November 23, 2009
It’s the week of Thanksgiving. This is when the pilgrims were preparing for the first Thanksgiving with the Native Americans, hoping that Terry, one of the Native Americans they really liked didn’t bring his belligerent girlfriend.
For the last prompt I asked: Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near?
I will use Allan’s answer:
“Because I carry birdseed in my pocket.
A habit I acquired while working in the aviary at the city zoo.
My favorite bird was the small Carolina Wren. Most people never noticed little Christopher, with his drab brown back and embarrassing orange coloring under his legs. But he always seemed to be the most aggressive during feeding time. Chirping wildly as he would sweep in looking for an opening at the birdseed feeding trough. The bigger birds would crowd him out, denying him a chance to eat so I began carrying birdseed in my pocket to sneak to him while the other birds were distracted.
(That is why I worked with Francis Bird in the design and contsruction of St. Paul’s Cathedral)
too many avian puns?”
Allan, I’m trying to decide if that is an eloquent short story tailor made for Reader’s Digest, or the murmurings of someone who may have schizophrenia lurking that creates new memories out of the annals of made for TV movies from the Hallmark Channel. I’m going to take some themes from your story and combine them together with what I was typing earlier, the Thanksgiving story.
The Miller family was tidying and cleaning, and generally hurrying about to prepare for the upcoming influx of people they would have crammed into their house for Thanksgiving…the first Thanksgiving. There was Father, named Thomas, his wife, Chastity, their son Jonathon, and their daughter, Constance.
Jonathon: Do we have to have Thanksgiving? It sounds so stupid.
Chastity: Yes. Yes we do. It’s important for us to be inviting. We are Puritans, and Puritans are known for being inviting and fun. I don’t want to hear another word out of you. Gather the wood and start warming the squash.
Jonathon: Okay, but I don’t think this tenuous union will last! Do we have a microwave yet?
Jonathon runs outside to gather wood, smacking Constance on the head on his way out.
Thomas: You ever get the feeling that that boy is from the future?
Chastity: It will be great to see King Massasoit, but if he brings his stupid girlfriend, Tina, I won’t be able to stand it. He complains a bit much, but she is crazy. That woman just talks incessantly. And she talks about the stupidest things. I don’t care about her weekend in the Hamptons. She thinks she’s better than everyone else. And will someone please get that woman a mint leaf? It smells like she’s been eating ginger roots and English manure.
Thomas: Okay, that’s enough. You know that it’s important to me that they have a good time.
Chastity: I know. I just don’t always get along with your side.
Constance runs in.
Constance: I can see them. They’re coming. They’re coming!
Chastity: Dang it. Christopher, the fowl, is hardly done yet. Why are they early? We told them noon and they have to come at 11:30. It’s that dang Tina. She’s just trying to make me look bad. She’s always trying to make me look bad. Oh look at them, they’re bringing their own fowl. I told them to bring a dessert. Now we have two entrees and no dessert. Why do I even bother talking to her.
Jonathon: You should have just called her.
Thomas: What does that mean?
Thomas: Son, don’t make me throw you in water to see if you float.
King Massasoit, Tina, and several other Wampanoag Indians knock on the door.
Chastity: Jonathon, straighten your bib, put your belt around your hat, and for the Lord’s sake, cut out some paper in the shape of your hand and make it look like a turkey.
Jonathon: Can I use a laser cutter, so I make it more accurate?
Jonathon: Sorry Dad.
They open the door.
Chastity: Welcome. Oh it’s so great to see you! Give me your coats. You don’t have any? Give me your hides, we’ll get these to the other room. I’m sorry the house is such a mess. You know how it is, Jonathon has been playing cowboys and…nevermind.
King: Thanks. It’s great to be here. We had to leave early this morning. You wouldn’t believe the traffic on the Delaware. Then we exited, only to see that a river ford had construction. They were down to one walking lane.
