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There's nothing like Wild Turkey for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving: the redheaded stepchild of holidays.

Crammed between Halloween and Christmas, Thanksgiving offers a dysfunctional day-long distraction from the business of life. It's an excuse to blow the diet and sit on the sofa for eight hours next to Uncle Edgar, who sleep-watches football with his hand jammed in his unbuttoned waistband.

We stuff our skeletons in the closet to make room for aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents to enter, out of oblivion, into our home. By the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, enough family gossip surfaces to last until next November.

Truly, any old bird, even great-aunt Eulene, is palatable when chased with a little Wild Turkey. (But, I swear she makes her homemade cranberry sauce with mothballs.)

Keeping one eye open during the patriarch's thirty minute blessing, we watch the children's tables in the hall. Gramps gives the annual prayer-speech about how he and "mother" started all this, mentioning each of the Lord's blessings (big, small and questionable) and all relatives deceased or absent.

Where'd that Wild Turkey go?

On one end of the table, 42 year old cousin-in-law Leslie Jack regales us with her tales of getting drunk at the country club in Youmistit, Ark. She and her cohorts tie one on, hijack a golf cart and hunt armadillos along the links with .22 rifles at 3 a.m. We're all invited for a visit.

The family matriarch feigns hot flashes and the Wild Turkey takes another spin around the table.

At the opposite end sits Uncle Edgar, whom no one remembers how he fits into the family. With the passing decades and the whispering about where he came from dying down, we feel a little silly asking him about his lineage. At any rate, he leads a lopsided discussion on goat prices today versus 1955.

One of the "nephews," for sport, eggs Uncle Ed on by asking if he's in the market for a goat. This, naturally, sets Uncle Edgar off, saying "Ain't you been listenin' boy? You cain't git a good goat for a reasonable price these days. Where would I keep a fool goat at Millin' Around Manor anyways? Dern kids these days. Don't listen to a word you say..."

I think I saw the Wild Turkey fly by.

Meanwhile, at the children's tables, the gang of under-agers realizes no one has looked at them since grace. The few tikes, who haven't snuck off to poke a fork at Uncle Edgar's hairpiece, lying on the floor behind the chair where he snored through the pre-game shows, are building mashed potato sculptures to rival the one in Close Encounters.

After dinner, someone loosens great-aunt Eulene's wheelchair seatbelt and rolls her into the den where she falls asleep, slumps forward, and drops her dentures on her lap. About that time, one of Cousin Leslie Jack's illegitimate children happens by and slips them in his mouth, pretending to have vampire teeth.

Pass the Wild Turkey, please.

Around 7 p.m. the holiday, devoid of decorations, gifts or even candy and eclipsed by football and wacky relations, draws to a close. Uncle Edgar, startled awake by the silence of the clicked-off television, stands suddenly, saying he saw the whole game, and drops his pants to his ankles. We find Aunt Eulene's teeth and arm wrestle to see who will replace them before she wakes.

The crowd exits, barely missing the skeletons crashing out of the closet.

Moving on, we share the leftover Wild Turkey and hang the Christmas lights.



Web posted on Wednesday, November 24, 2004


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