I got to make two chocolate cakes – one a Guinness cake and one a chocolate buttermilk cake with raspberries and whipped cream – for a family that had the highest bid on my silent auction item. One reason I don’t do much with my Cakeplate biz anymore is because of the delivery issues in this town: treacherous driveways, no sidewalks, forest roads that would challenge all manner of hobbits and fairy folk. Nothing like getting your cake with one side smashed. So Mr. Halfstory helped me deliver these Thanksgiving morning. What you don’t see is my snappy and attractive cap pulled down over unbrushed hair. Early Christmas gift to you!
The family then climbed into the truck and sped over to my sister’s. I declared “def pod 3” status on the way over to alleviate the already brewing verbal and physical jostling. I know we’re supposed to have meaningful conversations on road trips but the offspring are all veteran members of the Justice League, remember, and if you don’t classify a metal song correctly or know who played second base for the Giants 17 years ago, well, may some god keep watch over your soul. I am adamantly against DVD players in cars – they should be looking out the windows – but I embrace iPodism. Plug ’em in if you got ’em and we’ll catch up later (we always do). We have basic rules on Thanksgiving: don’t stand near Grandpa when he’s carving the turkey; profanity will ensue. Just say yes to whatever Aunty Sandy gives you from her closet. It’s easier and even if you think you won’t wear the plaid beret, you will. All divorced guys get the leftovers. This peeves Mr. Halfstory. We have never been a big leftover clan but now, with several divorces and a bunch of young sporadically-employed nephews, his status has dropped to somewhere near the dog breathing on the patio window. Avoid Uncle Keith, unless you’re feeling very confident and you like your hair. Also avoid Aunty Sue unless you want to be pelted with personal questions like, “so you’re leaving Janine alone for Christmas?” No commenting if sub-par R&B starts playing. Make sure Grammy’s champagne is flowing; it’s safer.
This reminds me of a book I read a while back, This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper. I really hope I haven’t mentioned this before, but if I did, my bad. If I had a brain cell these days, it would be lonely. The book is a romp, albeit a poignant one, about a writer who comes back home to the town he basically dissed in his book. Drama happens, as does enlightenment. The sons talk to each other in authentic ways. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a good, edgy family story.
And I can’t talk enough about David Sedaris, who manages to be wicked and appreciative of life’s minutae in the same essay. I revisit Holidays on Ice every year, as much as I check in with Scrooge, the Grinch’s puppy, and Violet dancing around Charlie Brown’s little tree (all worthy holiday endeavors). Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory is sweet, heartbreaking and remarkably straightforward for Truman. But It’s A Wonderful Life is not on my list. George Bailey haunts me. I just want him to get the heck away from that town. Run, George. Run now. One little stinkin’ trip to Europe with Donna Reed! Couldn’t someone else count the disappearing bank funds? It always bugged me how helpless they all were without him, but I guess that’s not the point. This is what happens when, as a child, you watch mature movies with your friend, Malibu Barbie.
One final note: if there’s a Cost Plus near you check out the full set of Lord of the Rings Pez dispensers. It was an incredible sight. If I knew how to transfer a picture from my free-with-the-cereal phone, I’d show you. Don’t buy them, though. $19.99! Please just give that to a worthy cause.