Turkey, potatoes and political incorrectness stuff the table at Nana’s Thanksgiving dinner. Candles set the uncomfortable mood and pumpkin pie is the light at the end of the tunnel. The adult table is already drunk.
Devout Aunt Kristen says grace before insisting everyone announce one thing he or she is thankful for before the food is touched. Fearful of being skipped in the passing of the stuffing, a cliche answer of “I am thankful for my loving family” rolls off the tongue with a smile for Aunt Kristen and an eye roll for cousin Brian.
The feast begins with clinking utensils and quiet munching filling the room. Compliments are paid to the chef, leaving Nana blushing. Wine glasses are refilled. Philadelphia sports are cursed while their fandom is pitied. Glory days are revisited.
“Remember when…Remember when…Remember when…”
The kids' table listens and laughs at the all-too-familiar family banter, waiting for sweet (nosey) Nana to jump at the chance to ask the beloved question: “So, any boyfriends yet?”
“Mom, don’t assume it will be a boyfriend,” Aunt Susie interjects. “Better to say ‘significant other.’”
“Boyfriends, sorry, significant others, don’t correlate with 4.0s, especially on the pre-med track,” Dad feels compelled to follow-up, “Much like beer. Keeping the Natty near is a grade slip I fear.”
“What did she say? I think my hearing aid is broken,” Grandpa chimes in, tapping a grandkid on the shoulder.
After everyone has helped him- or herself to seconds, Mom yells from the other end of the table, “Who’s that singer with the tattoos that I love but dyed his hair that funky color?”
“That’s the one!”
“Genevieve, I can sing better than that punk,” Uncle Todd responds with cheeks rosier than normal, “And plus, he’s a scam. I have a buddy in the music industry that says auto tune does wonders.”
Uncle Rich puts down his utensils and proclaims, “You know who the real scam is? Obama.”
Grandpa scratches his forehead: “Osama?”
“It’s close enough, Dad,” Uncle Rich says, unrelenting. “I’m convinced he’s in cahoots with Muslims and the ISIS. Trump is going to make America great again. Just you wait, kids.”
The kids are beckoned to the kitchen to load the dishwasher. Wine is swapped for Baileys Irish Cream as dessert is brought to the table. The candles dimly flicker to match the sleepy mood cast by Tryptophan. The clink of utensils becomes few and far between as people lose speed. Ice cream for the pies a la mode begins to melt.
Sensing the slip into food comas, Aunt Kristen asks, “So Sophie, what would you say the color of your hair is? Turquoise?”
“She loves the Kardashians or Jenners or whatever,” Uncle Todd responds. “They have young girls dying their hair left and right to look just like them. It’s wrong.”
Uncle Rich shakes his head. “You know what’s wrong? Bruce Jenner, or whatever he's going by these days.”
“Say what you want about him,” Nana says, loosening the strain of her turtleneck. “But I’d kill for those boobs.”
The table erupts, diffusing all differences in opinion and ideology and reminding us why the family is gathered together. Grandpa chimes in as the laughter begins to die down:
“Huh? I didn’t catch that.”