“Thanksgiving is Relative” by Cappy Hall Rearick

This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Family.”

Our Thanksgiving began in earnest after the SUV carrying the grandkids from hell was history. Looking at those diminishing taillights was a plentiful reason to give thanks.

My husband, Babe, turned to me. “We survived the kids, but is the house still standing? I can’t look.” Glancing over his shoulder, I prepared myself for the wreckage.

Our cat Igor lay sprawled on his back with his legs sticking straight up. He had swished his tail so many times I fear he may have broken it. He spent the day hissing, snarling and running from the Jack Russell grandpuppy that chased Igor as though he were covered in Alpo. If he could have, Igor would have begged for Prozac, to which I’d have responded, “Too late.” Not too many people know that sucking on Prozac all day instead of hard candy means a quick jumpstart to a Zen experience. Trust me on this.

I didn’t decorate for the holiday. Instead, I asked the kids to gather leaves from the yard. They thought up the live frogs on their own. My oldest grandson crafted a groundhog from a brown paper bag and called it a turkey. Not wanting to stunt his possible creative growth spurt, I nodded outwardly and winced inwardly.

Our family barely tolerates the vegetarian who eats nothing that previously wore fur or feathers and the other who eats only Cocoa Puffs. According to my daughter-in-law, she intends to remain on a hunger strike. It will last until she gets the green light to hire a live-in cook. My son, an enthusiastic jug-wine drinker, will eat anything, dead or alive, after a few sips of the grape.

I must have been crazy to think I could restore the ambiance of a traditional sit-down dinner, complete with a Butterball turkey, giblet gravy, dressing made from scratch, yams and football games. Duh.

At 4 p.m., I announced that dinner would be fashionably late. This paved the way for Lucifer’s children to entertain everyone by repeating the expletives I had uttered to the Butterball hotline after I discovered my turkey was harder than last year’s leftover Halloween candied corn, the same candy I tried to trick this year’s trick-or-treaters.

While they gleefully shared videos of my less-than-ladylike behavior taken with their cellphones, I tried to drown them out by playing a tape of my son’s bass drum recital at age eight. I was hoping to muffle the sounds of my frozen turkey as it bounced around in the clothes dryer.

Before we sat down for dinner, I suggested, in the spirit of harmony, that the children might like to sit at a separate table. In a separate room. Next door. I was voted down.

Appreciative onlookers applauding a perfectly carved, golden brown turkey might be a Norman Rockwell sight for some, but it doesn’t mean squat to Babe. He doesn’t carve; he chops. With that in mind, I thought a discreet turkey-chopping ceremony in the kitchen might be wise. No way did I want anyone to witness him hacking up that turkey as if he were auditioning for the Saw III movie.

But when everyone at the table started looking like refugees, my son told his small, unsuspecting children to go in there and whack some speed into their grandfather.

“Stop!” I yelled. “Babe is battling an unarmed turkey with a Ginsu knife. Trust me. This is not something you want your children to see.”

My youngest grandson happily chomped his fourth bowl of Cocoa Puffs, making mmm-mmm sounds while the rest of us began to rethink cold cereal as a viable alternative to turkey and yams.

It will forever remain a mystery to me why someone would prefer chickpeas to drumsticks, but in deference to the vegan, I had sculpted a small turkey out of tofu using colored toothpicks for the feathers. After brushing it with egg whites, I baked it to a golden glow. When I presented the creation, instead of the appreciation I felt I deserved, I was greeted with howls of laughter and much name-calling. Apparently, positive reinforcement is an easily withheld commodity in my family.

For dessert, I cheated. Instead of the four different desserts I might have made had the turkey thawed like it should have, I popped a Mrs. Paul’s pumpkin pie into the oven. When it came out, I put Cool Whip and M&M’s on top, the latter addition being another creative surge from the oldest grandson from hell.

There could have been coffee. I can’t say for sure because I seized what was left of the wine, closed myself up in a closet and drank that jug dry as Tom Turkey’s carcass.

Babe and I have much to be thankful for, but those disappearing taillights? Well, let’s just say those taillights took thankfulness to a whole new level.

Family 250rgbCappy Hall Rearick is a syndicated newspaper columnist, award-winning short-story writer and author of six published books and five successful columns. Featured by the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop as a Humor Writer of the Month, Rearick’s humor and short fiction have been read and enjoyed in anthologies throughout the country.

Again, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Family.” The book is filled with 60 funny stories that confirm families aren’t always perfect! Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/1uWdwES) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/11HEQLy).

To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.