Thursday, February 22, 2007

proud to be an "american": thanksgiving through the ages

cue the 'sandra bullock in pj's and holey socks eating a microwave meal with her cat' scene. well, tracky bums and a t-shirt, and i really must chuck these socks out as my big toe is actually poking through. damnit. i even had thai takeaway for lunch and am debating a bowl of cereal for supper. i went to work today. the last thursday in november is not "my" holiday, it's more like a "foster holiday", as with many things i haven't comitted to yet. christmas is my "biological" holiday.

when i first moved to the states i wasn't prepared for how "american" this holiday was (duh, the white man, indians, a bloody slaughter and boat loads of food). people make more of an effort to travel and reunite to play out long standing family dramas while chomping down on vegetables cooked in marshmallows than they do for stockings and trees. the tradition i enjoy the most is that no one is left out. every year i have had to turn down invitations. this year i was invited to a beverly hills style feast, in addition to the ones from my peeps back in the 'ville and beyond.

my first introduction to pilgrims, parades and potatoes was in balmy boca raton with my jewish roomate, her grannies, grandpas, cousins and any other person over the age of 70 that could pinch my cheek and ask if i'd had enough to eat. "oh, you're in graduate school? how nice. oh, you have a jewish boyfriend? how nice. oh, he manages a bank? how wonderful!" the following year i spent thanksgiving with the jewish banker and his parents at his 'brother-in-culinary-school's' place in boston. however 'b-i-c-s' went to missouri for thanksgiving. the four of us tooled around boston exclaiming at the starbucks/dunkin donuts every 20 centimetres, while the dad exclaimed with trainspotter-like fervour at every marriot hotel we happened upon, which would then lead to a comparison with other marriots he had stayed in around the country. this thanksgiving was my first introduction to cranberry "sauce". my mum makes cranberry sauce at xmas; fresh cranberries chucked in a saucepan with sugar and a bit of water and wait for them to pop. this cranberry sauce sat upright in a dish, and was even can shaped down to the little ridges and dents. it jiggled. i couldn't. i didn't.

the following year i was adopted into another family and learned the difference between "dressing" (salad) and "dressing" (stuffing), you cannot pour "dressing" (stuffing) on your turkey (or your salad), (or your turkey salad for that matter). this was the first year i got to experience the places men never go the day after thanksgiving. this must be why god invented football. i hate football and i like shopping, i do not like shopping on this particular friday. forward to the next year (same adoptive family) and i heard a rendition of "i'm proud to be an american" by a 6 year old that i had never heard the likes of before. awesome. the thanksgiving after that was unforgettable because it started with an early morning emergency trip to the vet with a very sick kitty who was even more perturbed by being in a moving vehicle. several hours later, two rather tired, hungry and grumpy individuals arrived in birmingham, al. good people, good grub, a couple of awkward moments involving some tears and gratitude that W was re-elected during the the giving thanks portion. that year the oestrogen-fest of shopping was exchanged for a testosterone filled mountain bike ride. unfortunately by the end of it i was giving the younger members of the family a run for their tantrumming money as i was cold, wet, tired, mud splattered, hungry and very, very grumpy. ahhh, the holiday weekend was complete!

last year was a smaller affair where one family member unforgettably took a bite of food and announced to the hostess: "this shit aint fit enough to eat". this was followed by a wink and smile and she promptly fell about the place laughing. this year i worked at the hospital where i was planning for a nice, easy day. we were at low census, i only had 3 groups scheduled and therefore three boxes of xmas cards at time-and-a-half rates to get through. apparently the thought of family get togethers for those that had, and not having family to bicker with for those that hadn't, created a mad rush of admits. the ICU was bursting at the seams with patients detoxing, weeping, talking to their spirit guides/elvis and picking at the fresh bandages on their wrists. quite often the ICU group can be pretty quiet (if there are no actively manic bipolars on the unit) as this population are in their heads while waiting for the meds to kick in. how appropo that today there was a lot of conversation and support; that no matter how desperate, hopeless and alone they felt yesterday, they were grateful to be alive and colouring with a group of other wounded strangers today. if i thought about it hard enough i could probably squeeze out a few pity party tears for my own turkey/adoptive family-free day today, but i have other things, like hot chocolate, to put the "it's because i'm PMS-ing" excuse to use.

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