Friday, November 09, 2007

Thanksgiving Culture Clash

Spouse and I have very similar cultural and ethnic backgrounds. When we were in school the Administration Office workers referred to us as "Wally & Wendy Wasp". In fact, a check of our respective family trees shows that our forebears lived in the same county back in the old country (yes I know, we're probably perpetuating some sort of in-breeding). However on Thanksgiving weekend, 1994 I encountered a Significant Cultural Difference in our families.

We were living in a tiny first floor condominium in New Hampshire. Spouse's parents were driving up to spend the holiday with us. He was terribly excited that they would be tasting some of my best cooking, cooking that he constantly bragged about. I was beside myself with joy at at the prospect of getting to play hostess.

Imagine my hurt and disappointment when Father-in-law announced he'd made reservations for dinner. It turns out that Thanksgiving for his family is highlighted by spectacular restaurant dining and they were appalled that I would even consider cooking on the greatest dining out day of the year. After much back and forth and many tears on my part (How can they hate my cooking when they've never even tasted it?), I resigned myself to not having what I considered a "real" Thanksgiving dinner.

Fine, I thought. They are here for the entire weekend. I'll just go ahead and make my Thanksgiving turkey and trimmings on Friday. There was much pouting and harrumphing and many more tears (Why does your father hate me? Yes he does, he won't even eat my food...).

Thanksgiving morning came. My tears had mostly turned to sullen resignation. I carefully dressed myself and my babies and began to notice a strange smell. After shellacking my hair so that it would not move in hurricane winds (hey, I may be living in New England but I'm still a Texan), I popped on an apron and went in the kitchen to start a little bit of prep work for Friday's feast. Dang! What is that smell? No, it's not the smell of turkey roasting in eleven other condo units simultaneously, that smell is nice. This smell is nasty and it's getting stronger.

That's when I saw it. "Spouse, Spouse!" I screeched, "There's something coming up in the sink!" He came a-running. Oh the stench! He tried putting the garbage disposal on, it lowered the level of foulness rising up from the drain, but it was coming fast. He grabbed the plumber's helper as I hastily tied a ruffled flowery apron around him to protect his nice suit. "Call the maintenance guys! Ah cannah hould it baack mooch loonger, Cap'n!", he shouted in his best Scotty from Star Trek voice.

Did you know that when twelve condo units simultaneously cook a major feast and use their garbage disposals all at the same time the sudden overload of sewerage will be forced to back up into the bottom floor unit? When his parents arrived they found me wrestling two screaming babies, a sweating Spouse being yelled at by a maintenace guy for ruining his Thanksgiving and a little jewelbox of a condo that reeked of garbage. Needless to say, we beat a hasty retreat.


That afternoon as I sat at a beautiful table set with sterling silver and Irish linen sipping champagne and enjoying spectacular ocean views through sparkling picture windows, I had another spoonful of creamy lobster bisque perfection and came to the conclusion that I could live quite happily with certain cultural differences.

Today I give thanks for my much beloved father-in-law. I miss him terribly, but I'm so thankful to have had him in my life.