Thanksgiving

Pants Are Highly Overrated

I was standing in the kitchen last night (early this morning, actually) at 2 a.m., making noodles and fighting a raging case of insomnia.  I was listening to the new music releases on Spotify (which was utterly depressing, don’t do it) with headphones on.  I was wearing nothing but a long sleeved, plaid flannel button up shirt, and my panties.  I had no pockets and needed my hands to make noodles so I put my phone down my panties for safe keeping.  Don’t judge me.

My panties have done a lot of shit over the years but this was a new one.  They started ringing and not a normal ring tone.  It was that weird Facebook Messenger ringtone when someone calls you wifi to wifi that sounds like a woodpecker playing percussion after a really bad trip.  Don’t hold me to that, that’s just my take on it.  I’ve never actually met a woodpecker and I’ve never been on a bad trip.  Bad hangovers but no bad trips.

But I digress yet again.

I’ve never actually followed through with one of those Messenger calls because it’s usually a butt dial.  But I retrieved my phone from the nether regions of my panties and saw it was my good friend “Lulu”.  Lulu and I message every single day but have never actually talked to each other on the phone or met in person.  It’s kind of weird that a chick I’ve never met before knows that I can’t put buttercream frosting anywhere near my vagina without followup medical intervention but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Lulu and I had been messaging each other earlier, commiserating over our mutual elusive Sand Mans.  She was cooking, I was starving and sleepless in bed.  A coughing fit overtook me (I’m still sick) and I finally said to hell with it and got up when E threatened to (and I’m quoting) kick my coughy-y ass out of bed.

I answered my phone and said, “Did you ass dial me?”  Turned out, she kind of neck/boob called me.  She stressed no nipple was involved but I told her we could save that for the next time.  We have to have something to look forward to.

I sounded like a Southern trucker due to my scratchy voice (Lulu said I didn’t but I think she was just being kind) but we were on the phone for a whole two hours, finally ending the call and going to bed at 4 a.m.

I’m kind of a loner.  I know most of you won’t believe that but it’s true.  I’d rather be home watching a movie with my kids any given night.  I’d rather not get involved in the sticky details of someone else’s life because I have enough sticky details of my own.  Issues?  Oh, I’ve got ’em.  Plus I’ve gotten back on another reading binge, which I always seem to do during the winter and I’ve learned over the years that people generally get offended when you bring a book to a get together.  Going out or inviting someone over is just too much to ask at times plus I have to put clothes on.  You know, normally.

But I’ve been trying these past several months to make myself break out of my comfort zone.  Instead of replying to a friend’s stressed, cry for help Facebook post “Hey, let me know if you need anything”, I’ve made myself type “Do you need dinner tonight or tomorrow night?” or “‘What can I buy for us to drink together and when?”

This has resulted in sitting outside on my deck for so long with a girlfriend, drinking and talking, that we were able to get drunk and then sober up in the same night/morning.  It’s led to me agreeing to be a substitute for a friend’s Bunco group, which I swore to never do again (that’s a Texas story I need to tell y’all sometime) and actually having a lovely time last week.  It’s led to counseling a good friend from high school (or attempting to) about a troubled marriage and actually being there for him via messages when he finally had to make the gut wrenching choice to leave.  It’s led to a 4 hour coffee date with a friend, holding her hand while she cried in Dunkin’ Donuts several weeks ago, confessing dark things we’d all rather keep to ourselves but just have to be admitted before it keeps us hostage in that dark place.  It’s led to having coffee with another friend in a different coffee shop, laughing and crying over much more serious things than Bunco.  Life altering things, big girl panties kind of things.  It’s led to agreeing to go with a friend’s family this Thanksgiving Day to buy dessert for and help serve the homeless in downtown Birmingham a holiday meal.

It’s made me a better person.

Don’t get me wrong.  A friend turning up on my doorstep unannounced is still kind of as perplexing to me as opening the door to a bag of flaming shit.  But I’m getting better.

ahole

Call someone you haven’t called in a while today.  Or better yet, call someone you’ve never called.  Worst case scenario is awkward silence.  Just blame it on this crazy red headed chick you know, say you accidentally ass dialed them, hang up, then put your phone back in your panties.

Have a good week, y’all.

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Sage Words On Thanksgiving (See What I Did There?)

Gracie and I made pumpkin pies together earlier tonight.  They’re cooling as I type this.  My cornbread and biscuits are in the oven now.  I will make them into dressing tomorrow.

My dressing recipe is a simple, no frills recipe that my Granny made every Thanksgiving and Christmas for her six children and eventually for all six of those children’s children.  She made it out of cornbread and biscuits.  Completely homemade.  I now use Bisquick and Corn Kits to cheat on my dressing.  If I use any other cornbread mix, it comes out too sweet.  It has to be Corn Kits.  I would feel bad but towards the end of Granny’s life, she firmly believed some shortcuts were okay.

Holidays were always spent at my Granny and Bud’s house.  My grandfather went by the nickname of “Bud”, even his kids called him that and when we grand kids started coming along, we did also.

All six of Granny and Bud’s children and their families would pile into their small house for holidays.  The smell of the house on a holiday was the most heavenly smell in the whole world.  We could barely squeeze around all the card tables set up in the already small kitchen and dining area, filled to the brim with so much good country food.

We kids would play raucous games of Spoons after lunch.  My uncles would doze on the couch until the Dallas Cowboys game came on the television, then they would start yelling angrily at Roger Staubach.  I knew to stay down and out of the way but that was my favorite place to be – in the middle of yelling men and football.

After Bud died, I would spend the night before Thanksgiving with Granny.  It was just us.  We would bake and talk and laugh.  One of her favorite things in the world was watching WWE wrestling so if that was on, we watched it.  This was back in the golden days of Rowdy Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan.  We tried to tell her it wasn’t real.  You didn’t make that mistake twice.

