Lumps! Bumps! Grumps!

By Mir
November 24, 2005

I hope that everyone had a grand Thanksgiving, filled with good food and merriment and most importantly, PIE.

Mmmmmm… pie.

I, myself, had a wonderful day. Oh, sure, there were a few little things I may have changed. But aren’t there always? In general the day was filled with all of the things I love the best. My children were ANGELIC and so I did spend some time searching for the pods from which they’d sprung, but after a day of food and play we returned home and they melted down and soon the cries of “SHE HIT ME IN THE EYE!” and “HE WALKED INTO MY FINGERS!” assured me that they were okay, after all.

This year was sort of different from last year.

First of all, welcome to New England. Here when they predict “up to an inch” of snow, that actually means HELLO, WE HAVE SIX INCHES OF SNOW FOR YOU. The children were bouncing off the walls from the time they woke up this morning, just because it’s the first snow of the season. They begged to bring snowgear and sleds to our friends’ house. That meant I had to find everything, which I eventually did.

Then I cleared the driveway, which took about six hours. Or six advil; I sort of lost track somewhere in there when I lost feeling in my extremities.

Back inside, I showered and dressed. I got the kids dressed in their coordinating outfits, because I am a gigantic dork and they are still little enough to tolerate this sort of foolishness. In a flash of BRILLIANCE I declared that now would be a great time to take their picture! For Christmas cards! Just sit by the fireplace for a minute! Okay!

[I didn’t even bother looking at the photos until this evening. I snapped six pictures. In two, Chickadee’s eyes are closed. In one, Monkey’s are closed. One is slanted in a funny way. One has Chickadee with her mouth so wide open all I can think of is Mary Poppins saying, “Close your mouth please, Michael. We are not a cod fish.” Three have such bad glare off of Chickadee’s glasses that I can’t even Photoshop them into something usable. In two Monkey has a hand waving wildly, blurred, and looking an awful lot like he’s about to take flight. And in my personal favorite, Monkey has his head turned in such a way that he looks simultaneously both like his neck has just snapped off his body AND like he’s about to take a large bite out of his sister’s shoulder.

Everyone? Merry Christmas. I don’t think I’m sending cards this year.]


We then loaded up the car. Food. Snow gear. Sleds. Children. Check! Go! Off we went. The roads were a mess. We slowly wound our way across town, slip-sliding along, while discussing how everyone should learn how to drive on snow as part of licensure. (Monkey, after every little swing of the back end: Wheeee! Do it again!)

Finally we arrived at our destination. Many jokes were made about my FAMOUS pecan pie! Woohoo! And the kids ran off to play and I set about helping in the kitchen. At some point in my frequent joining of these friends for Thanksgiving, I have been designated the official gravy master. I don’t know why. Actually, I do know why.

The first year, while a large, delicious turkey swimming in juices was being pulled out of the oven, someone took out… a JAR of gravy. I became hysterical.

And now? I am the gravy master. Laziness is never an excuse for gravy from a jar, people.

But the thing is, I’m not all that systematic about making gravy. Invariably I find myself holding wine in one hand and whisking madly with the other and praying to the thickening gods. And somehow, the gravy always ends up good. Do not ask me to teach you. I only know that it involves whisking. And wine. But I’m sort of like Goldilocks. One year I had to thin it. Several times I’ve made a last-ditch attempt to thicken at the eleventh hour and somehow pulled it out.

This year, I had a temporary attack of mental retardation and after adding roux countless times and it STILL wasn’t thickening as I wanted it to, I dumped cornstarch powder directly into the gravy. Powder. In the gravy.

Oh, would you like some gravy with your lumps?

I whisked and whisked and then I gave up and strained it. It was delicious, and I narrowly avoided the gravy walk of shame. Phew.

Dinner was marvelous, with Chickadee tucking away a variety of foods and Monkey consuming his body weight in crescent rolls. When we excused the children they all started struggling into their snow gear so that they could go out and sled. My friends have a small hill with quite a few trees on it, but their kids assured us it was no problem to steer down the hill. Okay. We told the oldest (my friends’ 10-year-old) to keep an eye on the others and sent them out.

Maybe 15 minutes had passed, and we adults had embarked on the never-ending task of moving dishes from table to counter to sink to dishwasher. Suddenly my friends’ daughter burst in through the garage door, declaring that her brother “really needed someone.” After a few moments of confusion where the father in question tried to extract more information while the mother in question immediately and correctly deduced there was injury afoot, there was a scuffle to locate and put on shoes. My friends seemed hampered by laces and missing footwear, and my Mama-senses were tingling and my boots were right by the door. I stepped into them and sprinted out to the hill.

Those trees on the hill are big. And sometimes they reach and and smack you in the knee REALLY HARD. Poor guy, he was trying so hard to be brave, especially since he was the oldest kid out there, but he’d taken a pretty hard hit to the kneecap. I managed to get him up and on his way back to the house by the time his folks made it outside. Later his mom told me that she was glad I was the first out, because it forced him to suck it up a bit.

As I walked back, I realized that I’d run out there on pure adrenaline, and now that I was coming down a bit my knees were LESS THAN PLEASED by my little sprint. (I am feeling TONS better already, but I’m still quite arthritic, especially in my knees.) Here is what my knees had to say, after that: OW OW OW OW.

