Saturday, November 27, 2010


Our Thanksgiving holiday was excellent, if a bit tiring. Mom is not as young and vigorous as she once was, so a large portion of the work fell to her favorite son who is privileged to be able to do it. This involves moving the furniture into a new configuration so as to accommodate the extended dining room table and chairs. Then the fine china has to be retrieved from its hiding place, along with the silver, tablecloth and various serving dishes. The table must be set properly, with the salad fork to the left of the dinner fork. The cooking involves putting the turkey into a smoker with mesquite chips and cooking it for four hours, a process that we've been using for years and which never fails to produce an excellent turkey. The smoker has a large pan of water just over the firebox which keeps all the meat moist.

I think that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There is limited shopping to worry about and, generally speaking, a maximum amount of pleasant socializing. In past years when more of our family were on this side of the lawn, Uncle Sardonicus would get a snoot full and lose his temper arguing politics with the rest of the crew. Auntie Annie would be horrified at his behavior and would give him hell when they would get back home. Sadly those days have gone by the wayside. For one thing, Auntie Annie finally had enough of Uncle Sardonicus's drinking habits and told him that if he didn't straighten up he'd find himself dog housed permanently. For another, Sardonicus has since developed a health condition that prohibits drinking anything more than one beer every six months or so. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

The one thing that I do not enjoy about Thanksgiving is the K.P. duty. Traditionally this job always fell to the women, although Auntie Annie always had to prod 88 to get her to pitch in and help. Then one year the women made an executive decision to clean up the kitchen between the meal and the serving of desert, which resulted in the men waiting around for an hour for a piece of pie. This didn't sit well with the men, and the Whiskey Man said as much to Mom. My dear Auntie Annie didn't have sense enough to be intimidated by the Whiskey Man, and so retorted that if the men could do any better they were welcome to try. Never one to back away from an electric fence and a pissing contest, Shotgun Bob put both feet into the leg hold trap and was joined by California Dave and Big Mike. So it was decided that the men would serve desert and provide clean up services.

All I can say is that at the time this decision was made, I was under the influence and had the good sense to stay quiet. Big Mike will likely argue that I was too loaded to speak, but he doesn't know what he's talking about since he was busy egging Shotgun Bob on while all this was happening. I won't bore the readers with an extended description of that first effort except to say that half the men involved had restaurant experience, and I don't mean managerial. Having little experience in a commercial kitchen, I was appointed as head waiter, which on the surface seemed like a good idea. In fact I had consumed three of the Whiskey Man's martinis (generous doubles of hundred proof - the Old Man knew how to pour a drink) and couldn't pour the coffee without spilling it. Then 88 squirted whipped cream all over my shirt. Never minding all that, Big Mike appointed himself head of the Kitchen Police and as a result of his hard work and organizational skills the desert was served in a timely fashion and the kitchen was actually cleaner and neater than when the cooking started. That's saying something, as Mom is very particular about her kitchen.

Usually Big Mike gets stuck washing the dishes. This year I determined that Mike would not get stuck with this somewhat onerous task, and since Shotgun Bob and The Girl elected to have Thanksgiving with Herself's family at trailer court North, I would do the dishes. This required some preparation on my part, meaning that I stayed out of the booze and took care not to over-eat. I also took a pain pill between dinner and desert as my lower back was bothering me from the morning preparations and from being on my feet most of the day, and I knew that bending over the sink would aggravate it.

The thing is, Mom likes to serve the dinner on fine china. I suggested paper plates and my suggestion was rejected out of hand. Since putting the china into the dish washer will ruin it, that means that everything must be washed by hand. This includes most of the cookware as well, as the dish washer can only accommodate  six of the 57 pieces used to prepare the meal. Grab the sponge and start washing, Jack. Big Mike and his mom, Chatelaine, dried dishes and put things away, for which I thank them. The washing procedure seemed to go on forever, and about half way through I realize that if the pain pill I took is working, it is not working well enough to counteract the nasty little demon with the ice pick. I resolve not to give up, and so in defiance of my notion that I've actually died and gone to Hades, there to wash dishes forever, the job eventually gets finished.

The women spend the time playing some sort of game in the living room which involves scrabble words, hearts and flowers. Mom enjoys herself, which makes the effort worthwhile. Did I mention that Shotgun Bob and The Girl were absent? No matter. They'll be here for the Christmas holiday, and then the two of them can be assigned to KP. Of course Mom has decided that since we'll be having a larger crowd on Christmas, perhaps it would be best to use paper plates instead of the good china.

No comments: