Thursday, November 26, 2015

Plenty to Be Thankful For

It was another beautiful, sunny day when I got up this morning. Started off the day with some Thanksgiving and Christmas short stories and poems. In addition to the material from the Collier's Book of Holidays, I found two more stories and book excerpts. Pilgrim's Party is a short story from the early 60's Disney anthology Storybookland. Mickey takes the Disney characters on a road trip to New England, and then to Massachusetts, where they decide to celebrate the holiday at the recreated pilgrim's settlement at Plymouth. It's all fun and food, until Pluto steals the turkey! In the last two chapters of Kit Learns a Lesson, Kit Kitteredge isn't feeling very grateful for the boarders her parents have taken in to make ends meet during the Great Depression. She feels like a maid and is sure her dad will find work soon. It takes a surprising encounter at a soup kitchen to show her how important it is to be thankful for those around us.

Rose called while I was getting dressed. Mind if we switched to being picked up between 10 and 10:30? They had to drop Toby, their larger dog, off at Dad and Jodie's. That was fine. It would give me a chance to have breakfast and get organized.

I ate the last of the Carrot-Pineapple Muffins and a half a grapefruit, then finished packing while watching Thanksgiving specials. It's A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving when Peppermint Patty invites herself, Marcie, and Franklin over to Chuck's house for dinner. Trouble is, he's eating at his grandma's house. She doesn't appreciate the meal of toast, jelly beans, ice cream, and popcorn, until Marcie and Linus remind their friends that Thanksgiving is about a lot more than food.

The Mayflower Voyagers reminds us just what this holiday is about. In this episode of the miniseries This Is America, Charlie Brown, the Peanuts play pilgrim kids who come over to the New World with their parents to start over. The voyage to what we now know as New England is fraught with peril, including storms and crowded and miserable conditions. Things aren't much better at Plymouth, where starvation and disease plague the settlement. It isn't until the natives Squanto and Massasoit teach the settlers how to plant corn and hunt and fish that their lives begin to improve. They're so thankful for their bountiful harvest, they invite the Natives for a feast of Thanksgiving.

Garfield isn't feeling all that thankful in Garfield's Thanksgiving. Jon just invited Liz the Veterinarian over for Thanksgiving dinner...right after she's put him on a diet! It doesn't help that Jon can't cook a turkey to save his life. Good thing Grandma from the Christmas special knows how to make things right.

After Garfield ended, I listened to my lovely LP of mountain folk songs and old American songs while fixing one of my pairs of work pants. I just got them not long ago - I don't have the money to replace them. The very bottom of the seat split at the seam. I'd just finished sewing it as best I could (I'm terrible at sewing, but I can figure out enough to fix a seam) when Rose called, saying she'd be there in two minutes. I took my things and went downstairs...then came back upstairs briefly. Mom said to bring a pillow, and I forgot.

I went up with my 5-year-old nephew Khai, my sister Rose, her boyfriend Craig, and their mini-pincher Kelsey. Rose and Khai got up at 5 AM today to make her apple pie, and Khai was a very tired boy. He rested for most of the trip. We did make a stop at WaWa for drinks. I got Cherry Limeaide Sparkling Ice and a soft pretzel. Khai got Cheetos. Rose bought Monster Energy drinks for her and Craig. We admired the view of the lovely South Jersey countryside, including a horse farm. (Craig kept telling Khai to watch out for Bigfoot, despite Rose and I admonishing them that there's no such creature.)

We got in around quarter after 12. Everyone else was already there, including Mom and Dad, my sister Anny, her boyfriend Jay, her sons Collyn (7 next month) and Skylar (11) and their baby girl Lilah (10 months) and my brother Keefe and his new girlfriend Carmen. I spent most of the next few hours that I wasn't scarfing the vegetable and ranch dip tray and home-made cheese ball and crackers watching over the boys. They rode a bike and a scooter for a while, speeding up and down the dead-end street Mom and Dad live on, riding around houses where no one lived. When they got bored with that, I took them in the back to toss around a Nerf football, then a Frisbee. (And kept trying to get Skylar off the porch. I was afraid someone would break a window or Mom's beloved wind chimes.)