Tina: It was N-U-T-S nuts. Here is our fowl. I know you said not to bring an entree, but I figured I’d carry some birdseed in my pockets and see what happens. Oh, I love the curtains, so homey. I wouldn’t choose them because I’m too young, but they work for you.
Chastity: Thanks, I think.
They all gather around a table, plus a kids table with Jonathon and Constance, some of the younger Wampanoag, and Tina. The fowl is prepared. There are potatoes, ham, cranberries, and plenty of food to go around.
Tina: I shouldn’t be at the younger kids table. I’m dating the King.
Jonathon: Do you want to see my Micromachines?
Tina: What are either of those words?
Thomas: So, what has been happeing with you all? I feel like I never see you anymore.
King: Well, the fall has been brutal. It seemed like it got colder earlier this year. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. But, I swear, one day it’s summer and the next day I’m like, “Hello, winter!” Plus, it seems like there are more and more of you white men. I mean, it almost seems like in a few years you’ll be taking over the place. Ha! I tell you.
Thomas: Shut it!
Tina: I haven’t even begun our Christmas letter yet. Usually by this time of year I have at least an outline. It seems like we’ve been so busy. I guess everybody wants a piece of the King. It seems like every free moment I get I’m taking the kids to another lacrosse practice. If it’s not practice, it’s a tournament. If it’s not a tournament, it’s a fundraiser. The coach is just killing me. Three weekends this year we’ve had a maize and squash bake sale fundraiser. But the kids are doing so great! They took home first place in the Potowatami spelling bee. I don’t even know how to spell Potowatami.
Chastity: Okay, that sounds…
Tina: Did I even tell you that King is taking me on a trip this year? We’re going the Puye Cliff Dwellings. I know. I can hardly believe it myself. They are built right into the side of a cliff. I’m like, ” Oh my Mother Earth!” How did they do that? Does Thomas ever take you on trips? Probably not. You guys seem so busy taming the wilderness. Let me tell you sister, some wilderness just can’t be tamed, and I’m talking about the King when I say that. Grrrrrrrrr.
Later in the evening, the Wompanoag and the men are asleep, or laying down watching a wooden box in the corner. There is a disturbance from the kitchen.
Chastity: Yeah, well I’m sorry it’s not good enough for you! Nothing is good enough for you. I’m sorry I can’t please the almighty Tina!
Tina: That’s not how I meant it! But I do mean this! Your house is a mess! Your husband has a gun that looks like a bugle! And your son may or may not be from the future! You have a seriously messed up family!
Chastity: Oh yeah!?
Chastity: At least I’m not dating a King, who appears to have no intention of marrying me!
Tina: Oooh, that’s too much! We’re engaged!
Chastity: Oh yeah? When is the wedding? Tell me when the wedding is!
Tina: It’s not set yet. King is getting over a bad break up, okay!
Chastity: Maybe you should just leave!
Tina: Yeah, maybe we should, but I’m choosing to leave, you’re not making me!
Tina: Fine! Let’s go, King, others. Where is my hide? Where is my hide? Did you steal my coat?
Chastity: No. I didn’t steal your coat!
King stumbles around, getting up.
King: Well, Thomas, it was good to see you.
Thomas: You too. Looks like we’ve got some work on our hands.
Tina leaves screaming and slamming the door behind her. Everyone else awkwardly shrugs, shifting their feet, looking at the ground. Tina runs back in.
Tina: I forgot a moccasin…let’s go!
King: Sometimes I wonder if we’ll ever all just get along.
Jonathon: Ha! Good one…
Thomas: Don’t even.
Chastity: Enjoy your trip back home! I hope traffic has cleared up!
Tina: I hope your crow’s feet deepen!
Chastity: What’s that supposed to mean?!
Tina: Your face!
Chastity: How about this flippin’ bird!
Tina: See you next year?!
Chastity: Of course!
Thus began, from the very first Thanksgiving, the tradition of semi-maniacal family members butting heads at Thanksgiving and making it awkward for the rest of us.
Next prompt: What is your family’s best Thanksgiving tradition?