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A Slice of Thanksgiving

The little cloud of doom first appeared on Tuesday. My middle sister, May, had called to finalize plans on what to bring to Sean’s place. Her girl, Dee, had recently gone vegan. Two others in the family are diabetic. Sean, the host, was cooking lamb and turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes. He planned to buy pie. This was a big concession; he’s converted to the Church of No Sugar to lose weight. It’s been successful, but my observation that alcohol converts to sugar was ignored.

Accommodations needed to be made, and I had been elected in absentia. May planned on bringing rolls, but had no time to do anything else.

After I ended the call, I stared down at the list of dishes. Brussel sprouts with balsamic vinegar; check. Zucchini, carrots and onion in a honey soy sauce (Dee permits honey; apparently harvesting honey is good for bees?); check. Butternut squash and apple bake; check. Green bean casserole…ten minutes of Google and a grocery store run for vegan butter and almond milk later; check. Disaster averted!

The little doom cloud lingered. Sean set the time at 1pm, and I contacted Liz, the sister I was carpooling with. “Sorry, we’ll have to be late.”

“Why?”

“Yoga’s at 12, and I have to come home and shower, so we won’t be there before 2.30. Sorry.” There’s carefully concealed satisfaction in her voice, she’s been in a snippy mood lately.

I sigh, call, and get a ride with May. My husband, on cue, comes wandering in clutching his stomach.

“I don’t feel good…”

“That’s ok. You can stay home with the girl, you said you thought she wasn’t feeling well.”

He eyes me, wary at me giving his excuse to bail on the gathering before he’s had a chance to trot it out.

May arrives, and we proceed to Sean’s, kids in tow. Dee is coming with her dad, since she needed extra time to prepare. Teenager.

The second little cloud of doom appears when Sean calls on the way in, “Can you come out here?” He sounds harassed.

“On my way.”

“Good!” Call ends.

When we get there, the dog escapes. I climb the stairs with vegetable dishes as the security system blares, since Sean is chasing the dog. He gets back, asks, “So, how long should I grill the lamb?”

I suggest a time, and see with approval that the turkey is baking. A third cloud appears, but I can’t place it. The veggie dishes are on the table, waiting their turn in the oven, and Dee and her dad arrive.

The odors of burning meat do not meet her approval, but she soldiers on. He heads for the beer.

The table for sides also has eight bottles of wine and six of liquor. Suggestions that the space might be better used holding plates are ignored.

An hour later, I ask “How long has the turkey been on?”

“Hour and a half. It’s a twenty pounder!”

Oh, dear. “What temperature?”

“300. Low and slow.”

Good God. Well, no turkey today, even though he ups the temperature when I suggest it. The pan’s smoking a bit, because it’s shallow for the size of the turkey. Hopefully there’ll be no oven fire.

The dog noses his way into the kitchen to beg and is banished. May is tired of sitting in front of the gun room, and I pour a glass of wine and switch with her. Liz shows up, quizzes Dee on her vitamin supplementation. This degenerates into an argument about whether vitamin B12 causes cancer. Dee has the advantage, because even having dosed herself with antihistamines, Liz is sneezing from the dander from Sean’s cat and dog.

The talk turns to the pies. Sean went to the best pie place in town, and was surprised to find them sold out of the standards the day before Thanksgiving. He picked up German chocolate pecan and blueberry. The children’s revolt is immediate and loud, focused primarily on how blueberries are yucky.

The volume dies down as the lamb comes in to rest and the vegetable dishes go on the grill, the oven being occupied with the turkey for the foreseeable future. Shrill cries of hunger commence. These grow in volume as the aroma of the lamb permeates the house, and the dog lies underfoot, near the table. He radiates a canine aura of innocence.

Dee looks up from her phone. “Katy’s coming to pick me up, so we can have a vegan feast at her place!” she chirps brightly.

My gaze and her mother’s fall upon her, and she wilts a trifle. Her father shakes his head. “After the meal,” he says. She sighs and flounces off to text the unwelcome news, muttering about the stinky house.

The vegetable dishes come in, cooking dishes slightly scorched from the flames. The lamb is carved, the children are served, more beer and wine poured. The dog, who has bided his time, lunges, grabs the bone out of the resting pan and bolts for the basement. Sean chases him.

Swearing drifts up from the basement. I toast the house, pour more wine, get back in front of the door to the bedroom containing enough firearms to supply a militia, and laugh. It’s good to be together for the holidays.

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