responsible for part of Thanksgiving. I was dutifully charged with making my macaroni and cheese, that has become something of a expected thing at each family gathering, and seems to be the only skill of mine anyone in my family brags about to strangers. We were going to my cousins house, the side of the family that's just a few doors down from being a TLC reality series. It's not quite Honey Boo Boo, and it's not quite Duck Commander.
For someone who is obsessed with food—which I am—Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday. If you're also something of a perfectionist—which I can be, at times—these two things come together beautifully to create one of the most anxiety riddled, and stressful days of your life. You want everything to be perfect. There is no room for error, you've planned for days and months, you've planned in a manner that some football coaches going to the super bowl would call “excessive”. The key to it all, is not breaking down in the middle of the kitchen. No one wants their family to see them in the fettle position, crying out “Why won't the damn bird finish cooking!?”
This was the upside to being a guest, and not a host. I had no schemes, I had no walls covered in post it notes, like some post modern version of A Beautiful Mind. Mac and Cheese was easy, Mac and Cheese I could do in my sleep. The downside to not being host, for me anyway, meant that I had no control over the quality of the rest of the food. This could mean a dead, dry bird. Mashed potatoes that were instant, and pies that looked like they were from LAST Thanksgiving. When I arrived, about an hour or so before eating, I did a glance over of the food. It all looked perfectly fine, and not petrified.
I made my way into the living room to chat and play that “what are you up to now” game with my relatives. There was some excitement towards the meeting of one of my cousin's new bride. Harry had married Susanne during the summer, I wasn't able to make the ceremony. Alongside them at the great day of thanks was her two year old daughter from a previous marriage, Katrina. In general, I get along with kids very well. Babies often smile at me in the supermarket, which is just cute and lovely and makes you feel good about yourself.
Little Katrina, however, was an entirely different story. I reached my hand out to hers when they introduce me to her, instead of taking it, she just looked up at me and forcefully said “No!” Taken a bit aback I just said “OK, then”, and sat down into an easy chair. Even while I was chatting with everyone, little Katrina just kept staring at me. Something was off about this child, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. As we were waiting for the call to feast, I sat quietly in the arm chair playing on my iPad (I love my family, but a man who doesn't get into football has to have a contingency plan).
I was lost in playing Monopoly, but I took a moment and looked up. Sitting on the ottoman was Katrina, staring at me. I said “Hi there!” There was a long pause, and she said “I take you down. Watch your back.” I was a little phased, and wondering where exactly I had crossed over into The Twilight Zone. Right at that moment, and coming out of her own personal Twilight Zone, Aunt Denise showed up. She's always the last one to arrive, and this year she brought a guest. Her obese cat named Swizzle Stick.
It meal itself was actually quite good, we began eating around five. Nothing was bad, and Swizzle Stick was even given a little plate of turkey—that he really didn't need, but not that like that was going to stop him. Even obese, a cat can be VERY determined. We laughed, and told stories of old relatives, ate, and ate, and ate. But every time I looked over at Katrina, she would look at me and run her finger across her neck. When the eating finished, I was stuffed and went into the living room to recover before lifting anything.
I hopped back into the same chair I was in earlier, put my feet up on the ottoman, laid my head back and closed my eyes. After about fifteen minutes or so, I heard this clinking sound. As if a spoon was being tapped on the side of a coffee mug. I opened my eyes, and that's exactly what it was. Little Katrina, walking around the chair, and tapping a coffee mug with a spoon. I didn't know what to make of this, and it didn't help that for a moment she began chanting “One of us! One of us! Goobel Gobble! Goobel Gobble!”
Before this display got too weird, I was called into the kitchen by Aunt Denise to carry a thing or two to the fridge in the basement. I walked into the kitchen, and Swizzle Stick rubbed his head against my leg. He's always liked me, so I reached down and petted him for a moment. You kinda can't help but love the little guy. Loaded with three casseroles in my hands, I carefully made my way down the stairs. As I carefully put the casseroles away in the fridge, I heard a sound. I turned, and saw nothing. Then the moment I closed the door to the fridge, little Katrina was standing right behind it.
“This ends now!” she exclaimed, and then proceeded to attack my leg with a squeaky plastic hammer. A couple of things went through my mind at this particular moment. One, I overdid it on the stuffing. Two, was that stuffing doped up with some type of mind altering drugs? Three, why is this child attacking me? “Why won't you fall down!” she cried out, and that drawed attention. Not from any of the adults, but from Swizzle Stick.
Swizzle Stick came bouncing down the stairs, looked at Katrina, and meowed. The tiny psychotic took off after the jolly fur creature, I went upstairs and generously poured some Bailey's into a cup of coffee. Thanksgiving had come to an end, and I was going home full of turkey, and pondering why I was attacked with a squeaky hammer. As I left, I talked to Katrina's mother about this. She informed me that little Katrina can get a bit fussy if she doesn't have her nap. Fussy indeed. Happy Thanksgiving all, try not to invite attack prone children in.