My sister and I were returning home staring out the car window as we traveled in shocked disbelief of the travesty that we had been subjected to for Thanksgiving dinner last night.
Please Darklings do not get me wrong, I love Holiday Dinners, I enjoy the good food, the wonderful scents, and the excellent camadre, the sharing of family stories and memories of long ago. I also love seeing the happy faces on the kiddies; I also love exchanging stories about the different events in each other's lives. But most of all I love sitting down to a wonderful dinner, inhaling the wonderful food scents, saying "Grace", Blessing the cooks and enjoying the wonderful flavors.
I know, how can an Elder/Elderly Goth who enjoys the Beauty of Darkness, enjoy being subjected to being around relatives, even dysfunctional ones, well Darklings, taking in the disasters that unfolds at these functions and writing them down later for further laughter and comment is always fun in a perverse, and slightly darkly evil way.
Especially when it can be shared between like thinking relatives and friends, but this time, This Time, even I and my sister could not believe what had happened.
We drove in silence, I at the wheel trying to suppress body shakes at the thoughts and memories that were running through my mind, I did not dare speak to my sister, who also sat bolt upright in staring silence; in the back seat was our niece bundled up in a blanket, she had complained of being cold, and she had the same look as we did.
Finally my sister spoke----“What was Monica thinking of???”
There--- it was out, spoken of and floating on the air……quietly Coralline spoke from the back seat and said “Grandma always cooks horribly; I always get sick if I eat at her house.”
I immediately asked her “Are you ill?” “No” she replied, “I just ate the bread and skipped the cheese. But I’m hungry.” We all were.
If my Brother and his wife’s home was invaded by 7 hungry blood hounds like in the movie "Christmas Story" I could understand, If the kitchen had caught on fire, I could understand, If the stove or the oven had blown up I could understand, if a water pipe broke and flooded the house, I could understand, if Hurricane Sandy decided to visit the West Coast I COULD UNDERSTAND!!
BUT FROZEN SUPERMARKET LASAGNA?????? And cheese only Lasagna at that---no meat, no guts to it. It was defrosted, it was cooked, but to say that it was tepid was being charitable at best, a solid block of cold cheese at worst---- dry garlic bread with melted cheese that was not even room temperature and the cheese had harden and was a solid slab that could be lifted off the bread, lettuce that was wilted ( and it wasn't even warm spinach salad which is suppose to be wilted) bottle Thousand Island dressing that looked dubious, water to drink, no soft drinks, no sparkling cider, and no dessert-----the only thing that was palatable was the coffee, it was hot and there was sugar but no cream or milk or even half and half.
No roasted veggies, or baked green bean casserole, no baked yams with brown sugar or tiny marshmallows melting on top, no olives for the kids to stick on their fingers, no sweet pickles or small white picked onions, heated rolls or soft butter to slather it with, no hot gravy, no hot dish to speak of, no apple, peach, pumpkin or berry pie, heated from the microwave, just wilted salad and hard bread and cold cheese lasagna and water.
There we were at the dinner table, we looked at each other and not at Monica’s tight lipped face or her Mother (Coralline’s Grandmother) who for some reason was smiling, my brother’s face was shocked, while his sons made little gagging motions that stopped when my brother gave them a stern look. My sister and I put our best faces on, ate a little to be polite and thinking that there were starving children in Haiti, the Congo and Bangladesh that would appreciate even this food. We had the coffee to warm our innards, politely chatted for a while, ignoring the hollow growling in our stomachs and then as soon as we could we thanked Monica for dinner, packed Coralline and her bag into the car as soon as we could with politeness, and drove the 45 minutes home in shocked silence.
My sister and I quickly glanced at each other and said again together "What was Monica thinking of ??"
I’ve never, ever served a dinner that bad, I mean I've burned the pot roast once or twice but it was saveable, I have burnt potatoes and vegetables on occasion I mean who hasn't but tepid Frozen Supermarket Cheese Lasagna for Thanksgiving Dinner has got to be the worst; even if you have to be tight with money because of difficult economic conditions at least the Lasagna could have been HOT!!
There is an old saying "Beauty cannot be eaten with a spoon" which means even if you are a beautiful woman you better be able to cook, because if you can't then the man in your life will starve, which in some countries there are men who look for women who not only are good looking but can cook, but if they are not too good looking if they can cook like a goddess who cares!!
Then it dawned on me, Coralline said she gets sick when she eats at Grandma’s house.
“Coralline” I asked, “Did your Grandmother make the dinner?” she answered yes, her mother had been called the day before to work in the morning because of a scheduling problem but she’d be free in the afternoon, Monica is a nurse at a local hospital.
That explained part of it, but what had happened?
Coralline explained further that her Grandmother always used up everything in her refrigerator or on the shelves “Even if it’s been in the freezer for months, I hate eating at her house.” She pitifully moaned.
“Do you brothers get sick?” My sister asked. “They just throw up and see how far they can toss their guts” our niece replied. “Do the boys tell your mother they get sick too?” I asked, “No, it’s just a game to them.” She said.
Oh no, we thought “Well, does your mother know you get sick?” we asked.
“Yeah but Grandma tells Mom I’ve got a tender stomach, that I can’t eat good food.”
