Some new traditions for a new house
Aspen, CO Colorado
Next Thursday will mark the first time in 34 years that my family won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving at my parents’ house.
OK, that’s not technically true. First, we actually used to spend the holiday at my great aunt Evelyn and uncle Buddy’s home on Long Island years ago. (I’m pretty sure that ended when Evelyn got tired of cooking for 25 people, and my dad got sick of sitting on the Long Island Expressway in bumper-to-bumper traffic for three-quarters of the day, while I whined at him to turn off the football games broadcast on annoyingly fuzzy AM stations.) Second, technically, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving at my parents’ house. It’s just that it’ll be at their new house ” which is, technically, eight-tenths of a mile from their old house. But still …
I thought I had resolved my feelings (denial, rejection, abandonment, loss) about my parents’ move from the house they lived in from the time I was born until this past July. Clearly though, my issues live on.
Regardless, I’ve decided to get into the holiday spirit by bucking up and channeling my negative emotions into something more productive. Instead of sulking, I’m proposing three new traditions for how my family might want to consider celebrating Thanksgiving this year to ensure a smooth transition from the old house to the new house.
My grandpa, Moe, used to like dark turkey meat, but he passed away in 1984. That left me as the sole person at the holiday ” besides my uncle Herbert ” who prefers the dark meat. Fortunately, Herbert is thinner than a twig and fills up after eating half an olive. Plus, he and my aunt, Anita, became winter Florida residents several years ago, leaving me with pretty much no dark meat competition at Thanksgiving.
Unfortunately, that all changed when my sister, Allison, married Kevin in 1997. Kevin likes dark meat. Then, my cousin, Robin, had to go and marry Dave in 2005, and he likes the dark meat, too. (Although he seems to go for the drumsticks, which true dark meat lovers are happy to give away.)
I’m now officially sick of fighting for the dark meat. Kevin and Dave can either wait and see what’s left when I’m done with the bird, or they can pour some gravy on the white meat and comment on its tan quality. Whatever they choose ” doesn’t matter much to me: I have between 24 and 32 years of seniority over them in the family. There will be no sharing. The dark meat is mine. (Besides, as far as I know, I’m still the official family turkey carver, so I can just carefully arrange the best juicy dark meat pieces under some of the innocent looking dry white parts.)
One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions has been waking up on Thursday morning to the smell of the roasting turkey in the oven and the sound of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade coming from the TV in the kitchen.
However, my parents’ new house is so soundproof that I can’t even hear myself snore, let alone anything on the other side of the bedroom door. As for the smell, I’ve only been to the new house once and have zero recollection if scents waft upstairs.
But apparently, both of those traditions are moot anyway. My mom told me this week that my aunt Diane is making the turkey this year.
No offense to Diane, who’s a wonderful cook and an even better person, but if my mom’s not making the turkey, why bother having it at all? Why not declare a new meal theme altogether? Like, say, Italian. My mom worked meatballs onto the Thanksgiving menu about a decade ago. (Admittedly, not the most obvious side dish for a Jewish family celebrating the pilgrims, but it works for us.) So, I say, let’s continue with the Italian theme and serve chicken parmesan. And maybe some sausage and a little antipasti.
And while we’re at it, let’s dump the pies at dessert. As far as I’m concerned, if it’s not chocolate, it’s not worth it. Besides, is there really anyone delusional enough to believe that just because the pie is filled with apple or pumpkin that it’s healthier than, say, a brownie? Please.
Even better ” let’s just order in. My dad always complains there’s too much food anyway. Everyone can order from their favorite restaurant, and then take their leftovers home. Problem solved.
Then there’s the whole clearing the table thing. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been the one consistent table-clearer. Sure, my sister and cousin help, but now, between them, they have, like, a dozen kids, leaving them with the perfect “I-have-to-go-change-the-baby” excuse. But not this year. I’d like someone to clear my plate. The kids at dinner will range in age from 6 months to 8 years old. As far as I’m concerned, though, you’re never too young to begin clearing. So, let’s strap the spoons on the babies’ backs. Give the 5-year-old a Radio Flyer wagon to wheel the glasses over to the dishwasher. The 7- and 8-year-olds can polish the silver.
However the kids want to divvy up the work is fine with me. I’ll be waiting in the den for someone to call me back to the table for dessert. And if that dessert just happens to be a chocolate layer cake, I’ll know the transition to the new house will have been a successful one.
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Commentary: “My granddaughter Charli, dressed in an ankle-length sun dress, sporting a fresh manicure and wearing light lipstick (her mother helped reorganize that), quietly welcomed me to the affair, maintaining an air of sophistication that surprised. She knew it was a big deal.”