When we kids started writing down stories for our mom, I asked if every memory we wrote had to be happy. She told me they didn’t, because not every moment of life is happy. In the stories I tell and post, there will be bad memories mixed in, because those are the ones that are significant and my responses to these events are part of what has shaped me into the woman I am today. Please note, though, that I did have a wonderful childhood, full of love and quality time and more toys than any child should have.
When I was younger, Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays. There were a few years that I can remember it being at our house, and those were my favorites. I only remember bits and pieces, like our neighbors (The Wallace’s) from across the street coming over. Mrs. Wallace made a dirt cake, an inexplicably fascinating combination of oreo cookies, cool whip and gummy worms served in a flower pot.
I think I remember watching the parade once or twice, but it wasn’t that interesting to me. I’ve never understood what’s so fascinating about watching a parade on TV. Maybe it’s because I’ve been in several of them or because I got spoiled by seeing so many at Disney throughout the years. Regardless, seeing the Santa float at the end of the parade didn’t signify anything huge, like the beginning of food-time or an annual football game. I think we mostly just ran around like crazy people, trying to get Brett and Beth Wallace to play with us instead of on our Game Boys.
When it came time to eat, I remember more about how the table looked before we ate than any of the meals. There was a mountain of rolls, as my family has always been part of the pro-carb lifestyle, and mashed potatoes. We had turkey, and maybe ham, and more desserts than we needed. My mom made pecan pies and my grandma made her famous monkey bread.
We made monkey bread with Grandma a few times after Thanksgivings stopped being at our house and started being at her’s. It was one of the quintessential things I can remember doing with my grandma and one of my favorite memories of her. Whenever we prepared it, she would stress the importance of using Texas-style biscuits, not flaky layers. Now that I’m an adult and have had the chance to experiment, I have no idea why she decided Texas-style was the ultimate biscuit selection for one of our favorite holiday desserts. We’d each have a job to do, whether it was to use the kitchen scissors to split the biscuits into quarters or shake the pieces in the cinnamon-sugar combination and lay them in the bundt pan. Then she’d pour the sugary melted butter over the whole thing, bake it for 30 minutes and spend the rest of the afternoon picking at it, trying not to be caught. Even after we found out she had diabetes she still made the monkey bread, always trying to sneak pieces whenever Dad or Grandpa weren’t looking.
Then there was the Thanksgiving when we were a little bit older when my parents fought. What needs to be understood is that my parents never fought in front of us kids, not even after they divorced. They’ve always held the extraordinary ability to remain civil, even when it’s clear they don’t agree with each other. I don’t remember why they fought that day, just that they did. I guess I watched them begin their argument in the living room of my grandparent’s house and I retreated to the study to get away from it. The study by the front door was my grandpa’s favorite room (at least, I think it was). It had a couch, a TV and a touch lamp on the desk. This touch lamp served to entertain all four of us kids for longer than it probably should’ve, but none of our lamps had three settings that you could activate with your pinkie. Regardless of why they fought, they did. These fights happened maybe one or two more times at Thanksgiving but they were enough to make my mom stop coming to Thanksgiving dinner. I think Thanksgiving was the first holiday we had to spend with one parent versus the other. It always mattered more to Dad than to Mom so we went with him and I hated it. There’s a very real possibility that this is the exact reason why I currently hate Thanksgiving, but that’s a different thought process for a different day.