The night before Thanksgiving, Henry stayed up until 2:00am, rifling through his grandma’s recipes like a normal man rifles through porn. I don’t know what he was looking for, considering that I procured an entire feast worth of gourmet recipes from this little thing I just heard about recently called the Internet. Of course Henry found something wrong with every selection: Too-expensive-ingredients (“That will cost more than the turkey!”). Lack of industrial kitchen. Not enough education completed to comprehend recipe wording.
In the end, he settled on:
- Smashed rutabaga with gingered pears
- Turnips gratin (hello new edible husband)
- Scalloped corn
- Meatless stuffing
- Mustard mashed potatoes (“OMG Tyler from the Food Network made them!”)
- Sweet potato pie
Oh, and that over-hyped turkey bullshit that everyone is always buzzing about.
My contribution to the day was taking Chooch to my dad’s house so that Henry could cook in the highest, most divine level of tranquility. Now, I only see my dad on holidays. Shame on me, sure, I know. But it’s awkward because our relationship was once more strained than the ab muscles of a man attempting to suck his own dick. Technically my step-dad, he legally adopted me when I was in the fourth grade. We engaged in non-stop battles of wits and psychological warfare for the entire duration of my teenaged years. Then he and my mom divorced and ironically, we now get along famously; and in an incredible twist, he was the only family member who talked to me while I was pregnant.
Corey, who was staying there while home from college, failed to tell him that Chooch and I were coming over, so my dad was genuinely shocked when he saw us on his doorstep. It was probably 75% of an act, but he seemed happy to see us and proceeded to dole out peanuts, JuJu Bees and cans of pop. He even gave me some Bagelfuls to take home, complete with single-serving packets of cream cheese. A trip to his house is always like a mini-grocery trip.
While he cooked, I made sure Chooch didn’t fall down the basement steps, eat paint chips, or break any of my dad’s classic car memorabilia, while Corey acted disinterested in our presence and my other brother Ryan napped on the couch. I got roped into sitting down for dinner with them, wherein my dad immediately picked a fight with Ryan, who evidently didn’t load his plate with enough food. “I told you not to eat all day!” my dad steamed, to which Ryan grunted, “Jesus Christ, Dad, I only ate some cashews!” My dad countered with a surly, “I saw the cheese you opened up in the fridge!” at which point Ryan hunkered down lower over his plate which seemed plenty decorated to me.
In an effort to break the ice, I chirped, “These mashed potatoes are really good, daddy!” He muttered that they were too runny, but really, anything tastes delicious when the butter ratio is 50/50.
Corey and Ryan didn’t speak at all throughout the painful meal, and I’m sure they were just thrilled at how kind our dad was being to me. He even noticed my hair and enthused about its aesthetic merits for just a note longer than natural.
I love my dad, but I was glad that I had a legitimate reason to shirk my way out the front door. Tension, it just doesn’t sit well with me.
Dinner at my house was supposed to be at 7, so that those who had other dinners to attend (Janna, Corey and Blake) would be newly starved by the time they came over for seconds. However, Henry’s tardy ass didn’t serve shit up until EIGHT O’CLOCK and everyone was bored, angry, hungry. Look at those mugs on Janna and Corey. You’d think they were watching a slide presentation of Henry’s mom dusting her ceramic kitten collection, that’s how glazed with ennui they are.
Sensing that a revolt was on the rise, Henry served up deviled eggs for us to stuff our mouths with while he frantically finished cooking.
For some reason, Henry was really impressed with himself. He kept boasting that the eggs were deviled with STONE GROUND MUSTARD. I’m not even sure what that means. They tasted regular to me, like he could have squirted in a quick fart of French’s for all I know. Something weird clearly went on in my house while Chooch and I were at my dad’s, because no one gets THAT excited over deviled eggs.
Finally, the moment for feasting was upon us, and we all loaded our fancy paper plates with mounds of seasonal slop. Blake pretty much questioned everything aside from the turkey, which was easily recognizable (good job, Henry). I explained to him that I wanted to eschew the expected and serve new twists on tradition. “You mean, you wanted my dad to make things that even YOU can eat,” Blake corrected. And oh how we laughed. (As I silently wished for Blake to choke on a turkey bone.) (Just kidding, Blake.) (No really.)
As I tore into my plate, I realized Corey didn’t have a fork. “It’s OK,” he promised. “I don’t mind waiting. I’ll just have a roll.” He paused, considering that statement, before holding up his broken hand and adding with the slight hint of chagrin, “Though, even THAT is a challenge.” He should have been giving less lip and more thanks for the fact that he has a hand AT ALL.
Later, he momentarily lost his appetite when he mistook the really expensive paper napkins to say “Joyous Fetus” instead of the much less interesting “Joyous Fetes.” We all laughed, but I don’t think Henry understood what was going on because he probably doesn’t even know what “fetes” means.
We’re so classy that we used our best plastic serving bowls. Not even TUPPERWEAR. Just generic, microwave-ravaged plastic. And there’s the gravy that burnt Henry’s hand and thank God it did because I really enjoyed hearing him cry about it all night long. I thought his mom was going to rush him to the Veteran’s hospital. I could almost see Henry’s mind churning: “Remember what they taught you in the SERVICE, big guy. You will pull through this! YOU WERE IN THE AIR FORCE, GODDAMMIT.”
And then Henry’s mom called Janna a myriad of other J-names (Janet, Janice, Joanne) but never Janna, and swore she hated sweet potato pie before admitting that she had never had it. Now she’s had it and likes it, though I maintain that Henry’s version (apparently it was EMERIL’S RECIPE, what a fucking carving knife to my heart) tasted unlike any sweet potato pie I’ve ever had. Ever. Like, no semblance at all.
Overall, I thought it was pretty good for our first time hosting a holiday in my ridiculously small dining room. I know I had fun, and Blake and Henry’s mom seemed content. Janna basically looked like she had just finished watching a double feature of “Benji” and “Old Yeller,” and Corey just looked bored as usual. The shit Henry made was good, and even the gravy was vegetarian. I learned later that my mother translated Corey’s spot at my table into meaning that — oh my god — he’s on MY SIDE. And this is exactly why I was happy to do my own thing this Thanksgiving.
Last night, I yelled, “I can’t wait to have Christmas here too!” but Henry remained curiously silent.
EDIT: I WILL NEVER COPY AND PASTE AN ENTRY FROM WORD EVER AGAIN. FUCK.