It was in the moment we drunkenly crossed the road to pet a
total stranger’s dog when I knew this Thanksgiving would be a doozy. Ben, Emily, and I were waiting for the parade
to roll, and we needed something to occupy our time. We had already consumed all of the travel
champagne (in this case defined as the large tumblers of mimosa that we carried
in car cupholders), so it seemed entirely appropriate to pepper a random with
questions about his Great Dane (maybe it was a Boxer mix… champagne,
right). It was a beautiful specimen of
definitely not small) dog at any rate.
The booze had put Emily in a good mood, and that was the whole
point. We wanted the first Thanksgiving
with Ben’s sisters to be special. Maybe
we hedged our bet with 5 bottles of Korbel Brut, but we couldn’t just depend on
our sparkling personalities to make the day memorable. For years, Ben and I had tried to convince
the girls to move home. We’d tell our
tales of New Orleans debauchery and Fred’s Debauchery and Banana debauchery,
and through all of that was an implicit promise. If they moved home, their lives would be more
joyous, more rich, and apparently way more debaucherous. We would see to that. So we needed to deliver solid ratings in this
first family get together.
Related Tangent: I think there are a few keys to make a
gathering enjoyable. First, you have to genuinely like the company
of at least two people in attendance. If you only enjoy one person,
you’re probably going to smother her/him while also feeling a bit stifled with
your lack of options. If you have more than two, then mazel
tov! Second, you need the framework of an agenda, but not a
regimented agenda. You should plan on having dinner and watching a
television show (sounds familiar, huh) but should not plan on dinner at 6:45 followed by four episodes of Girls. Because what happens when
the sauce burns and you and your friends are on your fifth glass of boxed wine
when talk turns to Orange is the New Black? Your schedule gets
shot to hell, that’s what. The point is that you provide a framework
for the gathering to weave itself through and around, and then let cocktails
and conversation take it where it wants to go. Third, and I can’t
stress this one enough, encourage cocktailing at any shindig. I once
attended a baby shower that had two types of sangria for refreshment, and it
was a rousing success. If you’re about to be a parent, you really
need to schedule your wild oat sowing pronto.
Usually, we avoid small town parades unless we are riding on
a hay covered trailer with a woman dressed like Elvis. However, we made an exception when April and
Morgan agreed to ride on a local restaurant’s float. While we were waiting for the line of farm
vehicles, antique cars, and duallys to pass us by, we traded Thanksgiving
memories and laughed about nonsense.
Then we heard music, and the dancing began. Dancing the Dougie with my sister-in-law
isn’t something that I’m particularly proud of, but it definitely added some
magic to the day. And though I’m certain
we scandalized the live nativity float with our pelvic thrusts, we created some
hazy, champagne colored memories too.
Best of all, after we picked up all of the cheap candy and beads around
the car, Ben drove Myrtle (his new Mazda Tribute) into the procession, and we
followed it all the way to the end of the parade. Naturally, we threw the candy and plastic
necklaces to those along the route like the other legit floats. It was magical.
After we picked up April and Morgan, we headed back to
Emily’s place for more champagne and dinner.
The parade had put us all in a good mood, and family stories were being
swapped while more mimosas were being poured.
Old school country music was playing in the background, and we danced in
the living room from time to time. Ben’s
Pentecostal Aunt Lois joined us along with one of April’s Fort Polk
friends. We were a motley crew, and the
conversations ranged from Momma Gooby hurling shoes and ashtrays at the Manuel
kids when they wouldn’t sleep to military deployments in Iraq. Eventually, the champagne ran out and the
dancing ceased and the conversations tapered.
And we had done it. We delivered
the kind of good time that we had promised to the sisters all of those years.