November 25, 2009

The Worst Thanksgiving Ever

Lucy woke up with the sniffles yesterday, so I kept her home from school. I had a bit of work to do so I couldn’t give her my undivided attention all day, but Lucy didn’t mind. She just hung her chin over my shoulder and sniffled in my ear. There’s nothing like the sound of your child’s mucus, amplified by proximity, to help you meet a deadline.

Lunchtime came and we had soup and toast, and while we were eating, Lucy asked me to tell her a story.

“What kind of story?” I said.

“One from when you were a kid.”

She always wants a story from my childhood, which is hard because my memory is excellent for things that do not make for appropriate stories, especially at lunch. For other things, it’s not so good.

For example, I have no recollection of anything I actually did with my elementary school best friend. I only remember this: she had soft hands, and she could kick a soccer ball really far.

Oh, and I suppose I do remember the time in eighth grade when she had a birthday party and was planning to show “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Her mom called our house to make sure it was an appropriate movie. My older brother answered the phone.

“No,” he said with glee, “that would NOT be an appropriate movie to watch.” A sick Lucy

We did not watch the movie.

I have no proof of this, I suspect the next thing he did was spike an imaginary football and giggle like a cartoon villain. Also, he probably picked his nose and ate it. (There. Twenty-five years later, revenge is mine!)

So, while that does count as a story from my childhood, it’s not the good kind to share with Lucy because of the inevitable questions.

“Why was the movie inappropriate?”
Answer: It would be inappropriate for me to tell you.

“Did the other kids get mad?”
Answer: I was not invited to any other parties for my entire middle school career. In fact, it might be the last birthday party I went to until my friends started turning 30.

“Did you have ANY friends?”
Answer: Including or excluding the librarian?

Other stories I remember generally have to do with chicken pox, dead animals and/or vomit. Typically, they’re not appropriate, either. But because Lucy was sick and because it was almost Thanksgiving, I told her about the year I was seven and ate myself sick.

It started with the paper mache turkey I’d made in school. Inside its belly were chocolates, dark chocolates wrapped in clear cellophane. They looked so good I had to try one. They tasted so good I ate them all. Who would know?

I also had some turkey. And some stuffing. And mashed potatoes—my favorite. I had some of my grandma’s homemade rolls, and by some, I mean probably about ten. No one baked like my grandma.

I had some of mom’s pumpkin pie, and because I’d learned that my grandma’s mincemeat pie didn’t actually contain meat, I tried some of that, too. With hard sauce, because my grandpa told me it was good. He was mistaken, though I finished so that no one would have hurt feelings.

They I lay down on the carpet.

When I woke up, it was the day after Thanksgiving. I was no longer on the carpet. I was in my room, which my mom had recently redecorated (my brothers had finally moved out and into their basement room, which to this day still has that weird boy smell). 

My bedroom had a white shag rug, white curtains with yellow rosebuds and a matching, rose-covered comforter. I’d wanted the pink ones, but they were sold out of the curtains and my mom wanted the room to be special. Really special. And it was.

Anyway, on that day after Thanksgiving, my mother stood over my bed, blocking the light from the morning sun. “Martha!” she said. “What have you done?”

I rolled over and discovered what I’d my bed, to the shag carpet, to the comforter, to the curtains.

Some people sleep walk. Apparently, I am a sleep-barfer.

“That is a really disgusting story,” Lucy said.

Indeed. What’s also kind of gross is that my old bedroom is now my mom’s sewing room, where that same carpet remains to this day.

But it does give me something to be thankful for. I learned a valuable lesson that day.

Sadly, it was not that eating too much makes a girl sick, though the next time that happened after an eating contest with my brother, I managed to use the proper receptacle.

No, what I learned is that no matter what, there will never be a worse Thanksgiving. Or at least there will never be a worse self-inflicted one.

While I am always grateful for the good health of my friends and family—especially Lucy, who is no longer snorting mucus in my ear—it’s nice to know my stupidest years are behind me, ready to be shared with my children for their entertainment, education, and enlightenment.

Here’s hoping it actually works, because I’m not as good at cleaning up messes as my mother is.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

--Martha Brockenbrough


Heidi Kutcher

I love your story and can totally relate to all of it. I actually laughed out loud quite a bit while reading. Thank you for making me smile and making my day brighter!!

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