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Thanksgiving Bird

Thanksgiving Bird
By C. J. Morace

The Thanksgiving table at our Fort Thomas, Kentucky, home took all four boards to accommodate the adults of our family every year.


We started with a table that sat ten normally - five of us children, my parents, my great aunt and my grandmother with room for one guest - usually and often a neighbor child we'd begged to supper or a visiting maiden aunt. Then by extending the table ends we would add the boards which stored themselves beneath the table top. Adding all four boards made our dining room table stretch to fourteen feet long and two seating wide. At its full extension it reached under the archway into the living room.

On Thanksgiving the "little kids" and babies were fed first, then the middle size children sat at folding tables in the living room and the adults sat at the big table. Accompanied by my cousin, Judy, who had recently turned fourteen, I joined the adults at the big table for the first time the year I celebrated my thirteenth birthday. It was a milestone in both our lives and probably would have been memorable for a good many reasons but the bird made it even more so.

I was blessed with this large and wonderful German/Dutch family, three aunts and an uncle on my mother's side, the Kramers, and two uncles from my father's side, the Pleimanns. By adding in-laws, Trautman, Donnemeyer and Messman (and their in-laws sometimes), we had quite a table full, honoring the tradition of family celebration.

The center space of the table after putting down this many place settings was never quite large enough to hold all the food that my mother and aunts would prepare for the feast and it was therefore necessary for some dishes to be "in transit" throughout the meal.

Food was passed right to left and left to right amid polite requests of "potatoes please," "pass the peas," and "may I have the gravy." If the adults were deep in conversation they merely accepted the dish coming at them with a nudge on their sleeve and then passed it to the person on the other side until it reached its destination. Several of my uncles were passionately bent on many subjects and with the dinner wine following the cocktails were generally deeply into their subjects by suppertime. Given the nudge they would accept the proffered dish, not break stride in their dissertations on whatever topic and attempt to pass it to the next person.

But often, that particular dish had already made its rounds and no one needed more of its contents, so the person to the side of them would ignore the gesture. There also was no room to set it down on the table either. These good fellows went through many a meal talking non-stop and holding a bowl or platter. They would pause every once in a while and attempt to push it right or left in vain and look at the lack of open surface on the table, then be distracted enough to go right back to their conversation, holding the dish, pushing it right or left automatically until someone relieved them with a request for seconds.

Sometimes to properly emphasize their opinions my uncles felt it necessary to stand at the table and gesture over us to make their point. My first and most memorable Thanksgiving at the adult table started with my Uncle Bill rising to take the entire Democratic Party to task, I no longer remember over what. He stood and began waving his arms - up and down - back and forth. From the opposite side of the table my cousin and I noticed that behind my uncle, Grandma's little blue parakeet, Petey was forced to repeatedly duck from the waving hands as they passed over his cage. The parakeet was a strange little fowl…he didn't like to stay in his cage, instead he stayed on top. He was now running back and forth across the top of the box shaped cage as my uncle's open palms swiped at the air around him.

Then, as we watched the scene changed and the little bird became irritated by the things swooping near him and instead of retreating he was now charging at the offending hands every time they neared the cage. He chased the hand back and forth and we started giggling at the behind the scenes action to Uncle Bill's speech which went on for a few minutes. Then there was a crescendo to the tirade, and Uncle Bill threw his hands back forcefully…and Petey, the parakeet, latched on, clamping his sharp little beak down on Uncle Bill's index finger for all he was worth.

We watched in total amazement as my pained uncle whipped his attacked appendage forward and thrust Petey off of his grip…directly into the middle of the Thanksgiving table and a large dish of mashed potatoes! The shrieks and squawks from the injured orator were matched with the bird's indignant distress at his potato coated state. Needless to say no one was able to react very capably to aid either combatant. Petey climbed out of the potatoes and proceeded to march the entire length of the table until he toppled off the edge weighed down by the potatoes and was rescued by my grandmother. He had given a whole new meaning to a Thanksgiving "bird" for me.

The Thanksgiving Bird

By C. J. Morace

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RAW October 16 2021 408 0 comments 0 out of 0 ratings

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