It is not really keeping within the Thanksgiving spirit, to say that I am thankful that it is over, at least for another year. It would appear that, once again, the commercial aspect has overtaken the reason, and the 'spirit' has been lost in the after effects. However, far be it for me to stand on my soapbox, when writing about a celebration in the country that has graciously adopted me, and borrowing a line from my friend Lynda, to head this post, shall continue without being too cynical; difficult as it may be!
We knew the week would be erratic, as indeed it was. Monday was busy, yet manageable, and my first reason for being thankful was that Macy's exchanged my food mixer, which had decided to 'break a joint', at the weekend. I am not sure if it was the thanksgiving spirit that prevailed, or the look on my face, which indicated I was about to go into anaphylactic shock, that was the deciding factor. The sales assistant was extremely polite, and whilst letting us know that this was the first mixer ever to be returned, in his (long) four year career with the department store, he had no problem in exchanging it, as it was unacceptable behaviour for a machine. Our trip home during rush hour traffic, did not promote the same spirit for being thankful.
Tuesday was steady, and as predicted, Wednesday was manic. Everyone's crises seemed to be our problem. By midday, things started to slow down, and we were informed by many paralegals that they had cleared their desks, only to find that they had dumped the residue onto us. The afternoon business telephone calls, and emails, were from other support services, who were suffering the same deluge from their clients, but they were few enough for us to leave by 6pm, and with a four day weekend looming brightly on the horizon, I breathed a sigh of relief.
Our turkey, 'Bob', had been defrosting in the fridge for a couple of days, and did not resist being changed into fruit basket. (I did not think that sage and onions could be exchanged for apples, oranges, lemons and cranberries, but the final result was quite delicious.) I left 'Bob' relaxing in a bath of apple juice, and coke, and put him back in the fridge overnight, and with potatoes peeled, I felt I was ready to face the following day.
Thursday morning, for us, started early. Thankfully, Joe was at his shop, and we took Samantha, and Frank, for an early morning cup of caffeine, which kick started me for the ensuing uphill tasks. There were not too many vehicles on the road, and those that were almost apologetically rolled out of town. It appears that no one actually hails from Austin, as everyone goes 'out of town' to family, 'for the holidays'. Those that stay either remain indoors, or take part in the Annual Turkey Trot, which is one of the many marathons run by the city dwellers. We witnessed the ocean of people cascading down the back streets, and onto the deserted highways, as we crossed over the bridge that hosts one of the best mobile views of the City. Back home, our kitchen aerobics seemed positively lethargic compared to the energy of the runners, but we 'set to' and Samantha's chocolate batter turkey embryos took first shift in the oven. I had taken 'Bob' out of his bath, and let him drain, before he took poll position in his penultimate resting place. We had prepared everything, and I had put up my usual display of post it notes, giving times for oven arrival and departure. I am thankful that, once deposited in the cooker, Thanksgiving dinner takes care of itself, and we were able to turn the disaster area, that was my kitchen, into organised chaos. Having a daughter who knows not only how to cook, but in a time of crises will help to clean up, was another thing I had to be thankful for, especially as I had decided to take on the additional task of cleaning my display cabinets. My co-ordination skills were in their usual vacation hideaway, but I am thankful that nothing got broken, despite crashing a glass shelf on to my 'best' crockery set, which I had decided, for the first time, not to use for this special dinner. I am also thankful that my set of six crystal glasses were still intact, despite the collapse of another glass shelf in the smaller cabinet. Samantha, piping bag in hand, came running to my rescue more than once, and not only thankfully, but miraculously, the cakes were the only items covered in icing.
After hours of preparation, our sumptuous (yes, I do say so myself) meal took less than forty five minutes to be devoured. In our house, we mix traditional English Christmas with Thanksgiving Cheer, and our table included, among other items, sausages wrapped in bacon (turkey, both of course), and homemade cornbread. My preference for making desserts has had to take a back seat, as Samantha produced two amazing pies, pumpkin and pecan, and we sat back, more stuffed than 'Bob', who was now slightly the worse for wear. Once again, the kitchen was reminiscent of Pompeii, but we were all thankful for the dishwasher. With the downstairs area looking somewhat civilised, Samantha and Edward excused themselves. They had to take a 'power nap' before the annual mammoth shopping expedition, which was going to start at ten, instead of midnight, and Dana and I took our seats to watch 'the match'! The rivalry match between the two Texas Universities, A&M and 'UT', was going to be the last (for at least seven years....I don't begin to understand the politics), and, therefore, the atmosphere was very tense. I dozed, during the first half, intermittently, as Dana, thoroughly unimpressed with the action, was playing remote tag, and James Bond's fluent scoring ability was greater than either of the Texas teams, but the final play of the game was as exciting as a day in 007's life, and we saw 'our team' win by one point.
