Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Diary of A Thanksgiving Survivor

by Tracy Kiely

The following is an excerpt from the private diary of Elizabeth Parker. Distribution without the written consent of major league baseball is strictly prohibited.

November 25, 2010

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Thanksgiving would be much more enjoyable if valium was injected in the turkey.

1.45 p.m. I have arrived at my childhood home, now the place of abode of my mother and her live-in boyfriend, George. My father passed away a few years ago and in a fit of loneliness my mother hooked up with George. He’s not a bad guy, but he’s one of those people who need to be watered every few weeks. My mother greets me at the door and tells me that I look “tired.” George grunts at me from his seat in front of the television where he is absorbed in watching a football game.

2.00 p.m. At the second commercial (the first was for a car that George thinks is “the balls” and required silence so he could watch it), George informs me that he has taken over the cooking of the turkey. This is somewhat surprising as my mom is an accomplished chief. However, George tells me in a hushed voice that the secret to his recipe is the soy sauce in which the bird has apparently been soaking in for three days. In a large bucket. In the garage.

2.30 p.m. My sister Kit, her husband Paul, and their son five-year-old son, Pauly, arrive. Kit is pregnant with their second child. From the way she has detailed every aspect of this pregnancy, I suspect that the Bible may have erred in suggesting that there is only one Messiah as Kit is batting two for two. Pauly is something of a terror mainly because my sister has trouble with following through with discipline. She believes that time-outs are ineffectual because the “child isn’t made to understand the reasoning behind the problem.” So far, this way of parenting has gotten Pauly kicked out of three day-care centers.

2.33 p.m. Pauly is intent on climbing onto the dining room table. Kit tells him that if he doesn’t behave they will not get a Christmas tree. Surprisingly, Pauly seems unaffected by a fate that may (or may not) happen a month from now and ignores Kit.

2.37 p.m. Pauly has tried to flush a napkin down the toilet. Kit has now upped the threat to cancelling Christmas outright. Pauly flushes a second napkin down the toilet.

2.45 p.m. Thank God. Aunt Winnie (technically my great Aunt Winnie, but she gets peevish when I call her that) arrives. With her is her boyfriend, Randy. Upon hearing about the state of the turkey, Aunt Winnie claps her hands and cries “capital, capital!” Only I know what she means.

3.00 p.m. George puts on “The Game.” None of us know who is playing or why it is important. However, George, who would watch paint dry if it were a nationalized sport, is enthralled for the next few hours. By enthralled, I mean catatonic. The rest of us are hushed into silence by George.

3.15 - 5.24 p.m. Kit ignores George’s request for silence and explains to all of us in excruciating detail why she has decided for natural childbirth. I stop listening at the word “crowning” and begin to drink more than I should and wish George would enforce his rule of silence.

5.25 pm. My mother’s suggestion that George check on the turkey is dismissed by George who claims that the soy sauce “adds moisture” and so “needs to cook longer.”

5.35 p.m. Aunt Winnie and I, now starving, raid the pantry for stale crackers.

5.36 p.m. My mother asks me – for the 36th time - why my boyfriend, Peter, couldn’t join us. I explain- for the 36th time – that he is with his family in San Diego. Kit rolls her eyes at this and scoffs saying that “if it were serious, he’d be here.” I restrain myself from throwing my glass at her.

5.45 p.m. Pauly tries to flush the cat down the toilet. Kit threatens to cancel Easter.

6.13 p.m. The game now over, George announces that the “bird is done”. He takes it out of the oven with great fan fare.

6.14 p.m. There is a hiss and a faint popping sound after which the legs of the dried out bird fall off. I studiously do not make eye contact with Aunt Winnie.

6.23 p.m. George shuns the carving set claiming that the metal on the knife leaves a residue on the meat. He thus uses his bare hands and commences acts of carnage that are so unspeakable that decorum prevents me from recording them here.

6.27 p.m. In some countries, I believe that George and the bird are now engaged.

6.56 p.m. The gravy boat is empty. I have a headache. Pauly in under the table with his dinner and there will apparently be no Fourth of July at Kit’s house. George wanders off to watch to post-game wrap up. My mother asks what “was the real reason that Peter didn’t come”.

7.20 p.m. I leave. Next year –somehow – I will be in London where I understand they don’t celebrate this holiday.


Meredith Cole said...

Hope your own Thanksgiving is lots better--we do like to torture our characters, don't we?

I've got Murder at Longbourn to read over the holiday... Yay!

Mary Vaughn said...

This was fiction? I thought you recorded my neighbors.
Have a much better Thanksgiving than your "friends."

Shane Gericke said...

"He’s one of those people who need to be watered every few weeks."

Love that line!!