Column: Thanksgiving at Our House By SUSAN PARKER

Tuesday November 29, 2005

On Wednesday morning I go to the store and buy onions, Brussels sprouts, butter, cranberries, and $195 worth of other edibles and non-edibles. I start cooking. 

At noon Willie returns from the church where he’d gone to pick up his pre-ordered turkey. He is turkey-less. “Riots,” is all he says, and we leave it at that. I tell him I have bought two turkeys. We don’t need a third. 

At 5 p.m. I pick up Bryce at school, then swing by Mrs. Ewing’s to get Clyiesha. I bring the kids home, and continue cooking. The kids disappear upstairs on a mission to destroy the attic.  

I finish roasting one turkey at 9 p.m., de-stuff it, and get the other turkey prepped for tomorrow. At 10 p.m. we have a pre-Thanksgiving snack of cornbread and mashed potatoes. Then I go to bed. I need my rest. 

Up early on Thursday morning, I roast the second turkey. Now it’s time to clean and set the table. The kids wake up and I serve them Frosted Flakes and send them out into the garden to look for worms. Cooking, cleaning, cleaning, cooking—it goes on for hours. Andrea prepares an enormous pot of collard greens and starts in on the gravy. She must time everything just right because she has to help Ralph out of bed at 4 p.m., and fix her hair. 

At 3 p.m. I am done, but our guests won’t arrive until 5. I return to the store for beverages. Although I was planning on having an alcohol-free Thanksgiving, I have changed my mind. I need a drink. Maybe two. 

I pick up Mrs. Ewing and granddaughter Poo, return home and make everyone a Shirley Temple. It’s almost time for our other guests to arrive. 

At the appointed hour, Annie comes to the front door with Julian, Deja, Shauna, and little Juan. We put out hors d’oeuvres and mix up a pitcher of Shirley Temples. The kids run wild in the backyard looking for more worms. 

Kameka, Terrance, and Tiashanae sprint in to pick up the sweet potato pie Mrs. Ewing has baked for them, (one of 15 she has made for relatives and friends). They stay long enough for a picture to be knocked off the wall, two fights to erupt over worm ownership, one child to be bitten (superficially) by Whiskers. 

Dion shows up in front of the house and we tell him to go away. 

Six p.m. and my brother, sister-in-law, niece and their friend James have still not arrived. We decide to eat without them. 

Six-o-five they finally show. We can all eat together, which we do. 

At 7 p.m. Martin carries in three gargantuan trays of a Pakistani version of Thanksgiving, leftovers from a homeless feed. Industrial-size serving dishes of rice, curried vegetables, and turkey meatballs cover the kitchen counters. We are too full to eat anything more so we package it up and save it for tomorrow. 

Hans arrives empty-handed and hungry. There are plenty of leftovers for him on the dining room table. 

Big Bobby picks up Hertha and Poo. He is wearing his bedroom slippers and says he can’t stay. 

Annie and company leave just as Teddy and granddaughter Kiley arrive. They are looking for respite from all the activity at their house. I tell them they are welcome but that we are short on respite. 

Willie comes in the backdoor as Andrea leaves through the front door. She hands over the responsibility of assisting Ralph into bed to Hans, and the dishes to me. Kanna Jo, John, Yuka, James, and Martin depart. Teddy and Kiley take off. Ralph and Willie go to bed; Clyiesha, Bryce and Hans remain. 

I finish the dishes. At 2 a.m. Bryce wakes up with night terrors. At 4:10 Andrea drags herself home. At 5:36 a.m. Hans leaves for an N.A. meeting. 

At 7:57 a.m. we start in on the leftovers.