…More Than Sweet Potatoes

Thanksgiving Our Way (or the Highway) – Note: Epic Length Follows (T.W.he.S!)

**Warning, this is a long post, which is why it’s being posted on Wednesday rather than Thursday…thought you could use an extra day to read, love and appreciate it.**

While Thanksgiving is a National holiday celebrated by Americans all over, it stands to reason that each person celebrates the same holiday quite differently.  While some families have ham, others have turkey and still others may have a Turducken.  Chander Bing has grilled cheese sandwiches and Funions.  Everyone is different.  So regardless of if it is generic and similar to every one of my readers’ holiday weekends, I’ve decided to describe Thanksgiving as it was celebrated by my family.

Cast of Characters: Mom and Dad, Steve (my brother) and Dawn (his wife) and kids: Miles (16,) Cheyenne (13,) and Lakota (6;) Joanne (my sister) and Chris (her husband) and kids: Brandon (4,) and Hannah (2;) Erin (my best friend and Thanksgiving/Passover/other times adopted family member) and Debbie (me.**)
Setting: Joanne and Chris’ place in Chicago proper.
Wednesday my sister and mom came to pick me up.  I spent a little time talking to my family and then went to bed in order to wake up on Thursday EARLY.  Typically for Thanksgiving I begin my prep work the day before – brine the turkey, chop up veggies, roast squash for soup, make cranberry sauce.  This year I landed at 10:30pm local time, so there was no time for that.  I should point out that my dad had brined the turkey and intended to cook the whole thing himself, so I let him.  My mom also pre-made a brisket (which is actually the correct way to make it…make it, let it cool and reheat the next day for serving) for the following reasons: (1) Cheyenne asked her to, (2) it was also Hanukkah night two – Thanksgivukkah, if you will – and, (3) my mom makes a fucking fantastic brisket.
Thursday I woke up well before everyone else (around 6:30am) and began my kitchen work.  I did NOT drink wine – for the first Thanksgiving since I turned 21 – while cooking.  I also didn’t cut myself, severely or otherwise, or burn myself this year…but let’s pretend those two facts are not related so I can justify going back to being a oenophile next year.  Erin arrived with appetizer deliciousness (seriously, deliciousness – a brie cheese dip with bread and what has since been dubbed “trail chunks.”)  My brother and his family arrived with some side dishes as well.  Somewhere along the line I attempted to make a Thanksgiving themed alcoholic drink with sparkling grape juice, fresh juiced apples and Captain Morgan.  It didn’t work and that’s all I’ll say about that.  We ate and ate.  Then we did what we do every year – we opened Hanukkah presents.  How lucky are we that the calendar aligned with what we do all the time?!  So we started opening our gifts from youngest to oldest.  THAT little progression made me miss the times before my siblings had families and I got to go first…  After that we had apple pie, pumpkin pie and dreidels we made out of sugary candy wonderful-ness.  Next step: Sugar/Tryptophane coma.
Friday was the day of death.  While many people go Black Friday shopping, I curl up on the couch or in a chair reading, drinking water and wishing for death.  Due to medical fun, I’m not supposed to eat sugars or starches…but I did…because I fucking cooked it…so Friday was the day of hell.  Eventually I made myself do things.  My mom, dad and I went to meet my brother and his family at the bowling lanes where we played for 2 hours of amazing fun.  News: I’m still pretty damn good at bowling.  I would have loved to bowl more, but 2 hours is probably enough.  After that my dad played chauffeur to me, Erin and my bff Natalie (and Chris, her wonderful husband) so we could go to Kumas Too for dinner and drinks and have superb amounts of fun discussing what kind of horns we’d have if we had to have horns (Jason Lee as Azrael in Dogma, btw).
Saturday was LADIES DAY!  My mom, sister and I went to Hub 51 for brunch.  We spent 2-3 hours just talking and catching up and being with each other without the distraction of everyone else in the family.  Don’t get me wrong, we love everyone and love being around everyone, but we wanted to do something without the boys (and kids.)  After we went to get frozen yogurt (delicious) and to Homegoods to do some light shopping (more for my sister than myself…since I didn’t get anything.)  Then mom, dad, Jo, Chris, Erin and I went to dinner before going to a comedy show – i.e. we went to one restaurant…and then another…and then another… until we found one that would get us out in time for the show.  We ate at Black Duck which was quite good and I ordered my first “old timey” drink: a Tom Collins.  We went to see Patti Vasquez – and she was awesome.  FUNNY, engaging and – in spite of what was expected – heartwarming and heartbreaking simultaneously.  Seriously, go see her.  Find her and go see her.  We all went to dessert after and then Erin and I went OUT.  In true Erin and Debbie fashion, we went to some neighborhood bar (Burwood Tap) and closed that shit down.  Took a cab home filled with tears.
Sunday morning, on 4 hours of sleep (at best), my mom, Jo, Chris and I went to Nordstrom for a private event.  They served mimosas and water bottles, there was a coffee and hot chocolate bar; there were hors d’oeurves and plenty of people to assist us in our shopping endeavor.  Being the shopper I am (sarcasm), I ended up letting some chick give me a facial and sell me on an eye serum, face mask and a Clarisonic.  From there Jo and I departed to go to a 3 hour painting event at Both Sides.  We had a LOT of fun being “sissies” together.  We sang along with the music and danced in our seats.  We probably alarmed a lot of people, but we just do NOT care when we are together.  She painted a gorgeous tree and I painted a peacock.  Fun fact, if you happen to drip paint into your peppermint mocha coffee mug, it’s okay.  You’ll just drink it.  And you’ll be just fine.  I am proof of this.  Then it was off to the airport to fly home.  I landed in Ft. Lauderdale at 10pm, got a ride home, unpacked, took a shower and went to bed.
End of Thanksgivukkah weekend!
** If you didn’t know Debbie = Me, you should probably go back and read older blog posts to get to know me better before delving into the people in my life/family…
Bullet point list of favorite moments from the weekend other than the obvious time spent with family:
  • Belittling Miles for not carrying his drivers permit with him on Thanksgiving day: He was in a room with 8 licensed drivers over the age of 21… someone would have needed a ride somewhere… at least a sober driver would have been nice to have!
  •  Playing Apples to Apples after dinner on Thursday with Erin, my parents and Chris – Chris won
  • Getting a T-shirt that says “Just because you CAN talk doesn’t mean that you SHOULD” from the Patti Vasquez show
  • Having a complete stranger buy Erin and me shots for directing him to the bathroom and then having him walk away because he had no ulterior motive
  • This convo: Guy: “But I haven’t even made out with anyone tonight!”  Me: “And unfortunately, I’m not going to be the one to change that for you.  Sorry.”
  • (Cheyenne + Aunt Debbie + Erin + Chris) Duckface = Instagram Gold
  • Reading a Dora the Explorer book to Brandon and Hannah before Hannah’s nap time and butchering all the Spanish while using different animated voices
  •  Using the Touchtunes app on the iPhone to choose songs to “play next” on the jukebox at the bar to cause anguish on the part of the guy who had chosen songs and then stood in front of the machine in order to block others from choosing songs.  And, we chose amazing music…per usual… because we have perfect taste in music
^* Important note: I included links to the locations we went to and things we did that I thoroughly enjoyed in case you want to make your very own “Debbie’s Thanksgiving Vacation” trip…
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