Archive for the 'Thanksgiving' Category

The Giving of the Thanks: Part 2 (Electric Boogaloo)

Breakfast was no joke. They were right. We arrived Friday morning back at the house, pretty much completely recovered and I for one was absolutely ready to fully and completely enjoy the food without the sickening aftereffects of a hangover getting in the way.

I grabbed a plate and got in line, watching as airy biscuits were loaded with smooth sausage gravy, slices of crisp bacon and spoonfuls of fluffy scrambled eggs landed on plate after empty plate. I was instructed that it was standard practice and tradition to reserve one biscuit to be spread with butter and jam, just to balance out the savory flavors and saltiness of the meaty breakfast meats. (Little known fact: “country ham”  is just code for “even saltier ham”). The sweet biscuit was almost a breakfast dessert, which I was grateful for after polishing off the remainder of the sodium-laden meal.

The Friday after Thanksgiving finally graced us with a little sunshine, so as the little kids were ushered off to go to a movie, the rest of us decided to go hang out at B.’s uncle’s farm and ride around on ATV’s and just be generally awesome. B.’s Uncle R. is a Renaissance man in every sense of the word. I mean, the man breeds Australian shepherd puppies, raises and slaughters his own pigs, and makes his own moonshine. Moonshine! I was instantly charmed. I’ve been known to be somewhat of a moonshine enthusiast, though when it comes to actually trying the stuff I generally pretend I’m getting sick and probably shouldn’t be sharing glasses with people but thanks anyway.  B. and M.. clearly being braver men than I, sampled the blackberry flavor and assured me it was eminently delicious.

At one point, I found myself in the kitchen as Uncle R. whipped up a batch of margaritas. I found this beverage choice to be amusingly incongruous with my surroundings, and chuckled inwardly as B.’s uncles sipped pink blended drinks out of palm tree-shaped margarita glasses and gathered around the TV; grunting, watching football, and talking about what could be done to fix one of the broken-down ATVs. One of these things is not like the other.

Eventually, the ATV got fixed and off we went. I clung tightly to B.’s ribcage as we jostled our way across the rough terrain of the Kentuckian hills, following B.’s cousin closely over enormous logs and through dense thickets of trees.

“Watch out for the twigs, they’ll getcha right in the face!” B.’s cousin warned, and I decided it might just be best to bury my face in B.’s back until this ride was over, not wanting to risk a poked-out eye or a slashed face. It was actually a really beautiful day for this, and as we climbed up the hills behind Uncle R.’s house, I looked out across the landscape and marveled at the rolling fields and crooked little houses with smoke unfurling from their chimneys. It was like a postcard.

Our off roading adventure led us back to the house where we’d eaten breakfast that morning and dinner the night before. I had to get off the back of the vehicle so B. could urge the thing over a small creek and up a steep and muddy incline. “My work here is done!” I declared, dismounting the ATV, deciding things like this were better left to the menfolk to deal with. I then promptly got entangled in a bunch of thistles, from which it  took me about ten minutes to extract myself. Serves me right, I guess.

The rest of the evening was spent grazing on leftovers and fiddling with the color on the TV, which somehow had become stuck on the greener end of the color spectrum. We then went back to the cousin’s house where I got solidly whooped in both Taboo and Cranium. I blame the pinot grigio.

The next morning we were to depart for our final stop: Louisville.

The Giving of the Thanks: Part One

Thursday

B. and I were awakened at 5:45 AM by B.’s sister, A., calling my phone. She was outside my building in a cab with her boyfriend M., well-rested and ready to get on with the day. B. and I were still drunk from the night before, and sound asleep when her call came through. “What? Oh, you’re here? Totally, we’re DEFINITELY NOT ASLEEP and we’ll be down in two minutes!”

Our flight was at 8 AM and we showed up a good hour and a half before the boarding time, which is not wholly unusual for me as I was raised to get to the airport hours before takeoff time. Flight’s at 9 AM? Why not get up at 5? Takeoff scheduled for Wednesday?? Sure, let’s all get there on Monday, you know, just to be on the safe side. Getting to the airport obscenely early is just ingrained in my biological makeup at this point, but B.’s family loves cutting it close. Fortunately, B.’s sister had the foresight to account for any potential mob scene that could be taking place at O’Hare on Thanksgiving morning and got us there in plenty of time.

Around 7 AM, I choked down an Egg McMuffin, figuring I should probably eat something to soak up the booze sloshing around in my stomach. That, combined withe the following series of events is what made me–promptly and without fanfare–eject the contents of my stomach not ten minutes after the plane landed in Louisville, Kentucky. The plane we boarded was tiny; one of those deals where there’s two seats on the righthand side and one on the left and tall people have to stoop and crouch down to get to their seats. My hangover was already starting to kick in as the plane took off; the force of it shoving me back into my seat and sending my head reeling. I tried to ignore it as I flipped listlessly through US magazine, trying super hard to care about what kind of queen Kate Middleton will be and what brand of injectable poison Kim Kardashian uses to keep her face looking so delightfully swollen and mask-like.

