I decided during a particularly rough spot of my misery late last night, that I've being going about Thanksgiving all wrong and will be implementing a new plan of attack for next year. I starved myself all day in anticipation of the bounty to come, so essentially I felt miserable until I finally sat down with my over indulgent plate of fanfare.
I enjoyed 8 minutes of blissful palate delights. Then, feeling slightly deprived of the things I couldn't fit on my plate the first go, went back for seconds...another 5 minutes of pleasure. Now add 2 minutes of heavenly pause...... and then the weight of my purge sank like a rock into my guts and I spent the remainder of the day, miserable, stretched out in a feeble attempt to give digestion room to work magic. 15 whole minutes of my day were spent in triumphant gluttony. The rest, I'll call it what it was, misery. Obviously I'm going about the day wrong~~~
At my Thanksgiving there is no such thing as matching silverware polished to a fine sheen. I've never seen coordinating place mats nor a candelabra centerpiece to hypnotize it's patrons. Fine china would never be brought out for such an occasion (far too dangerous) and I'm pretty sure mayhem would break out if someone got cocky and tried to use place cards. Food items are not revealed one at at time in pretty little serving dishes (I'm pretty sure that sort of slow progression would cause mutiny) and I've never witnessed a moment of pause, or silent thanks, or group prayer or anything that would try to hold back the tidal wave of people frothing at the mouth. Thanks, is the responsibility of individuals at large.
When my Mother, who reigns Queen on this day, (it's her house, and her turkey), says, "Time to eat." (and no one would dare touch so much as a deviled egg until she makes her official announcement) The swell of the crowd presses in on itself and it becomes a dog eat dog world. Every soul for themselves sort of deal. Survival of the fittest. Neanderthals with manners.
The thing is, if you don't dive in right away, something could run out (one year mashed potatoes ran out, that horror will go into family folklore) , and then there is a matter of Real Estate. One must find a good chair at various eating stations located all over the house. I've never seen anyone have to sit on the floor, but there is real estate at Mom's house that feel like a beach side resort, and there is what one might consider ,the low rent district. One must stake a claim quickly and then be prepared to protect it (show claws and sharp teeth).
I love it.
I think refined dinning, the picture of Martha Stewart perfection is geared toward little families, you know 20 or less type numbers. Mature affairs hold an air of mystery for someone like me that grew up, with potluck dishes and buffet expectations. I'm not sure of the count on yesterdays fiesta, but I can say, it swelled beyond 40 family members.
The house vibrates with the sounds. Children laughing and running. I watched one little 4th or 5th cousin ( it's humanly impossible to keep track anymore) of mine skating across my Mom's travertine floors with her 'built in skate shoes', back and forth, a big old grin on her face because no one seemed to care. There's the noise of plastic forks on paper plates. And conversations. So many conversations overlapping one another that I imagine an unskilled visitor would get a headache trying to follow everyone and everything going on.
It's easy to imagine what it would be like to be a mind reader in these gatherings. I just closed my eye's, and imagined myself in a library of quiet and listened. I realized yesterday that if I didn't focus on one specific voice, I could delight in a huge array of conversations all at once. Stories, detailed accounts of recent surgeries, or births. A shopping trip gone awry, a car that broke down. God. Atheism. Elections and hope. Sex. TV shows. Books. Gossip. Movies. Wolves. Future. Recipes, And the most important, memories of someone now gone.
I realized that story telling is the principle symbol of all my family gatherings. The people who capture the biggest slice of center stage have booming voices and can spin a tale or recall family history in a way that captures a good portion of the ears around. The story tellers are animated with hands, facial gestures and often stand up to encourage complete attention. There is little family glory in being shy or the quiet one, (there's very few of those anyway) so I'm right up there narrating my own memories and stories with the best of them.
It's all a little crazy, but I fully understand now how grateful I am for such a booming, procreating family. My family style Thanksgivings, paper plates and all, would never make the cover of Martha Stewart and the notion of cultured or refined is a foreign concept to my family posse.
And that's all right by me~~