Saturday, May 26, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 12

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on November 26th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 38 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 14, Issue 38

Flu, sex, and a raw bird

The holiday celebrations might differ, but it's the family that counts


We only recently re-introduced the practice of saying grace at our dinner table. We’ve always had a formal dinner as a family, but saying grace has always been something that has come and gone. No matter your views on religion, I don’t think anyone can argue that taking time out of your day to be thankful for what you have is a bad thing.

I watch my kids struggle with finding something to be thankful for—because, you know, clothing, video games, sports equipment, and phones don’t qualify—and I realize how much my own perspective has changed. I have a lot for which to be thankful.

Right now, I’m thankful I have the flu.

It was Thanksgiving weekend 14 years ago that my husband and I got married. Ron got the flu that day. The poor guy—and at the reception with many of our wedding guests—was throwing up every five to seven minutes that sunny, November day. Determined to get through the vows, he asked the pastor to cut the ceremony short. He stood there and persevered. Then, on our honeymoon, I got sick.

Now every year since, I commemorate our anniversary by getting the flu that special week, but I am thankful for that somewhat dubious reminder of my wonderful spouse.

It’s a bit ironic to me that though I haven’t in the past been able to recognize all that I should be thankful for, my favorite holiday has always been Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for those early years Ron and I had to split holidays between families, even though at the time it may have been a pain. We decided on Christmas Eve with my folks and Thanksgiving Day with Ron’s mom. It gave us equal time with our families and cherished memories.

Christmas Eve with my family has always been perfect and magical and wonderful and that’s exactly how I remember Thanksgivings with my mother-in-law Mary—casual family gatherings with plenty of perfect food.

These days my family’s home is the destination for our Thanksgiving feasts. And while our Christmas Eve celebrations have always been something I’m fond of, Thanksgiving is missing the magic.

“It’s not perfect,” I remind Ron when we start to make Thanksgiving plans, to which he always retorts, “Thanksgiving is about family; that’s all that counts.”

Maybe it’s because now my family is “our” family, and “our” family is the only family we have left. And therein is how my perspective on thankfulness changed.

In the past I’ve had a hard time with my family’s delivery of Thanksgiving. I can accept Christmas as a lowbrow, casual affair—you know, baby in a manger and all—but I hold Thanksgiving to a higher standard. I want my napkins in cutesy rings, my wine in special glasses, and my food to be drizzled with exotically fancy sauces and to have names that end with weird words like “chutney” or “ganache.”

I might not be a big eater, but those two bites I have of each dish better count. They should make me moan and ahh like an audience member at a performance from the Thunder From Down Under ensemble and not the way I moaned and ahhed during my honeymoon—during which I had the flu, remember.

Unfortunately that’s not so. Usually, Thanksgiving is like our typical weekly get-togethers, but with turkey. Still, I’m now thankful for that.

I’m thankful for that one year when the innermost parts of the turkey were raw but we were all very polite about it.

I’m thankful for the year everyone disregarded the dish they were obligated to bring and instead brought pie, leaving my mother to scramble through the cupboards for extra sides.

I’m even thankful for the Thanksgiving when I was still single and our holiday was interrupted by a family argument, which caused one senior member of the family to declare the day over and to throw all non-residents out of the house. Subsequently, my sister and I spent Thanksgiving in a Santa Barbara Kenny Rogers Roasters.

Then, of course, there was the year I hosted Thanksgiving.

It was fantastic. Food was out on time, no fights erupted, and everyone brought a dish. Apparently, someone’s “dish” was hotter than the others. There were a lot of people in my house that day and no one will ever admit to it, but someone got “busy” in my master suite bathroom. Don’t ask how I know that.

I didn’t find out until later in the day, but I was mad. My perfect Thanksgiving was flawed by the fact that an over-amorous couple decided to use the facilities in a manner unintended—a manner unintended by me, anyway.

Years later, I am even thankful for that day just like I am for all those thanksgivings past. Because no matter how mad you get at the situation, no matter how bad the food is, how amorous your sibling is, how frustrating your parent is, how stubborn your child is, how difficult your spouse is—you still have those people in your life.

Some day, if not now, my kids will be thankful for that. For now, though, I’ll take comfort in knowing their perspectives will one day change, and just sit back and enjoy their Three Stooges-esque dinner table interactions.


Shelly Cone is waiting—and secretly hoping for—
the Thanksgiving Day a food fight breaks out. 
Contact her through the managing editor at

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