Friday morning Dana went into work, and took the dog. I decided to do my housework a day early, and by midday all were home again. Samantha and Edward had visited every electronic store within the vicinity, but had been rather more selective in their purchases than in previous years, which meant that they had less to return. Apparently, it had not been as busy as previous years. Most people decided to take advantage of the sales at around four, Friday afternoon. Coincidentally, this was the time we chose to hit the mall, and parking the car became a sport, with one space for thirty cars. With no music to stop play, it was each man for himself. Dana, less than enthusiastic to join me in the dress shop, but ever the gentleman, saw an escape route, and dropped me at the front entrance, to join the fun of musicless parking spaces. Confident that he would be successful before I had a chance to fill a changing room, I made my way to my favourite store. The regular staff, one tall and lean, the other shorter and less so, greeted me like a long lost friend. They both smiled, asked me how I was doing, and then asked the inevitable question; 'where's our friend?' Dana is, to them, the perfect specimen. He waits patiently, shows enthusiasm when I ask for his opinion, and then pays the bill. To say they swoon would perhaps be discourteous, but it is close. His entrance into the shop was heard loud and clear at the back. 'Do you want a chair?', one asked as he made his way towards me. He declined. One lady took my pick to the changing room. Dana declined the offer of a chair, again. Once my final choice had been made, and Dana declined the chair for a third time, I went through the routine of show and tell. I showed, he told. My purchases were exceptionally good value, with 25% off the original 50% reduction, and my 30% voucher, Dana did not feel victim to open wallet surgery. Still refusing the offer of a chair, and cries of 'come and see us again soon', (to Dana), we merged back into the crowds. I am not a 'shopper' and as Harry and David has left the mall, I was ready to leave. We could have sold our parking space to the highest bidder, but decided, in the name of sport, to let the games continue.
Deciding that we had 'days' in which to devour the leftovers that had taken over my fridge, we stopped on our way home at the buffet (the one with the chocolate fountain shampoo). Dana returned to the table with a plate full of .... turkey. Samantha had called to say she was 'starving' and what were we doing for dinner. She too, refused the contents of my cooler, and joined us at the restaurant, for a plate of .... turkey. I was the only one who decided that I had ingested enough tryptophan for one weekend, and stuck to less tiring food.
Feeling as if I needed to 'do something' with my weekend, and spending most of Saturday morning cleaning everything in my house that had not been cleaned on Thursday and Friday, which turned out to be far more than I had bargained for, Samantha and I headed to the mall for more madness and mayhem. As we entered, the vultures had already gathered. Two vultures to be precise. Real vultures, standing by the side of the road. Strange, but true! Being familiar with English malls, and the territorial rules of parking, we were well equipped to find a decent space. It is a cultural thing, and mini's reverse so quickly! Our afternoon trip proved to be fun. Refusing to give my telephone number for 'location and special offer' purposes, I was reluctantly given my bargain in one shop, and continued to refuse in all others. Normally, the English accent prevents the request, but I think the salespeople have become wise to the foreign invasion. 'You don't have a phone number?', one assistant hissed. 'No. I just don't want to give it to you', was probably the wrong answer, but I do not give into bullies!
Samantha ate turkey sandwiches, and we devoured Mexican food, with the promise that the leftovers would be eaten over the rest of the weekend, as indeed they were on Sunday. With just a few Brussels sprouts and potatoes left, and with the Houston Texans (NFL Football) winning their fifth game in a row, my weekend ended on a high note. My bargains were few, but sufficient, and the only downer on the weekend was that Samantha and I were unable to procure cheap flights to New York next week to join my sister in law on her holiday (ex-sister in law, but in this case, I CAN choose my family!), but hopefully we shall regroup at Christmas.
I am very thankful for all that I have, in the true spirit of thanksgiving, and apologise if I have sounded flippant. Thankfully, I have a job to which I can return tomorrow, and have the liberty to enjoy all that I am thankful for. Tomorrow it is back to work, and we are heading full speed ahead to December. Another year coming to a close, and I shall have completed twelve more months of writing....another story,