Thanksgiving has always been an ironic sort of holiday for me. Anyone who knows me somewhat well understands that my parents are more often a source of stress and anxiety than of comfort. My dad is a 71-year-old-know-it-all-know-nothing man-child and my mother is the human incarnation of a hummingbird--unsettlingly and nervously energetic. Many of their attempts to be helpful, loving, and encouraging achieve the opposite effect. Thanksgiving was a cornucopia of examples of this.
In the moment, especially after staying in a hotel for 2.5 days with my mother and father and hosting them in my apartment/"happy place" for another full day, these things made me furious. I'm inclined to believe that my blood pressure was 25% higher while around my parents. The harangues about my "poor academic choices" at Princeton and about how my "rude, angry temperament" prevented me from getting the jobs I wanted were upsetting. It made it hard for me to be thankful on Thanksgiving, or at the very least appreciative of the things they'd bought for me over the weekend when all of it was paired with the emotional whiplash.
Now that they've left (at 7AM, no less), these episodes are pretty hilarious and make for decent comedic writing material. Not to mention, writing about my family (privately or semi-publicly) helps me cope and reckon a little more with the shortening of my fuse and the parent-induced defeatism that happens when I see them. For now, here's the most amusing scene from the weekend: "My dad and the vacuum."
For those of you who have never met my dad, he's a 71-year-old lawyer with an inappropriate, crusty sense of humor to match the equally crusty office in which he's practiced law for over 40 years. He's a fervent OSU alum, undergraduate and law school, and despite being smart and ostensibly capable, he makes my mother do everything, from cooking to searching for things on the internet to fixing the television. Those who know him would agree that it's a miracle he doesn't need her to go to the bathroom. His main physical identifier is a solid, basketball-like paunch that is concealed in a 3-day-old large or extra large shirt during the day but, like a regular werewolf, comes out at night. Imagine Steven Spielberg's E.T. in a pair of Polo Ralph Lauren tightie-whities: that's my dad between 8PM and 8AM on any given day. Even if there are people doing service calls to the house.
Among his many eccentricities is his love of QVC and the Home Shopping Network. I think he could have earned an AMEX Black Card for the amount of money he has spent with them. His favorite things to buy? Home goods. Especially vacuums.
So sometime a few years ago, in a typical show of Home Shopping Network gluttony, my dad had acquired another vacuum. Yesterday, he insists on giving it to me. I already have three in the apartment, all from my dad, given to me a mere two months ago, and I only use one. Proud to grant me my fourth hand-me-down vacuum, my dad proceeds to clean old-new vacuum by smacking the extension components into my toilet until all the dirt comes out of them. You might expect, given that he was cleaning a vacuum that he might vacuum the dirt that just came out of the apparatus. Nope. Despite his constant insistence that I keep the apartment clean, he leaves the dirt scattered on the floor surrounding the toilet. It looks like my toilet got violently sick and started angrily vomiting owl pellets. I freak out and take the one vacuum I use consistently, my "little dustbuster that could," to the floor and vacuum the mess from the other vacuum, which I plan to move into my little storage locker later this morning (to collect dust, no less). I then vacuum the sandwich crumbs from the hoagie my dad brought into my wheat-free apartment and wop my head into a pillow while putting on 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" season 2. Mesmerized by the rhinestone-studded ensembles of these highly vain but just as highly entertaining 40-something to 60-something women, I feel a little better, reminding myself that my father isn't the only prima donna in the world--he's just the one getting the least screen time.
(Now, LM, SG, AR, and JT, you understand why I, even four drinks in, was manically cleaning up the cooking stuff at your place after the "Guerilla-Martha Stewart" baking a week or so back. My parents have made me insane like that.)
What I was most thankful for on Thanksgiving? To be honest, it was the prospect of it being over. And what am I most thankful for in the moment that I conclude this post?