My family doesn’t have many Thanksgiving traditions. Sure, there’s the Get-Up-Early-and-Knock-Around-the-Kitchen-To-Aggravate-Mom move, the Lazing-in-Front-of-the-TV-While-Older SlackBrother J.-Gnaws-On-Turkey-Necks stand-by, and the classic Is-Dinner-Ready-Yet?-It’s-Ready-When-I-Goddamn-Well-Say-It-Is bit.
For years, my entire Thanksgiving contribution was that I made the crescent rolls; popping open the carton with a soup spoon and rolling those little suckers diagonally and finally, in a virtual hat-tip to my Tetris-fu, arranging the raw dough to fit on one baking sheet as that was all the room we had in the oven. It was the final tag out while SlackMom did the 2,947 other things that she had to do and then, voila! Dinner was served to a bunch of Bargiels in their pajamas sitting at a table with the cloth napkins and the nice dishes and the crystal.
And that's where tradition came in.
SlackDad would ask us what we were thankful for, and the SlackKids would recite our individual parts of the Slack Thanksgiving Blessing:
Slackmistress: I’m thankful that I wasn’t on the plane when Lynyrd Skynyrd went down.
Younger SlackBrother j.: I’m thankful that I’m not stranded on an island surrounded by a man-eating shark.
Older SlackBrother J.: I’m thankful that I’m not Rick James’ sex slave.
This ritual incantation was born a Thanksgiving about nine years ago, when the Thanksgiving morning TV watching portion was a triple feature consisting of Behind the Music: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jaws: The Revenge , and some sort of Where are They Now? Rick James.
While the blessing was not an immediate favorite of SlackDad’s, it somehow became part of the Slack Family Lexicon, and was recited every Thanksgiving without fail.
Until the year SlackNiece J. was born.
Instead of spending Thanksgiving with my parents, I spent Thanksgiving with my then-boyfriend's parents, who lived in a gated community in Phoenix. Arizona. A community blonde people with blonde children watering their green lawns in the desert. Mailboxes that read like a who's who of the Witness Protection Program, a cavalcade of Williams and Carters and Smiths.
They put on pants for dinner.
They also drank a lot.
So I was half-comfortable.
After drinking my weight in champagne, we sat down to dinner with four forks and two knives and three glasses. The lights were dimmed and my then-boyfriend's father unrolled a piece of parchment and read George Washington’s proclamation regarding the first Thanksgiving.
Because I was the guest, the floor was turned over to me.
So, Nina, do you have any Thanksgiving traditions in your family?
I thought for half a second before I blurted out:
Have you ever heard of of a band called Lynyrd Skynyrd?
I am convinced that there are two kinds of places you can have Thanksgiving in this world:
Places where you can talk about Rick James and sex slaves;
and places where you can't.
This Thanksgiving, I'm grateful that I married someone who embraces the former.