We went inside for a while to rest, eat appetizers, and watch TV. The Eagles-Lions game wasn't going very well. They did play a little better later, but they were mostly terrible. (The Eagles ultimately lost 45-14.) We had more fun with strange cartoons like Gravity Falls (Dipper is put on trial for arguing that reality is better than fantasy), Teen Titans Go! (video game spoof), and Phineas and Ferb (first Doofensmirtz helps Perry the Playpus' secret agent organization take down a tiny little scientist bent on destroying them, then Candace puts herself on a Groundhog Day loop when her last day of summer vacation keeps going badly and she can't bust her brothers).

We ran into some problems when we went back outside. Khai and Collyn both wanted to ride the scooter, but Khai's an only child who isn't really used to sharing his toys. They both got into a rather noisy argument on a neighbor's driveway across the street. Dad finally settled it by borrowing two older scooters from his next-door neighbor John. I also got a chance to chat with John and with another neighbor of my parents' a few doors down.

The boys and I were watching cartoons again when dinner was finally ready. Mom spent the afternoon fussing that the turkey was too small and greasy and bent out of shape. I usually eat the dark meat anyway and I don't like gravy, so yeah, it was a little dry, but not that bad. In addition to the poor turkey, there was mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top, potato rolls with butter, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, glazed carrots, pearl onions in white sauce, and home-made stuffing. I had a little of everything but the mashed potatoes. I'm not a big fan of white potatoes.

We all sort of broke up after dinner. Craig took Khai on a brief trip to the Canyon Club condos on the Wildwood Crest side of the Cape May Bridge to see his parents and brother. Rose and Anny were crazy enough to elbow their way through early Black Friday shoppers and pick up two things for their kids at Walmart. Carmen talked to relatives on her phone on the porch. Dad and Keefe stayed attached to the Cowboys-Panthers game. (The Panthers not only won 33-14, they knocked out Tony Romo again, too.)

I had an intimate conversation with Skylar. We walked up and down Willow Drive. When we got back to Mom and Dad's house, Skylar sat on the bed of Dad's white truck, and we watched the stars come out. He's such a smart kid. We talked about our siblings, our parents, our families, cartoons, and the things we both like.

Mom was starting to pull out the desserts when we came in. Skylar immediately swarmed towards Mom's chocolate cake. I went for the pumpkin pie and Reddi-Whip topping. I love pumpkin pie. It isn't Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. I had a couple of chocolate chip bars and a small slice of chocolate cake, but I just couldn't fit in Rose's apple pie. I'll have that tomorrow.

Played with little miss Lilah after dinner. She's absolutely adorable. I brought my stuffed turkey Plymouth downstairs to show her. She was absolutely fascinated by him. She sat in Jay's lap and kept patting and pulling at Plymouth, probably wondering what this strange, colorful thing was. She has big, round blue eyes like her mom's when she was tiny and fluffy, wavy brown hair. She's still learning to walk on her own, though her mom says she doesn't have a lot of confidence. She'll walk a few steps, then fall down. Jay and Anny's mostly been holding her hands.

Skylar, Khai, and I finished the night with our desserts and more cartoons. Even as we watched the very odd Wander Over Yonder (a strange little creature wants to make friends with everyone it meets - even an evil galactic overlord), Khai was falling asleep over his vanilla ice cream. Rose got him into his new Batman pajamas. He finally passed out on the couch in the living room, shortly before Anny took her crew home.

I'm taking a respite of my own while the remaining family members continue to eat and chat downstairs. I hope all of you had a beautiful Thanksgiving with your own families (including the Canadians, who had their turkey last month). Everyone else, I hope you enjoyed the last days of fall.

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