Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Not too norman rockwell

Thanksgiving Day is coming

And Mr. Turkey said,

“If I don’t be real careful,

I will lose my head.”

The pumpkin heard the turkey.

The pumpkin said, “Oh my!

“They’ll mix me up with sugar and spice

“And I’ll be a pumpkin pie.”

A long time ago we used to sing with my dad that song complete with hand motions acting out the cutting off the head, the mixing of the sugar and spice and the eating of the pie. I can still see my dad’s facial expressions and hear his voice perfectly as he sang the song again and again until we’d learned everything. I still have no idea how or where he learned the song, but I loved it because it was the only Thanksgiving song I’d ever heard.

This year I taught it to Audrey, and it’s brought memories of those Thanksgivings when my family was complete flooding back.

Family was always important to us. Because we moved around so much, we were all we had. So no matter if it was just the six of us or a mix of aunts, cousins and strays, we valued the time together. My dad prided himself on cooking the Thanksgiving meal, and he always appointed me his helper, and I was always excited to oblige, because I thought this year would be different. It never was. Being the helper meant watching him pour nutmeg or cinnamon into his pumpkin pie mixture and listening as he extolled the spicing qualities of each and lauded his abilities to make each pumpkin pie the best he’d ever tasted and being the helper meant fetching three eggs from the fridge, handing him that bowl and most importantly of all – cleaning up after him. But I looked forward to it all even though my eyes would glaze over when he would theatrically sprinkle nuts into his fruit salad or baste the turkey with gusto. He was just dad.

Nowadays our family is very different. It has been eight and a half years since he was pulled from the house by police bearing a restraining order. See, beneath that fatherly father exterior lurked a lot of bad. I tried to stay in touch because I was the oldest and I felt bad for him. I couldn’t imagine one day having a beautiful family and four children and then next spending all of your holidays on your own. But the burden was too much for me to bear. I had to cut him off, so now he is out there somewhere with a new name and no job, avoiding child support like the plague and stalking my silly siblings on their silly MySpace pages with their silly real names plastered all over the things.

So tomorrow as I make the fruit salad, I won’t be able to help but throw a little theatrics into the way I sprinkle the nuts into the bowl, but I think I’ll let my little helper Audrey stir them in. And I’ll tell her about how I used to help her granddad just like she is helping me, and I’ll think of him and hope wherever he is and whomever he is with that he is well.

He won’t be the only one missing from our Thanksgiving this year. The grudge brother has yet again rejected a family event invitation because I will be there.

Yes, he hates me and has for a while, though it started with his girlfriend and I have no idea the cause now. It’s all in old blog entries that I’ll repost someday soon, but for now I’ll just say that I wrote something, they didn’t like it, didn’t like my apology and now they won’t speak to me. What I did wasn’t unforgiveable…that is unless you are the best grudge grudge keeper in the whole grudge grudge keeping society in this grudge grudge keeping world, which his girlfriend is. Her avoidance of her own sister ended, so it was only natural that she start something with his sister to sort of keep the grudge ball rolling as it were.

When my little brother, Red, came to town just after my birthday in July, I tried to fix it then, but they refused to come to the big family dinner, where even my uncle from California had come to, because I was to be there. Oh how I cried. Buckets. You don’t know how many. And I keep saying that I am going to wash my hands of them. I keep trying to convince myself that I don’t need them in my life. Because you know he did some REALLY bad stuff to me.

Like when Sam knowing of our relationship issues called Big for advice on the whole “try to take Audrey from her mother” bright idea, Big was more than willing to tell Sam that was a great idea. Blood is thicker than...My ass! Big knew before what Sam was planning to do, and he didn’t tell a soul. And then he did not acknowledge that Oliver existed after he was born, and he never was sent any sympathies or acknowledgements after Oliver died, even though he was at my mother’s house when I called her with the news. His nephew died tragically, and even that did not budge him from his grudge keeping grudge-full ways. At first I thought it was because of what I wrote, and then I thought it was because he wasn’t too sure about Steve because of everything that happened before we went to London together, and now? I have no clue, because nothing is bad enough to ignore your sister when she loses her child, is it?

Everyone keeps calling me up now to ask about the whole thing. I tell them if they want it over, they should boycott Big. That’s my honest opinion. If you want avoid family events, well then you shouldn’t get to have clandestine other events to avoid spending time with your sister. My mom says that at this point they just think it’s too awkward to be around me and that his girlfriend has gained a lot of weight and doesn’t want to be around a skinny minny. What? Am I supposed to apologize now for not sitting around porking out on God knows what? Argh!

Part of me thinks that I should just forget him like he’s forgotten me, but I can’t. I keep thinking back to those Thanksgiving dinners of yore. I see him standing next to me as we sing the Thanksgiving song with my dad and I can hear his little voice. I see us all sitting around the dinner table – a dozen different ones all over the country and world – and we’re together.

We’re not the same people anymore, but we’re still family. My dad may be somewhere out there, but my brother, he’s one mile from me.

What would you do if you were me?

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and may your lives be much less Jerry Springer than mine. Kiss your nieces and nephew, your sons and daughters, and never let the petty things keep you from the ones that love you. Maybe I’ll call him just one more time.