Big, bright turkey earrings might be outlandish for some but for my mother; it was fitting. Spending time with my family during a holiday meal is like being a pilgrim in an unholy land. These times are rough, tense and unnerving. You never quite know who is going to create the next family scene or be insulted due to a wrong interpretation or not interpret anything at all.
My cousin Rachel wanted her ears pierced for Thanksgiving more than anything in the world. However, my Aunt Judy wouldn’t allow any piercings in the house until she reached the age of sixteen. Rachel was only fifteen at the time and knew that her birthday was the day following Thanksgiving. She couldn’t wait any longer and decided to push the schedule up a day. Hence, she had a piercing plot she wanted to execute during the family meal.
On Thanksgiving morning, the door bell rang only to find my cousin Kathy pie-less. She was supposed to bring the pumpkin pie to the family gathering and forgot as usual. Should I mention her day job is a pie baker. I inquired where her husband was and she said he was inspecting our front yard bushes. Moving over to let her pass into the entrance way, I stepped out onto our front porch.
Her husband Matt approached me holding a gray wig and asked me if our brushes had grown hair. I just laughed and smiled because I could recognize that road kill anywhere; it was Uncle Ziggy’s wig. Matt and I both entered the house and from the top banister my father yelled “BOMBS AWAY,” and an entire army of spit balls and soggy paper wads came showering down upon us leaving my two younger cousins hysterical and my father holding his sides in laughter. I wasn’t as pleased with the new advanced technology of glue-spit that can be added to your standard spit-ball to make it stick to ones clothing. Matt was furious and went marching into the dining room only to see Uncle Ziggy playing chess.
Well, we all learned something new that day; Uncle Ziggy purchased wig glue at the dollar store because there was a nice orange ring around his bald head. Slamming the wig on the table in a fury; Matt wanted to speak to my father because this new spit-ball technique had completely trashed his brand new Lord & Taylor pullover.
Rachel’s ear piercing plot was thickening with all of the family’s normal drama that surrounded our holiday meals. She crept quietly into my mother’s closet only in search of one thing – the Thanksgiving earrings. Palming them in her right hand, she made her way into the bathroom and locked the door. With the dinner hour approaching, she knew she had to act fast if her plan was to successfully work. She frantically pulled back the shower curtain to climb into the tub where she had a stash of ice she stole not a few minutes earlier from the kitchen freezer. You guessed it, a homemade turkey ear piercing in the process. Her hands where shaking and trembling with fright; considering if she should just wait a few more hours and go to the mall the next day.
“FOOD TIME” was screamed out from the kitchen and everyone instantly became quiet. Finally, after the never-ending gossip about the next-door neighbor’s daughter possibly being gay, the room was suddenly silent. So quiet, that if a pin were to be dropped on a table it would be heard by all. Then everyone went pouring into the kitchen like tapioca. Some of the cousins started grabbing plates and other younger members of the family were hitting each other with them. Since my mother is always the host, I’m typically the first in line for the best cuts of everything. Not two minutes into the buffet line, my little cousin Sarah already spilled half the dish of cranberry sauce upon her new velvet holiday dress.
There was this humming noise that became apparent all of a sudden; my mother started to count heads and realized that Rachael was missing. “Has anyone seen Rachel?” she said aloud to the group. Before the question could be answered, my grandmother came flying around the corner on her new motorized wheelchair crashing full-force into my Uncle Ziggy, knocking him into the punch bowl where his wig was now floating on top.
A blood-curdling scream came from my mother’s bathroom; making a mad dash down the hallway the approaching agony is sounding worse with each wail. Rachel is half-naked inside the tub with an ice cube and pick that looks like something you would find in a dental hygienists office. She successfully pierced her ear but she successfully spent the next six hours in an ER with Uncle Ziggy and his wig glue.
My mother and Rachel’s mother were both furious over this piercing scandal. The worst part was that my grandmother can’t hear anymore and thought someone was being murdered in the bathroom so she called 911. The police arrived so my mother invited them in for a Thanksgiving dinner. Surprisingly several of the officers stayed to join in on the fun in case another emergency should arise involving home-made dental piercing techniques.
Rachel’s end goal was to obtain my mother’s earrings and wear them to dinner. Well, not every family meal is, quote on quote “perfect.” She never suffered any permanent damage and actually talked my mother into giving up those big turkey earrings so she could wear them for the next holiday.
Many people say that the food makes the holiday special. Others say that family truly makes the holiday memorable. For me – I don’t really fit into either of those categories. I have my own theory on making family memories. I think it is a combination of both food and family plus wondering, “who is going to make the next scene.” For me, being the only normal one in the family is scary…. like being a pilgrim in an unholy land.