Back inside, the patient was tended to by his mom and a plethora of ice packs. His grandmother and I fell to dishwashing in earnest. Meanwhile, Crazy Dad was trying to convince my friend’s husband that he really DID know Flower Drum Song. Of course he did! Surely he did! And to drive the point home, Crazy Dad starting singing “I Enjoy Being a Girl.” Now, I shouldn’t have said anything, I know. But when he stopped singing, I blurted out, “Sing it again!”

He told me to go to hell. Quite forcefully. Okay! Very festive. Fortunately, since I’m already aware that he’s crazy, it didn’t bother me too much.

Later on, while he tried to force us all to watch “The King and I,” I joked with my friend’s son (he of the knee injury) that Anna’s hoopskirted dress looked like an alien attack mushroom as it swung to and fro. I made accompanying sound effects under my breath, got him giggling, and burst into full-out laughter myself during a moment of dramatic tension when Anna declares she wishes she’d never ever come here. (“I wish! I’d! never! come here! Ahhhhh!”) This earned a second scathing admonition: “You have a bizarre sense of humor! You laugh at inappropriate times!”

Well, yes. If by “inappropriate” you mean “ever,” then sure. Shortly thereafter he became so incensed that he got up and left. Shortly thereafter that, we all relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the evening. And I learned an important lesson. Do not ask a cranky man to tell you that he enjoys being a girl, or in any way suggest that his beloved movie is anything less than cutting edge entertainment. It leads to your hostess apologizing for her father being a nutbar while you apologize to the hostess for having unwittingly provoked him and continues in an endless cycle until you decide the only way to defuse the situation is with more pie.

Oh! We also played cards for a while. I won many mini highlighters in Scat (this is what happens when you can’t find the poker chips). By accident. But then Grammie kicked our asses in Whist. And took my highlighters. We are cardsharks, yo.

Excellent day. I am especially thankful that when my own dysfunctional family is unavailable, I have friends who will share theirs.


  1. DebR

    It sounds like a fabulicious day! Do you really play Whist? I only know of it from a long-ago addiction to Georgette Heyer stories, where it seemed like the characters always played Whist at some point, so I find that impressive, even if you lost your highlighters at it.

  2. Lisa

    Sounds like a wonderful day! Makes me miss the days of Thanksgiving with my extended family…

    And I think I figured outthe issue with my gravy yesterday. I must have not had enough wine! Yet…I still did NOT get my gravy out of a jar!

  3. elswhere

    But- didn’t Crazy Dad love your pie again this year? Or was that just not enough to offset his horror at you mockery of his favorite musicals?

    And as a lifelong Broadway-musicals nerd, can I add? Those are WEIRD favorite musicals, to say the least.(with apologies to all Flower Drum Song/King and I fans.)

  4. Kestralyn

    But remember, elswhere… he’s crazy! Just be glad he’s not addicted to Carnival (not Carousel which everybody knows…)!

    Sounds like a lovely evening. We had our usual eat too much fest at our friends’ place and included an Indian graduate student who hasn’t actually been to a Thanksgiving dinner before. We had to explain everything to her… very cute!

    Huzzah for cardshark Grammies!

  5. Kathy

    This photo session reminds me of my girlfriend’s Christmas cards last year – they were brilliant. I believe there were 4 pictures in all, cropped to about 2″x2″ each and put together to make a 4″x4″ square picture….in one the girls were sticking out their tongues, in another one of the girl’s had her skirt pulled up….you get the idea.

    The card read “sigh….maybe next year” then Happy holidays. You should try something like that – it was adorable!

  6. Cityslicker mom

    Love your blog! I’m enjoying reading it. Your blog design’s pretty awesome too.

  7. surcie

    I just read last year’s story. What a hoot.

    The pecan pie I’m “famous” for is from Williams-Sonoma. Peacan pie fillng in a jar. And it IS the best I’ve ever had. I’ve been making it for the past 3 years. But not this year! They ran out of the stuff weeks ago. If they ever stock it again, I’m going to buy every jar of it. Just like Seinfeld’s Elaine and her sponges. Not everyone will be “pie worthy.”

  8. Brenda

    This is why I prefer to go to the movies with the kids and then have pizza for dinner on Thanksgiving. I am always thankful for the peace, quiet and lack of dishwashing. Always the traditionalist!

    I think you should use the picture of the kids in their Halloween costumes. They were adorable!

  9. Theresa

    Well, overall, in addition to being the hero, seems as if you had a great day! Hope you have a great weekend too!

  10. Tammy

    What a great post! And I can oh so relate to the gravy….you and I certainly agree there…I think we might be gravy sisters! :)

  11. Kym

    You had me at Pie.

  12. Michele

    Your Thanksgiving was way cooler than mine. I should have reconsidered doing that striptease thing I heard about on the radio to spice things up.

    Oh – wait, that means people would be blogging about me. . .

  13. Shiz

    Rock on! I’m glad Mr. Crazy did not upset you much, because, HEY! CRAZY!
    And I am WITH you on the gravy. Gravy from a jar? Who ARE those people?

  14. Shiz

    Rock on! I’m glad Mr. Crazy did not upset you much, because, HEY! CRAZY!
    And I am WITH you on the gravy. Gravy from a jar? Who ARE those people?

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