Mixing it up 

A traditional Thanksgiving for us Assmunches this year.

Having donned our gay apparel (no, no, it's just a manner of speaking), we set the GPS to go over the river and through the wood to Grandmother's house. It didn't work, of course, but no prob because even in the pre-dawn dark the horse knew the way. Bells on his bobbed tail rang. Only once did we get into a drifted bank — I don't know … Metropolitan National? — and none of us got too upsot over that.

We arrived before sunup, eager to see what gifts the Great Turkey had brought to those of us who were deserving. It turned out that my stocking was filled with brown gravy and giblets, and candied yams with marshmallow.

This is highly prized Thanksgiving stocking stuffing — much preferred to the pickled wattles, figgy pudding, black-eyed peas and hog jowl — and I did my lords-a-leaping best to appear happy about it and thankful for it and to hide a shadow of disappointment. I mean that stocking was a saggy soggy mess, its contents almost unsuckoutable, even with the straw. And did they just have to dye the glop that pukey green color to honor the holiday saint, Patrick somebody?

Next was our usual Thanksgiving egg hunt. Leave some baskets with artificial grass in them lying around the house on Thanksgiving Eve and the Great Turkey will lay brightly colored eggs in them. (And you thought only rabbits laid eggs.) Thanksgiving morn the older folks gather up the eggs and hide them around house and grounds for the youngsters to scramble after. This allows the small fry to show off their developing skill at good old-fashioned American grabbing and snatching Laying claim to worthless gaudy stuff, not out of any real desire to possess it, but to beat somebody else out of it in case somebody else wants it — that's our forte as a people.

I hid most of my eggs around the Thanksgiving manger scene, and a big fancy Faberge-looking one, already rank, in the Thanksgiving jack-o-lantern. Our Thanksgiving jack-o-lantern is always carved to resemble the face of a favorite U.S. president — this year it was Rutherford B. Hayes — and we had a second one this year, with a carved panorama of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, the three original Thanksgiving ships. Our thanks again to the carver for his (or her?) artistry and ingenuity. Columbus standing on deck windblown and heroic, rendered recognizably in the tiniest sliver of pumpkin! Up in the crow's nest, pumpkinseed Mom in her kerchief and Pop in his cap!

Then around midmorning we gathered for the big parade that, as always, featured giant tethered cartoon-animal balloons pulled along behind humongous rose-themed floats with pretty girls and celebrities sitting atop them throwing candy to children costumed as goblins along the parade route. The reason they throw candy, I've heard, is that the costumed children have threatened to tump over their outhouses if they don't.

The Assmunch womenfolk wore frilly bonnets to the parade, and this made for such a grand sight that I wanted to write a Thanksgiving sonnet about it. But I didn't, for which you might want to get in on this thankfulness motif.

To conclude our parade, a ball dropped slowly from a great height to mark the second-by-second countdown from the old Nov. 26 to a brand spanking new Nov. 27. When the ball reaches one and then zero, everybody cheers, kisses, drinks a cocktail, makes some resolutions, and forgets their auld lang syne. Doesn't make much sense but it's best not to ask too many questions about the holiday lore. Especially the allegorical parts.

Post parade we were off to the cemetery to picnic memorially and to decorate the soldiers' graves as a way of thanking them for dying so we can be free. Then back to the Big House for the Thanksgiving Feast, at which it becomes clear why this holiday is also known as Fat Thursday, and is followed up by the 40-day fast.

In the afternoon, VFW gaffer ran his spangled beret up the flagpole to see who'd salute, then another speaker gave someone he called “the wicked Haman” a pretty hard time of it with a gragger, then a third wise man had a dream, and then we were kind to our web-footed friends, including the groundhog and the Festivus duck, at a climactic twilight fireworks show.

Thus the Assmunch Thanksgiving, 2009.

Before heading home, we were treated to a cup of kindness yet, some chestnuts roasted on an open fire, and some candy hearts inscribed with “Be mine” and other such romantic sentiments. Some pemmican, a gingerbread man. And we were thankful for all of it.

True thankfulness is the key to a successful Thanksgiving. The Great Pumpkin visits only sincere pumpkin patches, and the Great Turkey only thankful residences. Or shelters where famous people stoop to handing out plates of food to thankful homeless people. The famous people handing out this food nearly always appear that they'd rather by doing something else with people of their own station, most likely involving adult beverages and more comfortable shoes. They do it for the publicity, though, and they're thankful for the publicity.




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