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Feast or famine

Alison Berkley

“Why the hell should I have to slave over a hot oven all day? It’s my holiday, too,” my mom will say, putting her feet up just to make a point of how “relaxed” she is.It’s the same song and dance every year. We get up early, drive to the local caterer’s and pick up several oversized tins filled with gourmet helpings of stuffing, fresh-herb-and-veggie this, potato that and string bean something-or-other and load it into the back of my mom’s car. Then we’re off to the bakery for a few of those “homemade” pies and the liquor store for enough bottles of wine to make sure no one remembers if my mom cooked the meal or not.Whenever someone looks at me with horror in their eyes when I tell them we have Thanksgiving dinner catered, I’m like, “Whatever. It’s not like we have people come over who serve it to us in little maid outfits. We pick it all up ourselves, bring it home and heat it up in our very own oven. All that back and forth to unload everything – it’s actually a lot of work.”And every year everyone has to make a big joke of it, saying things like, “You’ve outdone yourself once again, Lindarose!” or “This is delicious. Whatever is your secret?”I should be happy my parents do Thanksgiving at all, since they’re such big anti-traditionites. They are like the most unsentimental people on the planet, who could care less about upholding any kind of tradition around the holidays. They brush off most holidays with the same excuse: “Honey, we really could give a flying f–k. The only reason we do it is for you, because we know it makes you happy. Otherwise, it’s just a big pain in the ass.” (Notice the oh-so-subtle guilt trip and the casual use of foul language).But Thanksgiving is different. They just looooove Thanksgiving. I’m pretty sure it has to do with the fact that this is the one holiday you can enjoy without having any religious affiliation whatsoever (unless you’ve got your panties in a bunch about Columbus being a murderer and an a–hole). It has everything to do with eating, which has always been my family’s favorite thing to do. It’s always “What do you want to do for lunch?” as soon as we wake up and “Where should we go out for dinner” as soon as lunch is over. We may not have any alcoholics or drug addicts in my family, but we sure do have a bunch of pigs who would become fat as houses were it not for our shared prowess for outdoor sports.My brother and I always joke about it. We call each other these cute little nicknames like “Fat Man” and “Lard Ass,” except I’m just kidding and sometimes I’m paranoid that he really means it.Anyhoo, the eating thing is huge, and we don’t skimp when it comes to making sure there’s enough food to feed, well, my brother for starters. He has the biggest appetite on the planet and usually makes a point of challenging every waiter to that effect. “Bring it on,” he’ll say. “We’ll just have to see if your portions are substantial enough to feed this Big Boy.” He’s actually gotten a lot of free food that way since the waiter thinks it’s fun to rise to the challenge and bring him more food just to see if he’ll actually finish it.The good thing is I don’t really have to worry about eating too much because my psychotic father and I always go for an extra long run before Turkey Day dinner so we can feel like we “earned it.”Keep in mind that a “normal” distance is always at least twice as long as he says it’s going to be. He’ll let me think we’re near the end and then he’ll throw in the old, “OK, we can turn around up here.” And I’m going, “I thought you said this was a loop. This is an out-and-back?”The other thing he loves to do is pace me out slow at first and then slowly increase our speed so I’m not really aware of it until like mile 12 when my heart rate is like 285 and I can’t get it to go down. “What … are … we … pacing … at?” I ask, but it’s hard to get the words out because I’m breathing so hard. When we get home two hours later, I’m a crippled wreck who has to hobble around the house for the next three days. My mom always yells at my dad. “Why do you have to torture our daughter like that? Why can’t you just be nice to her?” And then I feel like a total idiot because my dad is like, old, and should not be able to kick my ass as hard as he does.Now that my parents “retired” and live in Steamboat, I get to enjoy the Thanksgiving festivities with all of their retired/psycho outdoor athlete friends from the local chapter of the Over The Hill Gang.Don’t get me wrong, I love sitting around all the livelong day listening to a bunch of people who are supposed to be Senior Citizens rattle on about the titanium cranks on their mountain bikes and how so-and-so hit 52 miles an hour coming down Rabbit Ears Pass on his road bike and the upcoming snowboarding season (No kidding. They actually snowboard).All of a sudden I feel like I’m the parent and they’re the kids, and I catch myself saying things like, “I think you’re overdoing it,” and “Be careful!” and “Don’t forget to wear your helmet. I don’t care if there are airbags in your Lexus, I said even in the car!”I’m just thankful I don’t have to do the cooking.The Princess dyed her hair dark brown and is feeling very incognito. Send your loving e-mail to alison@berkleymedia.com.


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