We enjoy visiting my daughter and her family in Maryland at Thanksgiving even if arthritis in my ankles has gotten to the point where I have to use a wheelchair to get through Reagan airport in Washington. We rent a car there and drive to Rockville, MD for a great time.
My daughter Johanna is a planner. That means there’s plenty to do and see in addition to my granddaughters, Freya and Beatrice.
We enjoyed seeing the winter lights at nearby Gaithersburg and a production at the great old Weinberg theater in Frederick. The theater’s been around since 1926 and has, I think, the oldest theater organ in the country that’s still in its original location. I’d like to hear that old Wurlitzer sometime.
Johanna’s husband Kevin could give Chef Ramsay a run for this money. This means a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.
The trip home was another matter. The storm system that has brought tornados to the southeast brought us a bumpy flight into Chattanooga and one hell of a rainy drive from there to our home in Rome, GA. Our cats were glad to see us after they got tired of being a bit spooky. (They hate thunder.)
It’s hard to keep up with my granddaughters from so far away. Thanksgiving helps us see them in their natural habitat. They are polite and well-behaved, a departure from some of the kids we saw on the trip up and back.
So now we are home. Exhausted, of course. But with good feelings for our kin.
When mother served us something for dinner we didn’t like and scarcely touched, he always said there are people in country X who don’t have any food at all. I wasn’t sure how cleaning up my plate would help those people, so after years of hearing her pronouncement I said, “Let’s just mail it to them.” That comment didn’t go well.
Other than those days when mother got into the locoweed and served something strange, she was a great cook 24/7/365. Even though she managed meals on a tight budget, we always had plenty to eat. The older I got, the more I realized that more people than not didn’t have plenty to eat. It made me think we should be thankful for what we had.
If one feels thankful, that feeling changes his/her life. Gone are the feelings of entitlement of rich vs. poor, our country vs. a third-world country, or working people vs. those who don’t work. I don’t think many of us can imagine what it’s like to walk in another person’s shoes, much less find the empathy needed to truly understand those who don’t have what we have–so to speak.
Feeling thankful for what we have and how we live and how our friends and family are there for us doesn’t mandate our giving all of our money to worthy causes. I’ve written posts in the past about the fact many worthy causes suggest only $25 will help, but fail to consider that they are one of 50 charities that have approached us with the same rationale. I like Kiva because it lends money to people who are trying to help themselves. My donation by itself seems rather paltry but paired with hundreds of others, I believe it makes a difference.
I’m thankful for Kiva and the other groups who help those who need help. It gives us a way to reach out to thousands of people. Our lives are not perfect, but there is still much to be thankful for even though all of us meet up with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune as a matter of course: as part of life itself. I’m sitting here typing this post in a warm office with dinner in the oven. If I weren’t thankful already, I could start with that.
Every year, like an annual checkup with a proctologist, the dwindling Falls family made a pilgrimage to its ancestral home, Fallaway, illegally located on a remote limestone rock outcropping at Pedernales Falls State Park in the Texas hill country. Constructed by chain gang labor out of haunted stone stolen from Enchanted Rock, the old mansion–where Manderley’s Mrs. Danvers first worked as a maid–was built by Falls patriarch Ash for his Bride Snow from an ample fortune funded by a misbegotten conglomerate of saloons, houses of sin, and corner-cutting mortuaries. Granny Falls, daughter of Snow, presides over the gloomy mansion where, even in the innocent sunshine of high noon, the plaintive cries of ghosts and badly evolved creatures inhabiting Deadfalls Cemetery in the kitchen garden are louder and more persistent than the voice of water at Pedernales Falls.
This year, like every other year, Trick, his sister Niagara, and his brother Pratt made the long trek from the four corners of the known world to grandmother’s house.
After the graceless chorus of amens that followed Granny’s prayer (God is Great, God is Good; Let us thank Him for our food. By His hands we all are fed, Save us Lord from our dishonored dead.), the family opened its tired eyes to behold a meal fit primarily for the garbage disposal: twice boiled turkey, cranberry slush, mashed potatoes with deadeye gravy, stuffing knocked out of goodness knows what, wilted greens with squid ink dressing, and Parker House rolls.
Pratt: Every year as we thank the good Lord for the blessings we escaped, I wonder what we have done to deserve this.
Niagara: Our lives would make a chart-topping blues song if anyone in the family knew how to sing.
Trick: You’ve outdone yourself, Granny.
