For some of you, Thanksgiving this year will be a sad and lonely affair. You won't be able to gather with immediate and extended family to swap memories and argue over who makes the best pie crust. Your best friends won't be showing up with wine to accompany your turkey.
My husband and I are a bit luckier. Even without the pandemic raging, few folks within driving range really want us at their tables. Even when we don't talk about politics, it hangs like a pall over the bird and pig and my mother's unbeatable crescent rolls. Ridiculous assumptions have long been made that I'm some sort of commie pinko because of my chosen career path.
As I've explained before, journalists are no more popular among my extended family than used car salesmen or attorneys, although those are tolerated if they're registered Republican. It is impossible for a media person to be a Republican, they claim. I beg to differ, because the vast majority of newspaper publishers I know are at least conservative, if not registered with the GOP. But try telling this to someone who has consumed the Kool-Aid – which seems to be easier to come by than ever during this pandemic, although toilet paper is often in short supply.
In case you're thinking I blame President Trump for this pariah status, I don't. This was going on even before he was doing his faux firing of folks on his reality TV show. In fact, back then, Trump would not have been welcome at the family dinner table due to his crass behavior and his questionable morals, based upon his boasting of sexual conquests, his ostentatious lifestyle, and his divorces. Everyone is entitled to one marital mistake, it was whispered among the family, but more than that calls into question a person's judgment.
My, how times have changed. I'm still not eagerly sought after for get-togethers, but Mr. Trump would be welcomed with open arms, open wallets, and an open liquor cabinet. At least, by those who admit they have liquor cabinets. Everyone in my family at least started out as teetotaling Southern Baptist, and though some have wandered into other evangelical congregations (or in my appalling case, into Catholicism), the vials of grape juice don't fall far from the pulpit. We do have a growing contingent of atheists among the lot, but the purportedly hell-bound bunch is another story.
Several years back, we tried to make it work. My Aunt Pauletta normally hosts these affairs, mostly because she's always had the largest and fanciest house, along with several animals to occupy the time of anyone who gets bored – but possibly because my Uncle Chuck carves a mean turkey. More than a decade ago, I said my family would show up, if we could agree not to discuss politics and thus avoid becoming the target of insults as had happened previously. My aunt felt that the old adage of "my house, my rules" should apply, so that attempt fizzled.
She might be softening up. Although my aunt unfriended me on Facebook back in 2011 for insulting the distastrous state superintendent that former State Rep. Mike Brown used to call "Janet Barresi, Dee-Dee-Ess," I still communicate with her occasionally through the cousins. Fairly recently, she told me she may set down the law against political conversations, and no one had better cross her. But I understand that with COVID infesting the globe, they've called off this year's event. Again, I'm being presumptuous thinking I might have been invited, but the pickings are getting pretty slim, and at least I'm not an atheist.
Most years since 2005, my husband and I have enjoyed a quiet Thanksgiving at our home, with just my son. Sometimes one of my husband's fraternity brothers shows up. And last year, we even had four other friends over, although the pandemic has made that impossible. But still, it won't be much out of the ordinary next week, when it'll just be my husband, son and me.
I'll make the same favorite dishes I always have. In the past, the chosen meat was ham, but in recent years my husband has discovered that if he brines it first, he rather likes turkey – even the normally too-dry white meat. So he'll smoke the bird after spicing it up and wrapping it in pancetta. Along for the ride will be my mother's recipes for sweet potato pie, and five-bean salad – I've never been able to duplicate the rolls – and my own ambrosia, along with a first attempt at low-carb stuffing. Chris and Cole choose the dessert, and this year, it will be coconut cream pie.
Afterward, although we will be as full as ticks on a particularly lazy dog, I'll force my son to put up the Christmas tree. First, the floor will have to be vacuumed, which means this weekend, my husband will have to take apart the vacuum clearn to figure out what's making that awful racket. And we will watch, for the first time of several during the season, "A Christmas Story." Mercifully, there will be no Black Friday shopping to look forward to. Leftovers will be bagged and tagged, most of them sent on their merry way back to Oklahoma City with Cole. Especially the pie; we don't need that carby concoction malingering.
Oh, and back to that argument over who makes the best pie crust? I do. I'm also the best writer, and the most tolerant of people whose views don't match my own. Hey, but who's counting. To those of you with gatherings large and small, I wish you the happiest Thanksgiving you can muster, and advise you to stay off the scales.