Thankless holiday sets off an alarm

We might have to fall back on this because we're resorting to Plan B and planning our Thanksgiving meal at the last minute./Wikimedia CommonsBy Laura Grimes

Here at Art Scatter World Headquarters we are counting down to the day of the Grand Unsealing of the Pickles* by telling all our embarrassing and disastrous tales of Thanksgivings past.

For some reason, giant black clouds hover over us this time every year, though we always manage to have a wonderful holiday.

This year, we had planned to drive to the Olympic Peninsula to spend several days with relatives, but our trip was canceled when 6 to 12 inches of snow dumped there and roads turned treacherous,** Felix/Martha came down with a nasty cold (which isn’t like him), and the half-wild She Cat, who usually disappears for days and eats god knows what, badly injured her front paw and is camped out on a fluffy blanket on the couch.

This morning, the He Cat made barfing sounds on the dining room rug. I grabbed him around the middle (not so good) and was juggling him (also not good) while unlocking the front door, when his whole body convulsed and a wet hairball flew out of his mouth and landed on the rug near my feet.

Thank you, Thanksgiving.

We’ve had to mobilize our own menu for T-Day at the last minute. I think we have it under control, though. I just heard Mr. Scatter put the little black skillet*** on the stove to dry while loudly singing, “C’mon, Baby, do the mashed potato!”

Soon after that, he opened a 1985 vintage port that we got on our honeymoon to use in a cranberry sauce he’s making. He poured me small glass. It wasn’t noon yet. It appears we’ll get by fine.


But I promised a story of Thanksgiving past, and I’m thinking of a particularly cozy one.

It was 14 years ago. Oscar/Dennis was 2 and Felix/Martha wasn’t Felix/Martha yet. We had a biggish house with three floors and plenty of room to roam, but our entire first floor, including the kitchen, was being remodeled and was out of commission.

Mr. Scatter’s Sister No. 3 was kind enough to host the holiday. She lived just a short drive away. Mom and Dad Hicks and other relatives drove a long way from out of town. I don’t remember who all was there, but we made up a party of 8 to 10 people.

Somehow we all crammed into Sister No. 3’s tiny one-bedroom apartment. It had a small living room, a small bedroom, a small bathroom and a small kitchen.

When we arrived, everyone was bundled up because the furnace had quit working.

A couple of tables pushed together ate up the entire living room.

As a toddler, Felix/Martha had the energy of a dozen people and would have been a whirling dervish in that tiny space in no time. We came fortified with a stack of Barney videos and ensconced him in the bedroom.

So the living room was taken up by the tables. The bedroom was taken up with a large purple dinosaur singing syrupy “I love you” songs. The bathroom wasn’t big enough or pleasant enough to hang out in. Which left the kitchen, by far the warmest spot in the apartment, but the bustling cooks pretty much took up all the space and didn’t want to be distracted or dinner would never get on the table.

We chatted pleasantly enough, but we were all waiting. It takes a long time to cook a dinner that big. We would go to the warm kitchen but we were just in the way. We would go to the freezing living room but we couldn’t figure out where to land. Syrupy “I love you” repeatedly wafted from the bedroom. And just when everything was starting to come together at the same time in the kitchen, just when the turkey came out, the gravy needed stirring, all the side dishes needed to be plated, just when the stress level ratcheted up to a crescendo — a movie script could not have been written any better — the ear-splitting smoke alarm went off.

The tall people fiddled with the alarm. The short people opened outside doors (more freezing). “I love you” continued to waft from the bedroom.

Sister No. 3 looked stricken. She so wanted to create a wonderful holiday for everyone. I just started laughing. It was all so perfect. At first she looked at me a little annoyed, but, finally, she started laughing, too. Thankfully.

Sister No. 3 did create a wonderful holiday. One we’ll never forget.


*If you’re new to Scatterdom, our motto is:

Practice Safe Snacking
Always Use a Condiment

We make pickles every late summer and open them on Thanksgiving to find out whether they’re naughty or nice.

More on pickles coming up soon when I recount how all the barter exchanges have been going.

**Relatives drove from the Olympic Peninsula to SeaTac in a 4-wheel drive, and the trip that normally takes 2 hours took 14.

***It’s in the marriage contract that Mr. Scatter always has to clean the little black skillet. He doesn’t believe me, but I assure him it exists.


The first thankless holiday story — climbing in the shower naked with a frozen turkey.

The second thankless holiday story — the oven goes up in flames.


ILLUSTRATION: We might have to fall back on this because we’re resorting to Plan B and planning our Thanksgiving meal at the last minute./Wikimedia Commons