My Granny was getting on in years by that time, so my goal was to learn how to make her dressing.  I was her official taste tester and it didn’t go into the oven until I had given my approval.  I knew the distinction between not enough sage and too much sage.  I knew when it needed more salt, more pepper.  She would add ingredients as I said because she couldn’t really taste it anymore and after growing up with her dressing, I knew how it should taste.  During all those taste sessions, I learned how to make her dressing, which was such a simple recipe that it has never been written down.

Those Thanksgiving Eves were the most valuable gifts she gave to me, to this day.

We stay in Alabama for Thanksgiving every year so it’s just my small family.  There’s not the chaos of a big family to distract me so this is when I miss my Granny so badly it hurts my heart, even though she’s been gone for 15 years now.  I’ve felt her presence this week so strongly, I can’t even explain it.  That presence is special but this year, for some reason, I’ve felt pain over her death I haven’t felt in a long time, like a healed wound has been opened back up.

So I took to my Facebook account yesterday and asked friends what food it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without, besides turkey.  I told them they got bonus points for stories attached to the food.  I really wanted the memories and that’s what I got.  The stories that showed up in my status had me both laughing and crying.  There is no shortage of love and memories out there.

Jana:  My mother made scalloped pineapple. It was the most disgusting thing in the world, but my father circulated prior to dinner and insisted that we all take some and eat it, so as not to hurt her feelings. Mind you, we had this as far back as I remember. Two years ago, she says, I hope you all don’t mind, but I really hate scalloped pineapple so I am not making it anymore. Seriously? Our kids should have to suffer through that crap, since we had to!

Kari:  Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole. Bonus? The time my niece and daughter made it at my house for the entire family and somehow managed to bake a dryer sheet in it. It was the most outdoor fresh casserole ever made in the history of shitty food.

Cameron:  Grits Souffle. My Mom. Nuff said.

Brett:  Sweet potatoes and cherry and blueberry cheesecake, I miss having Thanksgiving at my Grandmother Costellos, who left this world four years ago.  I miss the way her house smelled on Thanksgiving, her big hugs, playing football with my uncles in the street and my siblings and I being younger and living in the same house.  My grandma was one of a kind, miss her daily, she always called me Brettzky.

Christina:  My grandmother was the best cook! Never used a recipe for anything. It was all in her head. I cooked with her a lot when I was young and can make from memory just about anything she made with one exception, her maple fudge. It was of the gods and the absolute best thing you ever put in your mouth and I can’t make it to save my life. The stingy old broad took it with her when she passed! I miss her so much.

Shawnda:  Dressing ( no stuffing here. We dress the bird, not stuff it. Lol) Cornbread base with some plain old white bread thrown in. My Granny’s recipe that was passed to my mom and her two sisters and then to me.

Deidre:  My mom said corn was all the pilgrims and Indians had to eat so we always had to start off with corn!  Of course we got to eat more, afterwards, but we had to do this ceremonial thing first and go around the table saying what we were thankful for! (We all hated this and laughed and had good jokes about it, but looking back now, I don’t know anyone else that ever did this, and what a memory now!)

Chanse: My thing for Thanksgiving is Giblet Gravy.  I must have it and cornbread dressing.  I remember one year my grandmother said she was only gonna fix cornstarch gravy, I replied if there is no giblet gravy grandma I will not be coming. She called my mom Thanksgiving morning and had my mother tell me she went and got Giblets and I could make my own as long as her oldest grandson was there, lol.  Memories indeed.

Derise: My mammaws cooking and watching the Cowboys on TV at least that’s how we do it in Texas

Cindy: Homemade cranberry sauce. The first time I made it alone, I had the heat up too high and the cranberries exploded all over the kitchen. I was laughing and crying at the same time.

Cody:  My Thanksgiving food memory is being in my parent’s kitchen the night before helping my Mom make dressing. I would be the taste tester for it and my Dad would cringe when I would eat the raw dressing. He swore up and down that I was going to get salmonella poisoning. Never got it and really enjoyed being the official taster tester. Miss those times so much.

Cherish:  My Dad’s ham is pork shank injected with butter and cajun seasonings.  Last year right as were were about to get the ham ready we discovered our injector to be missing with no time to go get another one. So we had to figure out another way. We used team work, I stabbed the ham and made a nice slit and held the slit open and my dad poured the butter mix into it and we did that several times all over the ham. haha

Gary:  Dressing!  While she was alive…..my Mom’s German Chocolate Cake was a holiday staple!

Laurie:  My Mimi’s dressing, which became my Aunt’s, and my Mom’s and Sister’s and now Gary’s! A family tradition!  This year we are going to start some new traditions, but I can’t say what they are or no one will show up!

Lee Ann:  Obviously, dressing evokes fond memories and each person makes it differently… Some with prozac and others with pot. Truth is we all call it “sage” and get along because it is Thanksgiving, and being pent up with family takes work and help.

Dressing was the clear cut winner for favorite Thanksgiving food, although broccoli cheese casserole had a couple mentions and good old pot got a nod from my funny yet realistic friend Lee Ann.

Thank you to all my friends who participated.  I laughed, I cried, and the best part is I don’t feel so alone missing my Granny.

There are gaping holes in every family left by loved ones no longer with us but those spaces are filled up a bit by the wonderful memories they left behind.  Their memories live on in that same food you ate as a small child that you now make for your children.  Maybe your loved one isn’t gone, you just can’t be together this holiday.  Call them and share one of your best memories with them.  I bet they’ll be surprised what is special to you and they’ll be touched you told them.  Honor lost loved ones by telling a story about them at the dinner table.

Celebrate life, give thanks, and love those who love you.  Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.