Nothing is ever typical when it comes to my family. By this I mean, when I'm visiting friend's homes during the holidays, watching family programming on the basic cable network, or looking around at the way other people interact at the grocery in preparation to Thanksgiving, all things point in a much different direction. Does this bother me? No, not so much, because it's all that I've ever known. It's all that my children will ever know, god forbid that I ever procreate. What this does for me rather, is it provides me with a skewed point of reference, as well as a plethora of ammunition as an edgy story teller and writer.
Growing up, my father worked every single holiday that his company would allow him because he wanted the overtime. He works for a local grocery chain as the manager of his location's meat department, and has done so my entire life, so if you can imagine my mother trying to put a definitive time on Thanksgiving dinner on that last Thursday of November each year, then you're better than I. Year after year this meal was never held at the same time in our family's home, so my brother and I would improvise to try to entertain ourselves accordingly. When we were in our teens we snuck off so that our mother wouldn't catch us smoking large amounts of grass, and then zone out in front of the television until my father arrived. Mom would notice our red eyes and threaten to kick both or our asses as she pulled back her hand and acted as if she was going to rack us upside the head with a swift one. My brother and I would laugh and tell her that she had it all wrong, and she'd throw her hands in the air as she exited the room, making her way back toward the kitchen. As we've gotten older our social vice for entertainment purposes has become alcohol, so generally, I'll pick my brother up during the late morning and peer-pressure him into drinking his first beer before breakfast or his shower. Mom jumps our ass about that as well, but that comes with fewer backhand threats.
When my father arrives, he comes thru the door bearing the stories of his workday. His sarcastic humor, flatulence at the dinner table, and racy as well as inappropriate word choice set the tone of our conversation. And as I said before, it's all I've ever known, so we eat as my father starts the momentum, and then it just gets worse from there. My brother works for a plumbing supply company and follows up with a story about his workweek, and it's equally as inappropriate. Then it's my turn, and therefore, I have to keep the momentum going, so I pull the worst joke out of my arsenal or the most terribly offensive story that I can remember from my prior week's interactions. This goes on for a while as the four of us attentively listen and laugh until my mother has either had enough of the filth at the dinner table or has been utterly and completely grossed out. Then the stories will slow, we'll eat for a short period of time, and then the silence will be broken, and normally it's broken as someone cracks a cheek and expresses their compliments to the chef. At which point, my father will ask if the culprit needs to be excused to the restroom so that they can properly clean up. I cherish such times.
Regardless of how your family spends the holidays, or how you've come to know these times together, even if they're not how the wholesome television families portray, at least you're still spending them together. And though my family's Thanksgiving celebration is much different from most of my friend's, it's always mine that my friend's are trying to crash because of such randomness. No matter the case, whether it be one such as mine, or one that is far different, enjoy your times together, and live in the moment because life is very uncertain, and we want to make sure that the ones around us know how much they mean to us. Be safe Louisville during these upcoming holidays, and most importantly, enjoy yourselves.
Photo courtesy of Damian Gerlach
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