5 - thanksgiving

Reflecting on a childhood thanksgiving dinner with the family.

With four smoke-stained cream walls staring me down from the shadows, I sat on the thin basement carpet and basked in the cold light of a static-plagued black and white television. I itched at the collar of my dress shirt. The other handful of kids populating the scratchy carpet occasionally made similar efforts, all of us dressed in our uncomfortable Sunday best. The bitter autumn wind pressed its hungry mouth up to the single tiny window and let out a slow breath. The rattling was audible, even above the din of adults laughing and clinking glasses upstairs. I’ve never seen a house as deep into the woods as my Grandmother’s. It always takes us half an hour to slowly work our way over the bumpy dirt roads. I always enjoyed the trip back out. Long after the sun has set, the car rocked me to sleep, the bright headlights illuminating the forest before us, the gentle hum of the portable cassette player in my lap.

One of our mothers called us from atop the stairs. Dinner was ready. My eldest cousin hopped up off of her stomach and twisted the volume knob on the television until it clicked off. A Walk to Remember popped into black silence, and the basement was suddenly altogether too dark. With the uneven pattering of a dozen little feet nervously racing up the stairs, we reached the warm light of the hallway. Our parents were already circling around the table where the food was arranged, slapping down servings on their own large china plates.

Personally, I dislike the bland taste of turkey; I dislike the obnoxious, mucus coloured stuffing; I dislike the runny gravy; I dislike the pasty taste of mashed potatoes; I dislike thanksgiving altogether. After fetching my own little paper plate I decorate it with a dinner roll and a few leaves of lettuce. As I made my way to the dinner table with the other children, my dad halts me to inspect my plate. As usual, my organized plate is snatched from my hands and polluted with a large slice of turkey and a pile of stuffing. Unable to help the slightest wrinkling of my nose, I thanked my dad and returned along my path towards the table. Hands joined, a prayer is said and everyone begins to eat.

A few of my relatives scraped utensils across plates as they ate. Some chewed with mouths open. I lowered my head and began the task of eating. I exiled the turkey and stuffing away from my lettuce with a plastic knife and began consuming the wet, green leaves. Distracted occasionally by paltry conversation with a relative asking vague questions about my schoolwork, I finished what I’d selected to eat in a matter of minutes. Unable to flee the table and brush off the sordid remainder, I slowly sawed away at a slab of turkey. Piercing the tough flesh of the slice I had isolated, I lifted it. A thin, stringy strip of the meat was still connected despite my committed knife work, causing the slab to upend itself. Extruding from of the underside of the slab sat a fat, hairy toe with a yellowing, broken nail. Not stuck in the meat, but simply a part of it as if it had never belonged anywhere else. I slowly slid my chair back from the table and excused myself.

do you believe in x
Monday October 13rd, 2008

Note: Please excuse my absence during the prior week. I died of alcohol poisoning on the 4th.

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