We sat around the table Friday, enjoying our Thanksgiving lunch at work. One by one, we announced our plans for Thanksgiving.
Most were spending with their families, with large gatherings to be had.
For the last 20 years or so, I’ve been lucky enough to get two Thanksgivings in one day. The folks who used to live next door to my parents have always been good to me. When they moved to the coast, they made sure that I had a standing invitation to Thanksgiving dinner at their house on the Half Moon River and Christmas Eve dinner back in town.
Of course, that meant missing a little bit of Thanksgiving back at Donahue Manor.
For the last five years, Thanksgiving dinner with the family has meant me and the brothers. It’s Thanksgiving with a handful of grumpy bachelors.
It will be me, big brother No. 1, big brother No. 2, big brother No. 4 and a buddy of big brother No. 2’s. Big brother No. 3’s whereabouts are unknown. Don’t really know where he is. Not exactly looking for him, either.
Big brother No. 1 has never been married. Neither has big brother No. 2, though he came close once. Big brother No. 3 was married. Big brother No. 4 can’t get married — the church rather frowns on its men of the cloth having wives. Me? My palm reader said I would get married late in life. So what’s the rush?
I don’t get to see big brother No. 2 as much as I used to, or even as much as I’d like. Of us five boys, big brother No. 1 is not working. Neither is No. 2. No. 4 is between assignments. And I have no idea what No. 3 is doing but he hasn’t held a steady job since the Reagan administration. But between us, there are four bachelor’s degrees and I believe three master’s degrees. So at least we’re book smart.
I don’t know what my two sisters are doing for Thanksgiving. One is married; the other is not, and they live on separate coasts.
Yeah, I know, Mom and Dad didn’t exactly leave this Earth on a good note knowing that of their seven kids, they were 2-for-7 in getting them married off and one of those didn’t last.
Back in the old days, the Old Man would go the commissary on Fort Stewart and get what was quite possibly the largest turkey he could find. It often topped 20 pounds. Our neighbors would marvel at the size of the bird dad would bring home. He would, naturally, be up all night cooking it. Dad didn’t do much of the cooking in the house, except when it came time to put a turkey in the oven. And then, the kitchen was his domain. You did not enter — for anything. He would make his hamburger stuffing away from prying eyes, though he eventually shared his secret recipe.
Every few years, all of us would be home, all seven kids and maybe somebody would bring someone over for dinner, too. Before he retired from the Army, Dad would sometimes make sure one of the soldiers in his section who was far from home would get a meal with us. With 20-plus pounds of turkey, there’d be plenty to go around. There was enough for a platoon.
Big brother No. 1 has taken over the cooking role and he’s actually quite good at it. He does not get a 20-pounder. He’s not feeding an entire unit — just a handful of bachelors sitting around, complaining about how bad the NFL games on are.
There will be turkey, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole (I like broccoli. I could do without broccoli casserole), hamburger stuffing (don’t laugh), Copenhagen snuff and beer. Big brothers No. 1 and 4 are fond of Copenhagen. Me and No. 2? Thanks, but we don’t want to spoil our appetite.
Besides, I’ve got to get to the coast for more Thanksgiving.