I need everyone to know just how normally we began. I keep saying this! I mean, my family was NORMAL! I grew up normal, the Goose and I were normal when we married. When I had babies, I was a really good mom. They had schedules, both slept all the way through the night before three weeks, ate right, took baths. I read a story every night, we listened to Wee Bible Songs in the car. They had my parents as the best grandparents who ever lived. I believe this could be at the heart of the issue.
When my parents passed away, we just went to hell in a monogrammed handbag.
Also, my house might have something to do with it. We moved out here in the sticks before the wave arrived. The house, ugly and sprawling, sat for two years without anyone making an offer. Thank goodness one of the only three talents I possess is design. I was in the business and the Goose has “an eye” as well (oh, I’m going to catch hell for saying this) and we saw through all its scary bluster and blue carpet. That said, it has been a monster of a house that my mother-in-law said I would never be able to keep clean. I refuse to make a snide posthumous remark here. It would just be too easy and those of you with monster-in-laws can fill in the blanks.
If it were just us four, we might have held it together. But no, living with us we’ve had one snarky foster child, one bi-polar uncle, two hospice patients, Shep’s traveling circus of friends, Cricket’s boyfriends, 25 fawns, numerous opossums, snakes, squirrels, two house rabbits, two house pigs, multiple dogs and cats, way too many housekeepers with personal issues, visiting relatives, oh and a frog that escaped and was seen for years just sitting in the sun in various rooms. We have played thousands of games of sardines in the dark and have managed to retrieve each and every person without much damage to their soul or body. There has been more covert smooching in my basement than anywhere in the county, I shudder to think. Kids have ridden mattresses down the stairs. At least one million drinks have been spilled by probably one million kids. There have been so many bonfires that the smell of woodsmoke is ingrained in our very hearts. Things have been launched, set afire, catapulted and a coconut bra was thrown through a new giant TV. A sheep has run through my house on more than one occasion, not to mention the craziness that goes on in my barn. It is insane.
I’m planning for Thanksgiving now. Growing up, I only ate downtown at beautiful hotel buffets for Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, the ones with omelet makers in tall hats ready to jump to satisfy my gastronomical desires. Just my little family, well behaved and nicely dressed (I was an only child). There was always a harp playing, artichoke salad, little tarts for dessert. As an adult, I’ve run the half marathon most years downtown. This year, though, I am lazy and out of shape and so we are having a “bastards” dinner here for those of us without families in town, or whose loved ones have gone. The diversity in our group is enormous. I would have never imagined that my “family” would grow to be what we are but I love it. Stop asking yourself what I’ll do about cooking. With heartfelt apologies to the two turkeys, Arlo 2 and Marlin, and two pigs, Orson and Babette, in my family, you know I’ll order in for the carnivores at my table. Kids will be drinking Kool-aid from my grandmother’s crystal and that will be okay. Adults will be telling stories, exaggerating, and loosening their belts. There will be laborious cocktails in silver shakers, wine will flow and things will get broken. Some will take walks. Sheep will graze on the lawn and all will be right with the world.
Judging by television, maybe families aren’t the same normal they were when we were growing up. When I look at my list of guests, I feel so blessed that, even though my everyday group of friends are with their families, there is always room for other friendships to grow and become closer and we can fill in for those who we miss so much it hurts, like my mother and dad. I am so excited and hoping to add anyone else who wants to come. I don’t care if people have to eat on the stairs, I want a real Thanksgiving, because sometimes I think we all forget to be thankful. This year, I am going to stop and be thankful in the moment that anyone loves me and that I have all of these people to love right back.
Everyone is invited. I can tell you this, there will be lots of non-poisonous food not made by me, barrels of wine, tons of laughter, music playing in the background (probably Jerry Garcia, not a harp, but anyway…) and time to be thankful for all the love for which this creaky, lovely old house with hidden rooms and uneven floors has had the room. Ya’ll come on, ya hear, and bring a casserole!