Let’s flashback to the Velvet family Thanksgiving of 2003. I was living in Rockville. The family lives in Connecticut. It was my plan to wake up early Thanksgiving morning and drive home. That plan, like any other I could have come up with, was foiled by insane traffic. I spent 7 miserable stop-and-go hours in the car to get “home” for a trip that should have taken no more than 4 and 1/2 hours.
I arrived and started unloading my car, filled mostly with old blankets and such that my mother asked me to bring for the church donation to the homeless. Since I had recently broken up with my ex, I was drowning in extra blankets that he never came to retrieve. I ring the doorbell, there’s no answer. I call the house phone, no answer. I call my parent’s cell phone. I hear, “Oh, Hi honey.” I say, “Mom, where ARE you? I’m standing outside the house.” She says, “We’re at CVS because your father wanted to buy (she diverges into a whole list I care nothing about) and we’ll be home in a few minutes.”
As I sit there, outside, I’m stewing. Every minute that goes by I get more and more pissed off. Sammy (the love of my life) is running wild in the neighborhood and craps on someone’s well-manicured hoity toity front lawn. Now, I am that dog owner who ALWAYS picks it up. I crawl into bushes, use holey bags if I have to, grab it when there’s a blizzard – I ALWAYS pick up. (I hate litterers.) But there I am, steaming like Sammy’s poop, standing in my parent’s driveway, and I have no intention of picking up his crap.
So they finally pull around the corner, go into the driveway, right into the garage and my mom, dad and brother get out, look at me, say hi, and all walk into the house. I seriously thought I must be on Candid Camera. I grab one load of my stuff and walk into the house. My mother is at the kitchen sink washing something, my brother is stuffing a candy bar in his mouth and my father says in passing, “Hey, why didn’t you just use your key?” Then I say what no one has admitted out loud in my house for years: “BECAUSE MY KEY MYSTERIOUSLY STOPPED WORKING WHEN I MOVED IN WITH MY EX-BOYFRIEND AND I CAN ONLY ASSUME YOU CHANGED THE LOCKS IN YOUR PETTY WAY OF GETTING BACK AT ME.” They are all looking at each other, but no one can even bother to answer me.
I ask my brother to help me unload. He says ok, then promptly goes upstairs to his room. (I’m part of a very selfish family.) Finally the princess reappears from his room and helps with the last of the blankets. He grumbles that I have a lot of stuff. I retort, “Most of this is for Mom so she can show up at the church with all these blankets for the homeless donation.”
We sit down to dinner. Mom has scaled back the normal 7-10 various dishes down to four this particular year. The turkey, obviously. Stuffing (which is normally brown rice with apples, raisins and chunks of link sausage,) peas, and cranberry sauce. I am a vegetarian. There is nothing for me to eat. I’m not so psycho that I couldn’t pick around the sausage in the stuffing, but this year, the first in my 30 years of Thanksgiving with this family, the sausage is mysteriously ground and pulverized throughout the stuffing.
When I inquire about this sudden change, as it seems like a lot of work to ground sausage for a woman who barely likes to cook anyway, my mother says, “I put it in the microwave, it must have gotten ground up. Besides, who knows what you’re eating. You always change your mind, I can’t keep track.” Have you ever heard anything so fucking ridiculous? Yes, sausage links that have been cut up in to three or four pieces in years past are now subject to being smashed and ground by spending some time in the microwave. I’m no expert cook, and I don’t cook meat at all, obviously, but even I know this could never, in thousands of years, be possible. And I’ve not eaten meat since I was a little kid and they used to force me to eat it. Granted it was maybe 8 years ago that I gave up chicken and turkey, but I’ve never eaten beef or pork. The fact that my mother acts like this is all new to her is one of her games – I swear that sausage was pulverized in the rice on purpose. They all kept insisting that I just “have some and a little sausage won’t hurt me.” Duh. I know this. But it’s a lifestyle choice and a health choice. (Thank goodness I am not a lesbian. Could you imagine? “Velvet, can you not be a rugmuncher this weekend? It just doesn’t work in my schedule.”)
I ask what else there is to eat. At my parent’s house, it’s always the same: a bunch of unrecognizable things in the freezer that may or may not be older than I am, and chocolate in the pantry. They never have any food there. My brother tells me there might be a frozen pizza in the refrigerator. Great. Seven hours of driving to be locked out of a house I no longer have a key to, to spend time with a family who could care less that I even came home. And with that I said, “I’m never coming home for Thanksgiving again.”
Last year, I went to Italy. This year, I had a plan in the works to go back to Europe. But then I had to go and read my stupid horoscope in Bazaar (arguably the best Fashion Mag on the market,) and it said “Don’t ask for any time off at the holidays or your co-workers will resent it.” Who am I to argue with that? And frankly, it’s true. I’ve really milked the vacation bandwagon this year. It’s time to behave.
So, dear readers. I will be here this Thanksgiving. If anyone wants to go out and get some drinky-poos, I will be happy to oblige. Unless I don’t know you. Then, I don’t want to go out with you.