B. fell asleep almost immediately, leaving me to struggle alone with my impending nausea and splitting headache. I begged the flight attendant for two glasses of water, loaded with ice, and chugged them in quick succession. Nothing. If anything, the icy cold water was making me feel worse. I breathed a sigh of relief when the PA system bing-bonged and the captain announced we were beginning our descent into Louisville. I gazed out the window at the gray clouds, waiting anxiously for a glimpse of land, thinking that if I could just see the ground I might feel better. Again, not thing. We were lost in the clouds, and staring out a window with nothing to look at was intensifying my headache and doing something weird to my eyes; they felt swollen and unable to focus.  This went on for twenty minutes. Twenty minutes. Then, something really special happened. We hit turbulence. Turbulence in a regular-sized plane, with no hangover, is bad enough but still kinda tolerable. Sickening, jolting, floating and then slamming turbulence in a mini-plane with nausea knocking at your throat is a whole different beast. B. slept soundly as I clutched the armrests, practically white-knuckled, alternating between pleading and praying as I tried desperately to find a place to rest my eyes that wouldn’t exacerbate my sickness.

Finally, mercifully, the clouds broke and I saw the ground, the houses, the blessed runway! At this point, I was sweating and I doing that thing where you’re breathing really carefully and swallowing a lot and just basically trying not to die right there on that plane. We shuffled off the plane and into that horrid funhouse of a hallway that always seems slightly tilted and off-angle, where I pretty much ditched everyone else and booked it to the bathroom.

It’s amazing what a good vomit will do for your spirits isn’t it? I felt loads better but was dreading the next leg of our trip: a three-hour car ride to Greenup, Kentucky. A three-hour car ride with me stuffed in the tiny third-row back seat of a Volvo SUV. A three-hour car ride in a car driven by B.’s dad, who believes firmly that making good time is far more important than slowing down from 75 mph to take those hundreds of turns on curvy country backroads. I honestly can’t believe I made it out of that car alive. We arrived at our destination at around 2pm, shaky and pale and nauseous but ready to indulge in Thanksgiving goodness.

Know what the absolute best hangover cure in the world is? Ale 8 ginger ale. I’d never had it before, and learned that its distribution is limited to very specific parts of Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. It is like a goddamn miracle in a bottle. After a few sips, my stomach felt settled and my head cleared and I finally didn’t feel like curling up under a bed and dying a slow, slow death. I was then taken around the house to be introduced to uncles and aunts and cousins and tiny little babies, all while clutching my bottle of Ale 8 with a death grip. I musta drank me about twelve Ale 8’s.

Gradually, I felt hunger slowly overtake my hangover and realized I hadn’t had a thing to eat since my airport Egg McMuffin earlier that morning. I inspected the growing collection of casserole dishes and bowls and plates that had been placed on the kitchen counter, and was told by B.’s aunt what to expect. There was regular stuffing, oyster stuffing, broccoli and cheese casserole, mashed potatoes with gravy, two kinds of dumplings, ham, turkey, cranberry salad, apples cooked in sugar, baked beans with bacon, and green beans cooked within an inch of their delicious life. Hot fluffy rolls had just been brought out of the oven, and in the dining room there sat an astonishing array of pies. I was ready.

I heaped my plate with steaming stuffings and fluffy mounds of mashed potatoes; slices of turkey and ham and a block of the broccoli casserole. Room was made for two deviled eggs and a roll, a spoonful of dumplings along with a plop of cranberry salad atop the turkey. I was still a bit shaky so I begged off a glass of wine, feeling at this point that a hair of the dog would only serve to worse my already unsteady stomach.

Aside from the ginger ale, I think it’s safe to say that a Thanksgiving feast will work just as well on a hangover. I was satiated almost immediately after my first plate, but went back for more mashed potatoes, this time ladling on the gravy I’d missed the first time around. It was everything you’d want out of a Thanksgiving meal; salty and full of carbs and meat and every sort of comfort food you can dream of. When the meal had petered out, we retired to the den to watch football in a tryptophan haze. I slept sporadically, waking up here and there to snuggle a baby or grab another glass of water.

Around 7 or so, I was about ready for dessert. I was itching to try the chocolate pie I’d seen sitting on the dessert table; it was smooth and creamy-looking with a perfect crust. The pumpkin roll was also tempting me with its ho-ho-like swirls of cream and pumpkin cake. I loaded a plate with a slice of the chocolate pie and a slice of pumpkin roll and retreated back to my spot on the couch. If you’ve never had chocolate pie, readers, then you are missing out on one of the most delightful dessert experiences I’ve ever had. Each bite was soft but slightly dense, infused with chocolate flavor and supported by a flaky, slightly crumbly crust.  The pumpkin roll, iced with frosting and thick as a slice of bread made for a perfect second dessert.

The time came to say our goodbyes for the night, and take off for B.’s cousins house where we’d be staying the weekend.  “Wait til you see breakfast,” everyone kept saying as we were leaving. “Just wait til you see breakfast.”