Granny: Last thing I wanted to do was repeat the horrors of last year’s meal, so I made fresh ones.
Pratt: So who’s gotten knocked up since last Thanksgiving?
Niagara: Oh, Pratt, be nice.
Trick: I think I’m pregnant.
Granny: Holy shit.
Trick: Sorry, as an empath, I often blurt out what somebody else is thinking.
Granny: Why’s everyone looking at me? I haven’t been arse over tits since the big M a thousand years ago.
Niagara: Well, this is almost as awkward as last year’s green apple quick step epidemic.
Pratt: I’ll always blame the store bought fried pies for that.
Hooker: I’ll confess, I’m the one with the bun in the oven.
Granny: Who are you with, honey?
Pratt: She’s with me.
Niagara: That figures.
Belle: Pratt took me out of the business to make an honest woman of me.
Granny: He hasn’t succeed yet, that’s clear to me. Are you one of Charon’s daughters over at Johnson City.
Belle: Yes, m’am, I’m one of hell’s belles.
Niagara: Are y’all married yet?
Belle: Pratt’s afraid to ask because when he goes into politics, he can’t have no fallen woman in a closet, worse yet a father in law who purportedly carries folks to the underworld.
Granny: Our family built the underworld before Al Capone was a bun in the oven.
Pratt: She’s talking about Satan’s world.
Granny: Satan’s never getting my into handbasket, I’ll tell you what.
Belle: You’re too much of a gentlemen to ask, Pratt honey, but you’re definitely the father. You remember that time we got lost in that dark wood and said “what the hell?” That’s when it happened.
Pratt: That was you?
Trick: Does anyone else need their moonshine on the rocks topped off?
Niagara: There’s not enough in that Mason jar to make it through the night.
Pratt: Belle, will you marry me?
Granny: What the hell?
Belle: Yes my handsome sweetums darling, I will marry you. Shall we set a date.
Niagara: How about right after desert?
Trick: Granny is an ordained minister from the Church of What’s Happening Now.
Granny: My diploma was right there on the wall before it fell behind the buffet during the hash slinging fight on Thanksgiving of ought six.
Niagara: That doesn’t nullify Granny’s powers, does it Trick.
Trick: Absolutely not.
Pratt: Well then, Niagara, pass the desert.
Granny: If you ask me, Pratt, you’ve have your just deserts coming for many years of many dark woods.
Pratt: I was rather hoping you’d start your pitch with “dearly beloved.”
Belle: Oh, Pratt, you’re gonna make me cry.
Pratt: Been there, done that.
Niagara: Granny, you got any more jars of this shine?
Granny: Out on the stoop.
Trick: Pratt, when your sister comes back, I think it’s only fitting to ask her to be maid of honor.
Pratt: Spinster maid of honor’s more like it. Okay, okay, don’t look at me like that. I’ll ask her if you’ll agree to be best man.
Trick: Might as well, can’t dance, fields are to wet to plough.
Niagara: Was ya’ll talking about me while I fought through all the spider webs out back to get to the booze?
Granny: Drink up, you’re the maid of honor. Pratt, y’all will have to get married in the kitchen since it’s the only room that presentable.
Pratt: I thought you’d make us stand by the hitching post out front.
Granny: Not with all that thunder and lightning out there.
Belle: Oh, don’t worry about none of that. Daddy’s just having a bit of fun.
Niagara: Pass the devil’s food cake so we can get this show on the road and return to our lives.
Trick: Belle and Pratt, you’re starting off on a grand adventure. How fitting it is that it begins on Thanksgiving. I wish you much happiness, but always remember that no matter what weird stuff happens, you can kiss, make up, and say, “We’ll always have Pedernales.”
Granny: I never thought I’d live long enough to hear anybody say that.
Pratt: We usually say it when we’re drunk.
Narrator: And so the deed was done. . .
Niagara: I didn’t know we had a narrator.
Granny: Just one of the haints from underneath the rosemary.
Narrator: As I was saying, an so the deed was done, Belle and Pratt were married with a minimum of discouraging words next to Granny Falls cook stove that–according to all involved–wasn’t nearly as hot as Belle in her Victoria’s Secret wedding down, and finally just after the flour canister tipped over in front of the oscillating fan, creating a virtual whiteout, Granny pronounced the two love birds husband and wife which led Mr. and Mrs. Pratt falls to kiss so enthusiastically, everyone else felt moved to leave the room and sip apple pie moonshine on the front porch where the rain came down like there would be no tomorrow.