Hiking through the woods wasn’t what I pictured myself doing on Thanksgiving, but I did. We have some land in Chambers County that we’re about to sell, and Bill, the boys and I left my in-laws’ house in Gold Hill this morning and went to take some pictures to show interested buyers. The land is right outside Lafayette (that’s “la-FAY-ette” if you’re local), and breathtakingly beautiful. We’ve fixed it up for hunting, adding green fields to attract deer, and the game camera and many footprints we saw confirmed that the place is teeming with them. Over the past year we cut in roads, planted some brown stuff that turkeys enjoy, and the twins personally hauled rocks to build culverts over the creek that runs through the land.
I got photos of deer and bobcat tracks, Drew mooning Porter through the back of the pickup, the young pines that populate part of the land, Porter attacking anthills with a stick, the thick brush at the edge of the fields where deer hang out and boys peeing in the woods (from the rear).
As we left, Porter found a smooth hardwood stick that was at least six feet long. It was strong, too. He threw it, javelin-like, all over the woods, and it didn’t splinter or shatter. He fell in love and begged to bring it home.
Finn and Porter had been nagging each other all morning, and Finn had swatted Porter several times. Bill told Porter to put the stick in the back of the pickup if he wanted to bring it back to Gold Hill, and I saw the evil in Finn’s eyes.
“Don’t screw with that stick,” I told him, waggling my finger at him.
Thanksgiving lunch was at 12:30, so we got to Gold Hill at 11:30. When we got there, the stick was gone and Finn confessed that he’d tossed it out the back of the truck “because he thought it would be funny.”
I stomped inside to repossess his cell phone. “I can’t believe that dumb f-,” I was saying, when I realized that our Thanksgiving company had already started to arrive. Early.
I figured that was their tough luck. If they wanted to come early and see real life preparations for Thanksgiving, they could. So two ancient aunts and Bill’s grandfather, assorted caregivers and a guy named Chuckie who was a stranger to me but stayed all the way through the pecan pie, so I assume he was related, watched while Bill and I verbally flogged Finn. The show wasn’t over; they also rubbernecked as I padded about in my robe on my way to the shower and back with no underwear underneath.
According to Bill’s dad, Pop, the relatives have been arriving an hour early for half a century, and the practice was especially exasperating in the 1990s when BB’s ancient aunts, Nita, Nan, Eleanor (“EL-na” if you’re local), and Ruby Clyde were all alive and mobile, but only Ruby Clyde remains and she had to be wheeled in early and seemed pissed off about it. She also called Pop “Chuckie’s dad” the whole time she was here and awake, which could be considered further evidence that Chuckie is part of the family.
It would have been marvelous if everyone had arrived an hour early, we had eaten, and then the holiday was over. However, two relatives bucked tradition and got lost, despite the fact that they grew up in the Gold Hill house, and arrived an hour late.
During the hour we waited, the boys shot BB guns in the back yard, and Finn took careful aim at my mother-in-law’s outdoor chandelier and successfully blasted several of the glass candles out.
Bill confiscated the gun and ordered him to gather pecans while he thought up a better punishment. I suggested that he make Finn clean out Pop’s spit cup with his tongue but instead Bill elected to ban him from the next hunting trip. No hunting or texting made Finn a sad boy, which was the intended result. However, he filled up a three gallon pail with pecans, and my mother-in-law, unaware of Finn’s new status as scum, promised that he could take the pecans to town and keep the money, so I’m not sure the deprivations had their intended effect.
It’s Thanksgiving evening now. I’ve eaten more sweet potatoes, and we’ve watched the Auburn local news. The big story was that the Ruby Tuesday’s got an 85 from the health inspector because the cooks were handling the baked potatoes with Oh My God bare hands. Finn and Porter and Drew have called a truce. They’re upstairs playing “Zombie,” which involves them pummeling each other and shouting things I hope my in-laws don’t hear, like: “If you pull off my weenie I’ll die!”
Still, even with the brotherly combat and the peep-show shower, I’m thankful for my family. Plus, no one puts the fun in dysfunctional the way we do.
My in-laws just had some friends come over and all three boys, led by former scum Finn, got up, introduced themselves and gave strong handshakes. I love my oldest again. Now I can go to bed happy.
One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: The Sex Talk