Thankless holiday cooks up a flood

Gobble gobble

By Laura Grimes

Today is a REALLY big day in the Scatter Household. The special holiday hot chocolate comes out, the Christmas CDs make their debut and … drumroll … it’s the Grand Unsealing of the Pickles.

We’ve been sharing our disaster tales of Thanksgivings past all week.

Some years back, Mr. Scatter’s family (notice how the disaster stories are always Mr. Scatter’s family?) wanted to get together for a large gathering. The trick was finding a place big enough.

No one had a house the right size. (Except us, and we lived too far away.) A restaurant didn’t suit our need to sprawl over several hours. Finally, I booked a condo and reserved its community room, which had a kitchen.

Somehow, we had the largest family with the smallest kids, and we traveled the farthest, made all the arrangements and hosted the event. No, wait. Come to think of it, I made all the arrangements and it wasn’t even my family.

But that’s just a funny figure of speech. Other family members tackled the really tough chore: arranging for all the traditional Thanksgiving food. They would pick it up at a store and transport it the few hours by car — turkey, stuffing, everything.

Come Thanksgiving day, we hardly had any responsibilities. Whatever little food we were in charge of was easily taken care of. I had scoped out the kitchen and dining area ahead of time and everything was in order. All we had to do was wait.

In the minutes before everyone was due, a strange stillness settled over the condo. I swear the birds stopped chirping and the animals got quiet. I remember thinking, It’s so calm right now. How weird when everything is going to hit in just a few minutes. Everything got slow.

The condo was situated in the middle of a long row of condos. It had a door in front and a door in back, but to get from one to the other outdoors required going around the long building. The community room was a short hike a few blocks away. I had the one access key to it.

As if a buzzer went off, all the relatives (about 14), who were coming from many different places that were many different distances, arrived at once. Sister No. 3 stood there with a hot turkey and a messy pan asking for help opening the oven. I started to help her when Sister No. 2 spoke up from the opposite direction that  she needed help. She was standing with her crutches in the front walk, unable to sit down because someone had the seat to her motorized cart. Brother No. 3 disappeared into the bathroom. Someone came and asked for the access key to the community room and took off out the back door. One person (hug) after another (hug) came in carrying food and I directed them to the community room. Someone (hug) had this question. Someone (hug) had that question. Sister No. 3 was still standing with the hot turkey. Sister No. 2 was still standing with her crutches. I directed one nephew to help Sister No. 2 with her cart. Brother No. 3 hollered that the toilet was overflowing. I hollered to get my toiletry bag off the floor and put it in the tub. I pointed to all the towels. Sister No. 3 was still standing with the hot turkey. Sister No. 2 was still standing with her crutches. Someone came in the front door asking for the access key. I explained that someone had it and was on the way to the community room and pointed to the back door. The turkey finally got in the oven. Sister No. 2 and her cart were not on the front walk anymore. I looked in the bathroom. Brother No. 3 was standing there in an expensive three-quarter length cashmere coat and shiny nice leather shoes with his feet planted on either side of the toilet in a thin layer of water, plunging up and down. I took over and he left. The entire condo was suddenly quiet. Everyone had left. In the eerie stillness, I plunged the toilet until it worked. I mopped up the bathroom floor. I put all the wet towels in the washing machine and started it. And then I looked around. I checked the clock. It had been mere minutes. Did that really just happen?


Thankless holiday No. 1 climbing in the shower naked with a frozen turkey.
Thankless holiday No. 2 — the oven goes up in flames.
Thankless holiday No. 3 — a crowd in a squeeze sets off an alarm.


ILLUSTRATION: How come turkeys always look so happy in pretty Thanksgiving pictures?