Happy Thanksgiving! And if you aren't celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope you have a lovely Thursday!
It's the day before Thanksgiving Break, and they're on dinner duty this year. She's parked in front of Illana's school, writing out a grocery list of all she still needs for tomorrow, when the back door opens and her daughter hops in, throwing her back pack onto the seat next to her.
"Here," she says, handing Bethany a paint-splattered paper, folded in half like a card. "I made you a Thanksgiving card in Art today. Got one for Mary and Rab, too, and an extra that Rufus and Poppy can take back with them tomorrow if he has time. We made them by smearing our hand in paint – it was all squishy and messy and super fun, can we finger paint sometime at home, too? – and then pressing it against the front of the paper. Most of the kids only used one color but I used more – orange and brown and then I added a bit of white later – because turkeys aren't just brown, they're all sorts of colors."
"Anyway," she continues, "after the paint had dried, our teacher had all these circles and shapes like a turkey head cut out of construction paper that we glued over the top of our hand-print, all in different colors. Yours is orange, Mom, and Rab and Mary will get the brown one and Poppy gets the red – and then when we finished, it looked like a turkey! With our hand prints as the tail feathers, all spread out and stuff. Then we got to decorate the rest of the card with these sponges that were cut into the shapes of different leaves that we dipped into paint and then stamped all over the rest of the card – there's three right there, on the front, but most of them are inside and I added one or two on the back, too. I wanted more purple leaves, but Zoe was hogging all the red paint so I just made a bunch of blue leaves instead."
"Aww, thank you, sweetie!" Bethany holds up the card, admiring it. "This is totally the best turkey ever and I'm sure everyone else will love theirs as well. I like that leaf best," she says, pointing to a blue one in the corner on the inside that Illana had cleverly colored over with red marker to make a quasi-purple. She refolds the page and tucks it safely away into the glove box so it doesn't get crumpled. "We're headed to the Candle now to pick up another turkey- -"
Illana's snicker cuts her off mid-sentence. "I'm telling Rab you called him a turkey," she grins.
Bethany glares at her offspring in the rearview mirror as she pulls away from the curb. "Ha, ha, very funny," she retorts. "I meant our dinner for tomorrow, the raw, naked turkey that has been thawing in his fridge for the last 36 hours, Imp," Illana giggles again, and Bethany gives her another Look before directing her attention back to the road. "Anyway, you can give Rab and Mary their card when we pick it up. Unless you want to give it to them tomorrow."
"I'll give it to him today," her daughter agrees. "Then he can hang it up with the rest of his decorations. Can we have lemon meringue pie tomorrow? I wanna use the mixer!"
"As long as you promise to leave the tongs in the bowl while they're spinning this time, I don't see why not. Pie filling tastes much better when it is actually in the pie and not splattered all over the cupboards and ceiling," she tells her, turning into the newly expanded parking lot at the Candle.
"That was once, and I was only six!" Illana protests, now at the ripe old age of seven-and-a-half. "Now come on, let's get the turkey already. I'm hungry!"
"I'm telling Rab you called him a turkey," she mocks as they climb out of the car.
An indignant "Hey!" is her only reply, and Bethany walks through the doors of the restaurant triumphant.
Though Thanksgiving Dinner isn't planned to start until early afternoon, everyone starts showing up around 11:00 or so. Bethany is prepared for this, and has a table of munchies set up next to the window in the living room to tide everyone over until they sit down to eat. Brad and Rufus show up first, both of them actually being quite helpful in the kitchen before they get distracted by the Miami-Detroit game. When Rab and Mary arrive a little before noon, Mary takes about thirty seconds to arrange her one and only donation to the spread – some rather phenomenonal homemade cream puffs – on the dessert table before declaring herself off duty for the next 24 hours, grabbing a beer and plopping herself down on the couch with the boys to watch football. She yells at the refs a lot and gets louder and more obnoxious every time the Dolphins score a touchdown. The Packers aren't playing, but that doesn't stop Brad from shouting and getting obnoxious right along with her.
Rufus flees into the kitchen to help Bethany and Illana at half time, proclaiming loudly that "I am a gentleman who has evolved past the days when women were the ones slaving away in the kitchen doing all the dirty work while their old man sits on his ass in front of the fire contemplating his toenails!"
Brad's only reaction is to flip him off from where he leans forward in the Lazy Boy, not once looking up as he and Mary both continue to yell obscenities at the screen.
"So," Bethany asks, pouring green beans and Cream of Mushroom soup into a casserole dish, "I take it the Lions aren't doing so hot?"
"They are getting their butts handed to them," Rufus admits, mashing viciously at the hapless potatoes in front of him. "And Mary is taking entirely too much pleasure in pointing that out to me." Illana gives his arm a sympathetic pat from his other side, dumping some more potatoes into the pan for him to take his aggression out on.
When they all finally sit down to dinner an hour or so later, Rufus is still a bit grumpy about Detroit's loss and the mashed potatoes are light, creamy, and entirely lump-free.
Though he doesn't make it to dinner, Metatron does drop by after to mooch some dessert. It's a nice surprise – Bethany knows they get kind of busy up top this time of the year – even if he does take the last brownie.
"It's Thanksgiving," he replies when she mentions her surprise. "Early enough in the holiday season that no one is on the edge yet, ready to go postal due to an over-abundance of Holiday Bloody Cheer – and I mean that literally; two hundred thousand years of evolution, and it all goes down the toilet on Black Friday as you lot swarm from shop to shop like locust, consuming everything and everyone that gets in your way. Neither is it late enough that dwindling pocket books, skyrocketing debt, and excess greed brings out the very worst in everyone, sending many into a spiraling depression that, if they're lucky, might start to lift somewhere around February."
He pauses long enough to stare mournfully at the various bottles of wine sitting on the refreshment table, lets out a lofty sigh and pours himself some of the sparkling grape juice instead. "For now, though," he shrugs, "it's Thanksgiving. A holiday dedicated solely to eating far too much and being thankful for what we have. Everyone is so busy either basking in the warmth of family or going into a tryptophan coma that there aren't many left to cause trouble. Tomorrow is a different story, of course, but today... Today we get a little peace."
"And I," he adds, scooping up another piece of pumpkin pie and adding a huge dollop of whipped cream to the top, "intend to damn while enjoy it while it lasts. You should, too."
His bounty in hand, he turns to makes his way back to the rest of the family where they lay in various states of sprawl around the TV, taking turns yelling at the Buccaneers to get their ass back in the game. If there is only one thing her nearest and dearest can agree on when it comes to football, it's that they all hate the Dallas Cowboys with a passion.
She watches as Illana happily climbs into his lap as soon as he's seated, and she can't help but smile. She pauses only long enough to dishes herself up another slice of lemon meringue pie, adds a few cream puffs on the side, and goes to join them.