We went to Parsons for Thanksgiving 2016. We left the house about 8:00; there was one pit stop for gas, the bathroom, and coffee in Garnett; and we arrived by 10:30.
We didn’t wear our safety pins. My mom and dad weren’t watching FOX News, instead Home and Garden Television and Forest Gump were on. I could tell that we had called a mutual truce.
My mom had saved the innards of the turkey for me. I pulled some of the meat off the neck, I saved the liver, but I shunned the heart and the gizzard.
She mentioned that when she was a girl, grandma would pull out the gizzard from the chickens. The gizzard is a muscular sack in a chicken’s throat that holds grains of sand, the grist. It is where the chicken does its chewing. Grandma had to be careful. If the gizzard gets cut open, the little grains of sand go everywhere. They are hard to clean up.
I asked about the rabbits they raised, “Did they ever eat the rabbits?”
Yes. Grandma raised chickens forever, but the rabbits started with Snowball, a little white rabbit that my mom got from the neighbors. They didn’t eat Snowball, but they bred Snowball with other rabbits. “And it was fun to see what you would get.” They had black and brown rabbits. “And sometimes they would have spots or be tan.” They sold some of the rabbits at Easter for pets, and they sold others for meat. And they ate some of them.
When I was running with Tad the next day, he remarked, “Rabbits. Pets or meat,” which is a reference to Roger and Me by Michael Moore. Michael was interviewing a family that raised rabbits for “Pets or meat.” At least, that’s what the sign said. It was hard times in Flint, Michigan, after the General Motors plant shut down. I thought Tad said, “Pets are meat,” which was odd, but true. I’ve never had a rabbit for a pet, but I’ve eaten some. It was a while before we got that sorted out.
I also remarked that I was not looking forward to Hawaii for Chirstmas, that I would be stressed out from Melanie’s family and we would be eating lots and lots of good food. I didn’t mention that I would be drinking, too, but I was thinking about it. He scoffed at me. And he’s right.
For Thanksgiving, I have been fixing my mom’s yeast rolls. They take some attention, but they are pretty easy once you get the hang of it. You just need to plan ahead. The first batch of sixteen rolls was ready at 12:15. The gravy was the last thing to be ready, and it was weak. Not worth the fifteen minute wait. I had a roll and a piece of turkey while I waited. I started the second batch of rolls when we called everyone to the table, and it was ready ten minutes into dinner. They were hot. There were plenty of rolls left over.
During the blessing, my dad thanked our Father in Heaven for leading our fore-fathers to this new country, the New Israel. Then there was something about freedom. Amen. Israel was Jacob’s name after he wrestled with God. Jacob was the one who held on to Esau’s heel; Jacob was the usurper, who bartered a bowl of soup for a birthright. Israel (Jacob) had twelve sons, but he really loved only one of them. What a mixed message. I wonder if he meant the New Jerusalem (Yrw Shalom), the new foundation or city of peace, the new Peacable Kingdom.
During dinner, there was an exchange of jokes. My dad shared a riddle from Tin Cup. “A boy is out driving with his dad, and there is an accident. It’s a small town, so they are taken to two different hospitals. When the doctor comes in, the doctor says, ‘I can’t operate on this boy! He’s my son!’ How can this be?” And before I really had a chance to think about it, Baird, without skipping a beat, says, “The doctor is his mom.”
You see, it’s a riddle to break (or entertain) the misogynist mind. Later, talking about it, Melanie shared that when she first heard it as a girl it stumped her; and then, being stumped pissed her off because she was a feminist. I didn’t get a chance to be really stumped; before I could think about it, Baird had answered. I was thinking, “Doesn’t the kid have two parents?” But I hadn’t figured out how that was a riddle.
As I washed the dishes after Thanksgiving dinner, mom asked me if I remembered snitching apples from the counter top when I was a boy. I do, but maybe only because she reminds me of it every year. In those days, I pretended to be a mouse, and I would crawl into the corner cabinet and hide there. I would sneak out to grab a slice of apple; she had the grace to not notice me and to remark on the disappearing apples. “Is there a mouse in the house?”
She said, “I thought I would need a daughter to help in the kitchen, but I never did.” And she said, “You have always been interested in food. You always wanted to know where it came from, how to grow it, how to prepare it.”
My mom’s brother, Bob, who is five years older than her, is suffering with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Five years older makes him eighty-one years old. My mom is not drinking coffee anymore because the caffeine causes her heartburn to flare up. “It is no fun.” And she can’t eat acidic foods, like tomatoes. And my dad is not doing a good job of staying away from sugar, bread, or carbohydrates. I suggested that he start running; he said, as he has said before, “My knees. They’re killing me.” But he is eating plenty of plain almonds, which have virtually no sugar in them nor sodium.
I plan to keep running to keep the Diabetes at bay, but I don’t think I can run from Alzheimer’s forever. I hope I can keep on drinking coffee, at least until I am eighty. I’m not worried about my knees, but I am doing step-ups to keep them strong and stable.
After the kitchen was cleaned up and the pots and pans were washed, we had apple pie and pumpkin pie. Cool Whip was available for those who wanted it. My mom likes it, and Ky and I do, too. My dad says it “ruins” the pie.
We split the left-overs, taking ours home in zippy bags.
We did not stay long. We were on the road by 3:15 and home by 5:30.