Ornamental Saga

Three years ago, my mother-in-law Kathy brought over a couple of ornaments for us.  One of them was a little mouse sitting on a candy cane.  Wildling loved it.  Each year, when we decorated the tree, she got so excited to find the little mouse and hang it up.

This year was no different.

Wildling pulled out the mouse ornament and exclaimed “I remember this one! It’s my favorite!” Of course, that meant Mellow, who is suffering from a terrible case of the terrible twos, wanted it very badly.  So Wildling very carefully hung the ornament high on the tree “so Mellow can’t break it!”

This led to Mellow throwing a massive tantrum, which involved hiding behind the tree and screaming, a scene that she will gleefully reenact if you ask her (“I behind tree screaming.  Me screamed like this ‘wah wah wah'”).

But we didn’t give in to the tantrum, and the mouse remained safely out of Mellow’s reach.

Until two days later when she asked me for it, and I figured what harm can she do?  And of course, she broke the mouse off the candy cane.  “Mama, this broken.  Papa need glue this.”

“Oh no, that’s Wildling’s favorite ornament!” I said.  She looked at me solemnly.

“Wildling be so mad at me.”

And Wildling was upset, but that night Will glued the mouse back to the candy cane, and all was well…or should have been.

The next day, the repaired mouse ornament was sitting on the table, when I set my water bottle down next to it – and my bottle fell over, crashed into the damn mouse, and knocked it off the candy cane.

That evening, when Wildling was already in a fragile meltdown state, not only did Will foolishly surprise her with the knowledge that her favorite ornament was once again broken, he also revealed that one of it’s paws was missing.

The desperate search for the paw (which, incidentally, revealed how many small white objects are on our tile floor) was set to a soundtrack of screaming, because Wildling just couldn’t handle it.

The search was fruitless, and we needed to put an end to the madness. Fortunately, I have mad google skills, and a copyright Hallmark 1981 was imprinted on the side of the candy cane. Within a few minutes, I had found several available ornaments (and discovered it originally came with a bell), and bought one for $10 on Ebay.

Not five minutes later, I walked into the kitchen, and there on the ground in plain sight was the damn mouse paw.



Thanksgivings I have known

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love it because there are no obligations other than coming together with family and friends to feast on fantastic food (#alliteration). There are no gifts to exchange, no obligatory activities, just eating and drinking and socializing.

When I was a kid, I didn’t care so much. Thanksgiving was a day we were all cooped up in the house, my three brothers were probably fighting over something, there was a football game (which I hate) on the tv, and we’d basically spend the day complaining while my mom cooked. Then we’d fight over how terribly mashed the potatoes were (because Ricky and Jack took turns mashing them, so it was very important to point out every lump), mock Danny for claiming to be allergic to turkey (actually, one year he ended up in the ER, so maybe he was), and basically make my parents regret having four children.

One year I was hospitalized with pneumonia for a week, and that happened to include Thanksgiving. I ate a surprisingly good turkey meal with my mom at the hospital while my dad and brothers had cheese sandwiches at home (mom told him he had to get the turkey in the oven early, clearly he did not listen).

I didn’t start enjoying Thanksgiving until I was out of college and no longer obligated to go to my parents house (it helped that I had moved a thousand miles away). My first Thanksgiving away from home was awesome – some friends and I had our turkey dinner on Wednesday, and then the following day took a road trip to spend the weekend in Vegas, where we ate ourselves sick at various buffets and wandered around the strip. No gambling though – as poor penny-pinching grad students we couldn’t afford to just throw our money away.

The next few years I participated in the ‘Orphans Dinner,’ where those of us (mostly grad students) who didn’t have anywhere else to go came together for an awesome potluck. I even hosted it twice. One year we pit roasted a turkey in my backyard. Another year my roommate and I volunteered to host because we wanted the leftovers. We bought the biggest turkey in the store, and were absolutely shocked when all twenty-eight pounds of it were completely devoured. There was barely even a skeleton left.

When Will and I moved a thousand miles away (and still a thousand miles from my parents – this is a really big country), we had much smaller Thanksgivings. One year, when it was just us, we went to Whole Foods and bought a bunch of fancy cheeses and just sat in front of a roaring fire eating cheese and crackers, and drinking wine. I feel a little nostalgic thinking of that.

Since we moved back here, we’ve always hosted Will’s parents and grandmother, and sometimes some friends as well. It’s become a relaxing day at home, good food, plenty of wine, and someone else to hold the baby.

Since Wildling was a baby, I’ve been looking forward to her being able to help in the kitchen. Today she helped me make pomegranate candies using pomegranates from our tree, and chocolate mousse (while she repeated can I lick the spoon now? are you done with it yet? now can I have it? ad nauseam). I don’t know what kind of traditions we’re going to create, or what kind of memories she’ll have, but I hope she grows to love cooking together. I’ve told her before that when we cook healthy delicious food for people, that’s a way of showing them we love them. I hope she understands that, and I hope she sees the love that goes into preparing a Thanksgiving feast for our family.