Lying around all day
with some strange new deep blue
weekend funk, I'm not really asleep
when my sister calls
to say she's just hung up
from talking with Aunt Bertha
who is 89 and ill but managing
to take care of Uncle Frank
who is completely bed ridden.
Aunt Bert says
it's snowing there in Arkansas,
on Catfish Lane, and she hasn't been
able to walk out to their mailbox.
She's been suffering
from a bad case of the mulleygrubs.
The cure for the mulleygrubs,
she tells my sister,
is to get up and bake a cake.
If that doesn't do it, put on a red dress.
--Ginger Andrews (from Hurricane Sisters)
So this Friday before Thanksgiving, think about Aunt Bert and how she'll celebrate Thanksgiving! And how about YOU?
1. What is your cure for the "mulleygrubs"?
Baking something is a pretty good cure; also cleaning out cupboards, organizing things and general tidying up.
2. Where will you be for Thanksgiving?
We’re going to my aunt and uncle’s house, and their daughter and her two teenage sons will be there too. I expect much hilarity.
3. What foods will be served? Which are traditional for your family?
Turkey from a local farm, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy; I’ll probably contribute homemade cranberry sauce, and my sweet potatoes with peaches and cashews; probably one or two other vegetables at least; several different pies! My childhood Thanksgivings are memorable for the abundance of two things, vegetables and pies. We also had a turkey probably twice the size of the one we’ll be eating next week. In Minnesota we had that green bean casserole, but that is not traditional here (and I don’t really miss it, but my kids would.)My grandmother in a photo taken November 1942, very possibly preparing Thanksgiving dinner.
4. How do you feel about Thanksgiving as a holiday?
I think it’s a great holiday, and even people who aren’t especially religious seem to get the spirit of gratitude on this day. I recognize that some American Indians have trouble with the historical part of it, on the other hand they have taught us much about how to be thankful for the bounty of this land and how to use it respectfully.
5. In this season of Thanksgiving, what are you grateful for?
My family, my home, my dog, my friends, the Internet, my local public library, farmers’ markets (and farmers, and fisherfolk), hope for a partial solution to the healthcare mess…that will do for a start.
BONUS: Describe Aunt Bert's Thanksgiving.
After her usual morning chores and making sure Frank was comfortably settled, with the parade on TV, Bert started preparing Thanksgiving dinner. This year they would just have a nice fat chicken roasted; even a small turkey would be too much for the two of them. She remembered the days when Frank would go out to the woods and bring back a wild turkey for Thanksgiving; sometimes he’d have time to go duck hunting and there’d be two or more birds on the table. Taking out the pan of cornbread she had prepared the day before and frying up a bit of Joe Smith’s homemade sausage for flavoring, she began preparing the stuffing, then put it aside when she remembered that she needed to bake a couple of pies first. Luckily, although he couldn’t be up and around any longer, Frank still had all his teeth so he could enjoy his favorite pecan pie with nuts from their own trees. She recalled fondly how her nieces had visited earlier in the fall with their children, and all had helped with the tree-shaking. It’s good for kids to learn that food doesn’t just come from the grocery store. She’s looking forward to their visiting at Christmas time; she told them not to try coming down from Chicago for the short Thanksgiving holiday. Now that the pie was in the oven, she could start peeling potatoes and making the creamed onions. And she mustn’t forget Frank’s favorite, the fried okra. Good thing she had plenty of okra in the freezer.At last everything was ready, and at just the right time, since it was half-time of the Lions-Packers game Frank was avidly watching. Ever since his brother Earl had moved to Detroit to work on the line at General Motors, Frank had followed the Detroit sports teams along with him. Earl had died a couple of years back, and maybe it was just as well, with all the trouble his old employer was having; but Frank still rooted for the Lions, Tigers and Pistons. But, being a country music fan from childhood, Frank wasn’t too interested in the big Motown salute during half-time, so Bert could get him to turn off the TV and say grace. After the prayer, they had always gone around the table saying what they were thankful for. Frank says he’s thankful for Bert and all her care of him. Bert says she’s thankful for Frank too because he’s still good company after all these years. Then they tuck in to their Thanksgiving dinner.