Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tis the season (almost)

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is less than a week away. The past couple of months have just flown by,  and at the rate things are going, Christmas will be here the week after next. It's really unfortunate then, that I'm just not feeling it this year. I can't quite put my finger on it, but this time of year I'm usually feeling a bit more relaxed and happy, unless I know we're going to be traveling. Then there is a sense of dread that builds and builds until the actual day of the trip. It's not that I don't want to see people for the holiday, it's that everyone else has the same idea. And they all want to drive like jackasses.

I think I can blame my parents for this one. I can't remember leaving the Shore for Thanksgiving, not one time. Most of the time, dinner was held at my aunt and uncle's house in Exmore. I'm not sure how they ended up becoming the official Thanksgiving destination, but I have a feeling it's because their house was big enough  for all of us to get together, but still avoid someone if we didn't like each other.

My aunt and uncle had a lot of property, so I was always exploring the woods, messing around in my uncle's shop, or playing around on his tractor while I was waiting for dinner to finish up. If the cousins were feeling generous, I was allowed to hang out with them. My cousins were all quite a bit older than me, so I was the usual target for abuse. It was never anything too serious, at least not enough to leave any emotional or physical scars, but  I do remember being the victim of more than a few brutal headlocks. They made up for it though, introducing me to things like Nintendo, archery, and comic books. There may have been a Playboy or two in there as well, but I will neither confirm nor deny that. The cousins also had a kick-ass fort that I would envy for many years. It looked like the sort of thing people would build after the end of the world, but in a good way. It probably didn't hurt that their dad was a contractor. Access to materials and knowledge can really make the difference when it comes to those sorts of things.

It amazes me to think about how many people actually fit into that house. Once you add up all the aunts and uncles, their kids, grandchildren, step-children, co-workers,  etc..there were at least 30 people there for dinner, yet it never really felt crowded. They usually cooked a ton of food for everyone, but you still had to be quick on your feet if there was something particularly good on the table.  By the time I was 10 or 11, I had learned the best strategy was to hover around the table, that way I would have first pick when dinner was officially served. It also meant I got to do a little taste testing beforehand, as long as no one was looking.

Once the leftovers were boxed up and shuffled off to the refrigerator, it was time for dessert. Just about everyone brought a dessert dish, and once all the pies, puddings, cookies, and brownies were laid out on the counter, the kitchen looked like the corner bakery. I used to eat disproportionately for my size, meaning I weighed around 80 lbs but still ate like a pro linebacker. By the time dessert rolled out, I'd already had two or three platefuls of food, as well as an incalculable amount of crackers and cheese. Yet I still had room for a couple servings of each pie, cookie, and cake that were within arm's reach.. I don't remember ever feeling like I had eaten too much. I wish I could say that now, when a single deviled egg can push me over the edge and leave me feeling like I'm going to explode for the next 24 hours.

The drive home was always a surreal experience for me. I would always be in the back seat, worn out from running around outside and stuffing my face. The 15 minute ride home seemed to stretch out for hours, and I would almost always be asleep before we pulled up to the house. By the time I made it up to my bed, Thanksgiving would be a mere memory. My mind would already be shifted into Christmas mode, and I would be preoccupied with Sears Wish Books, egg nog, and wishes for snow.

I'll be away from my computer for a few days next week, but I hope you all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.


See you 'round...




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