Friday, November 27, 2020

Thanksgiving Thoughts...

Good "the Aftermath" Friday Morning, y'all.
I trust everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving Day whether you had leftovers alone or a big blowout with family. It's gonna be a wet Friday and probably all weekend too!
Our quiet little Thanksgiving yesterday, gave me time to think about all the other big family gatherings we've enjoyed. It's not unlike most huge family get togethers on Thanksgiving.
My uncle would bring the family over from MidCity around ten or so. I met my two cousins as they drove up and escorted them into the house to greet everyone. My maternal grandfather, known to everyone who knew or worked with him as "Pops", had already brought his sister, who we only knew as "Nanaan" over earlier that morning. Accompanying them was the all important, oyster shells.
After being courteous and pretending to be in the way so we could get shooed away, we took off for the playing field of my front lawn.
The front lawn, you'd swear, was a full 100 yards long... it was so hard to score a touchdown. In truth, it was only about twenty by thirty feet long. If we made a great play on defense we were the Fearsome Foursome of the Los Angeles Rams or Ray Nitsche of the Green Bay Packers.
We were a host of great offensive players when we scored. Players like Paul Hornung, Bart Starr, Frank Gifford, and Jimmy Taylor were some of our favorites to emulate.
Jimmy Taylor was a favorite because he played his college ball as a fullback at LSU!
Every now and then, we'd call a timeout to check in on the food festivities. My uncle, with a large cup of coffee, pretty much ignored the goings on in the kitchen preferring to sit with our portable television tuned into whatever game was playing. Back then, the Cotton Bowl was first to grace the tube.
In the kitchen, squabbles were always present with my mom trying to referee the correct procedures for the perfect meat pie. Her mother, a big boned German/Italian would always try to win the hearts and tummies over my rather diminutive French aunt.
My Nanaan would have none of her guff!
One meat pie just wasn't enough for this hungry crowd, and my grandmother always argued over who's pie was the better of the two. When it got to how to prepare the oyster patties, Pops would eventually step in. Luckily, the women deferred to his "expertise!"
My mother tried to persuade her brother to turn the channel to the Macy’s Parade which always seemed wedged between bowl games.
It seemed to settle the women folk!
My cousins, Mark and Glenn and I would snatch something tasty off the huge makeshift dining room table and return to the playing field.
Eventually, we'd get called in to wash up for dinner. As was expected, our neatly combed hair, our Thanksgiving attire and our manners were left behind. Everything tasted as good as it looked.
No one seemed to be overly concerned that the oyster patties maybe needed a bit more salt and that some of them were "burned" at the bottom. My aunt, had very little to say about my grandmother's delectable baked macaroni, or creamy mash potatoes. There was always a bottle of chilled red wine though no one except Pop's and my uncle imbibed.
My father, having alcoholic parents, was a teetotaler all of his life and my mom only took a sip or two just to be social.
Pop's always made a thing about extracting the cranberry from the can intact. I always looked forward to his entertaining act. Until I moved to California, I thought that that was the only way to serve cranberry.
Pop's handled the turkey carving as well as the gravy. It seemed safer that way although the persnickety of a Frenchman showed if someone carved across the grain or if, worse than that, the carving knife... ANY knife was not sharp. Could've sworn he brought along his wet stone to dinners.
As kids, we never paid much attention to the adult conversation. I just remember my mother Marine's glaring stare if her children did not hold their utensils correctly or misbehaved in front of the family. This is from a woman who actually years later, on two occasions, initiated a food fight between me, Mark and Glenn.
That's a story for another time!
I don't believe me and my cousins hung around for dessert, but I loved to wait around to see Pops carve the skin off of a navel orange in one piece. I thought it was SO cool.
As an adult, I never could get that right. I guess my knives were never sharp enough.
Unless his wife, Aunt Vee, complained, Tony Pie, (that was his family moniker, and I never knew why!) would sit and watch football. In his high school days, he was a drum major at St. Aloyisus and I think, in the Marine Corp. Turns out, he loved watching the halftime shows when marching bands, not the gratuitous halftime shows of today, entertained the crowds.
But, as is often the case, when a woman casually walks behind a man in the middle of a conversation and touches his shoulders, it is a sign that she's had enough...
Never did like that part!
All in all, from a kid's perspective, it was a great day of being together. I hated to see them go, but I knew we'd see each other again... probably, Christmas.
Besides, there on TV, the day was not over. It was still daytime when teams played against each other for the PAC-10 title in Pasadena. And, there was turkey left for a sandwich or two!
First cup!

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