It's Thanksgiving week, which means most families gather around a feast and express thanks for the many blessings they enjoy. So, going around the table and expressing your gratitude should be a slam dunk.
Except that this is my house, filled with my children, every one of whom has to do things differently.
It all began when our youngest, Nicole, decided this round robin should be alphabetical.
And that changed everything. Now, instead of heartfelt expressions of gratitude, the door is now open for her three older brothers to become raucous wise guys, making a mockery of the tradition, and coming up with the (dare I say stupidest?) things they can think of, and then arguing with their mouths full of mashed potatoes. Here's a snippet from the past:
“Asiatic Flu,” Cassidy says.
“Oh, come on,” I say, rolling my eyes. “Nobody is thankful for the flu.”
“Plus Asiatic is the adjective,” Richie points out. “You have to pick a noun.”
“Who says you have to pick a noun?” Bob says, the husband who chose himself, last year, for the letter B.
A short argument erupts, and suddenly we’re all grammar experts, establishing ridiculous rules. We are also car experts, apparently, as the boys proceed to express their thanks for Corvettes, Hot Rods (another adjective—oh no!), and some kind of engine booster.
When the letter G lands on Nicole, she tells us she’s thankful for Garlic Bread. “And how come we don’t have garlic bread on Thanksgiving?”
A discussion of other foods I should be willing to get up at 2:00 a.m. to prepare, now ensues. Fried rice, ice cream, carrot cake, cotton candy, and fried chicken are all agreed upon as if we hired circus clowns to revise the food pyramid.
I do my best to get them to think about gratitude, but all they can think of is comedy. Is this happening in other households across America? Probably not. Probably other families are expressing their thanks for one another, for shelter, for the joys of daily living.
Bob shamefully chooses urinals for U.
I stare at him. “You had all that time to think, calculating which letter would land on you, and you picked urinals?”
“Hey, they’re handy to have,” Bob says. Nicole and I are outvoted.
As we clear the dishes, I think about this free-for-all, the endless teasing and carping that has become our family’s tradition. I picture future spouses, married to our kids, with bug eyes as they witness this wacky debate each year.
I look at my grinning kids, who are still arguing over whether pneumonia can count for p, since the p is silent. Even though they drive me crazy sometimes, maybe this is our essence—the way we interact and love one another. Maybe that’s how our hearts are knit together, knowing we’ll always be passionately nutty, ever willing to debate the merits of proper versus common nouns.
But this year we have our first spouse-- Cassidy is bringing his adorable bride, Tiffany. I can only imagine what she's going to think. On the other hand, she's been married to this monkey boy for just over a year, so I think that's probably adequate preparation.
If I get the letter S this year, I'm going to say "Subscribers." Hey-- that's you! Tell your friends to sign up for Joniopolis, too. Why should you suffer alone?