I love Thanksgiving. Not for the food, the cooking, or the weather, but because in my family, it gives us the opportunity to laugh. A lot. Mostly at ourselves. My family has a string of slightly disastrous Thanksgiving stories that make for a lot of laughter as we retell them every holiday season.
I was reminded of this just tonight. This year, our plan was to travel to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving; however, the Pacific Northwest (and particularly the monster hill on which we live) is in deep freeze. We don’t do well in freezing conditions up here. Plus Tanner has a bad cold. So we decided at the last minute not to travel over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house. Instead, Jim bundled himself down the icy hill with my hastily scrawled Thanksgiving shopping list in his hand.
One of the items on the list was “foil.” Instead, Jim came home with a duck in lieu of a turkey. Apparently, as he tried to decipher my chicken scratch, he saw the word foil and read it as foie. Oh how cute, he thought to himself, she wrote it in French. As he checked out, the clerk asked him what the duck was.
“My wife must have wanted duck this year,” he told her. “She even wrote it on my list in French!”
1. I am not in the habit of writing shopping lists in French.
2. The French word for duck is canard.
I’ve avoided roasting a duck in the past because, although I really love to cook, duck can be quite time consuming. Tomorrow I’ll be cooking duck. Jim and I couldn’t help but laugh. It is appropriate, given my family history.
It all began years ago when I was a ‘tween. We were packing up the dinner my mother had cooked to go dine at my grandmother’s house. Our house had a detached garage at the time. One that required a walk through the back yard into the gravely and oil stained garage.
Mom carefully packed the the turkey in a basket. Then she handed it to my dad with the fateful words, “Don’t drop it.”
My father rolled his eyes and headed out the back door.
A few minutes later, I made my way out to the car with a jell-o salad, only to find my dad on his hands and knees behind the car scraping turkey out of the gravel. He looked at me with a sheepish grin and said, “I guess I did drop it.”
The ride to grandma’s house was rather quiet and a little bit frosty in the front seat, although the giggling in the back seat more than made up for it. Fortunately it was a fairly short ride, and my sisters and I managed to hold it together. Sort of.
When we got to grandma’s house, my mother gave us all a serious look and said, “Whatever you do – don’t tell your grandmother.”
My younger sister was probably about eight at the time. She had a big mouth. She ran ahead of the family and burst through the door to my grandmother’s apartment. “Dad dropped the turkey and mom’s mad!”
At the time, only a few of us found it funny. Now we retell the story every year, passed on to the next generation. I still can’t see the picture of my dad scraping turkey up off of the garage floor in my mind, and I still can’t help but laugh.
We’ve had other smaller disasters at holidays. Pumpkin pie without sugar, extremely sour lemon pie – just little things. But they build stories that we share every year during the holidays. It’s our Thanksgiving tradition. Jim’s “foie” will go in the archives of stories that we will retell and laugh for years to come. We’re already laughing about it.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for my family’s wonderful sense of humor. No matter what else is going on, I can always count on our ability to laugh together. Happy Thanksgiving.