“That is going to stop” said my sister and I agreed, but what to do for now??
My cell phone rang, my sister was holding it because I cannot talk and drive at the same time so Sis answered, it was Doyle who could not make it to the Dinner, he said he was home, he had picked up Belladonna from our neighbor’s house and was going to slice up some of the Turkey Breast that I cooked yesterday to heat it up for sandwiches and he’d see us when we got home.
That was IT!! I had forgotten about the Turkey Breast, I had baked yesterday because I knew that at my Brother’s house leftovers was rare event with 3 growing boys, so I told my sister to tell Doyle to slice up the entire Turkey Breast, put it back in the Refrigerator and to wait for us to get home before he ate, we were going to have a real Turkey Dinner, she relayed that to him and told him what had happened, he said he couldn’t wait to hear further the gruesome details and would take care of the turkey slicing.
My mind was racing furiously at what was in the pantry and I knew we could have a very nice dinner, and we did.
With all of us pulling together with the boxed and canned goods in the pantry it was wonderful; we had turkey with Stove Top Stuffing, instant mashed Yams, canned Asparagus spears with canned Hollandaise sauce, bottled chicken gravy, canned cranberry sauce, olives, sweet pickles, Jolly Green Giant frozen but defrosted and well heated string beans with a butter sauce, heat and serve rolls with Challenge butter, Martinellie’s Sparkling Cider and Sparkling Grape to drink as well as hot coffee with sugar and Hazelnut liquid creamer and Hot Chocolate for Coralline, followed by Mrs. Smith’s Dutch Apple Crunch pie that was baking in the oven as we ate dinner on our Great-Aunt’s beautiful China and silver service and listening to lovely Christmas Music on the Radio.
Granted nothing was home made but considering the situation it felt like a feast to us.
Doyle had prepared the fireplaces and lit candles in their silver holders in the Dinning Room and Family Parlor to make the atmosphere cheery. Although Coralline has eaten with us before, she had never seen the really good china or how sparkling the dinning room could be, a totally different impression upon her young mind.
We said “Grace” with special prayers for those who are suffering from disasters the world over or who are without homes and hungry, that they be safe and the Higher Power watch over them, knowing that at that moment we were blessed and fortunate, but during the dark days of Winter we need to think of and help those less fortunate.
Afterwards we retreated to the overstuffed chairs and couches to enjoy the after dinner crash as we planned on watching a family tradition, the Black and White version of “Miracle on 34th Street”.
But as we relaxed and re-capped the disaster from the day while Coralline’s head rested on my lap in sleepy repose and her unshod feet were kept warm on my sister’s lap we got a phone call from our sister-in-law who was very apologetic about the dinner.
She knew she had to go in to work the over night shift and would not be home Thanksgiving morning and so gave her Mother money and a list of items to buy for the dinner the day before and her Mother would prepare it, but when she finally got home just before we arrived her Mother told her everything was well in hand but it wasn’t until it was being served that she saw the disaster that developed.
Needless to say after we left she and her Mother had a verbal fight, with her Mother explaining that she saved Monica a lot of money by serving what her Mother had left over from her own kitchen.
Her sons’ finally told Monica how they always hurl after eating at Grandma’s but never told her about it. I said that it also explained why Coralline was always sick as well.
She asked how Coralline was and I told her what we had done and that her daughter was fine, over stuffed but fine.
Monica broke down in tears from her embarrassment, exhaustion from working the night before and the fight between her and her Mother. Her husband, our brother, was upset, she was exhausted from the long day and in dire need of sleep, the boys were hungry and there was hardly anything left in the kitchen, except T.V. dinners, I said that might be the only thing left to feed them, unless there was a Wal-Mart open for the early Black Friday sales, that is if she wanted to subject herself to such exhaustion. She said no, it was going to be T.V. dinners.
Needless to say Monica threw out what was left over in spite of her Mother’s objections and told her Mother that she was going to take her to a “shrink” and “get her head examined” and demanded the money back that she gave her. Her Mother said that she used it to pay bills---how could that be asked Monica, since she knew her Mother has a very healthy retirement pension that was not affected by the economy and told her that she was going to look into her Mother’s finances as well to see if she had been lying.
We could only commiserate with Monica about everything and soothed her feelings and I said (Oh did I open my mouth) that Christmas Dinner would be at my home, to expect the unexpected, that the food would be good, but she was going to have to keep the boys in line, no football in the house, nor play it on the T.V. or Radio, it was going to be a family gathering the old-fashion way, she assured me that she would clamp down on them.
We wished each other a good night and a promise to bring Coralline home Sunday evening.
After I hung up the phone Doyle and Marie looked at me and said “You’re doing Christmas Dinner??” “Why not?” said I, “It will show Monica’s Mother how to do a real Holiday Dinner. By the way…” I turned towards my sister “…do you think you can get Kitty Kat ready for Christmas?” and my sister fiendishly smiled at me.
And with that we watched the opening credit’s to “Miracle on 34th Street”, Doyle slowly fell into a comfortable slumber, my sister Marie with her feet raised on a foot stool and a slightly sleepy look on her face, Belladonna snuggled next to me and Coralline snoring and drooling on the pillow on my lap as our Thanksgiving Day came to an end.