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Thanksgiving is a time when each of us should reflect on the blessings which have graciously been bestowed upon us. Not only should appreciation be given for the material possessions we have but we should also give thanks for our wonderful friends and family. However, I recall a Thanksgiving Day many years ago that, for some of those in my family, brought into question the idea of giving thanks.

David, may God be with you, and his family consisting of wife, Kim, son, Zach and daughter, Samantha, were to be my wife, Robin, may God be with her too, and my guest for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. Robin told David that the meal would be served around 3 p.m. that Thursday afternoon and of course his brother, Rob and wife, Chris, and daughter, Sarah, would also be in attendance. I recall that the telephone conversation between Robin and David ended as she said, "now make sure you all come hungry and ready to eat 'cause I'm making all your favorite things;" "OK, mom."

The week leading up to the day of the feast passed quickly and the day before and Thanksgiving Day itself found the sounds of clanking pots and pans wafting through our country home. The trees that filled the woods behind our home had shed their leaves and I knew that winter was not far off.

As I recall, the day was particularly warm for that time of year and, as the morning transitioned into early afternoon, Robin asked if I would remove the traditional tablecloth from the old sideboard and place it on the dining room table. This would unquestionably interrupt my viewing of the televised football game but I supposed it was very little to ask. After all, Robin had been toiling in the kitchen for two days.

Robin loaded the table with plates and bowls filled with every consumable that one might imagine. Our best, and rarely used, glasses were placed alongside each table setting as was the Rogers 1881 silverware left to her by her grandmother. I had to admit that the picture of that table and assorted toppings was beautiful and impressive.

Rob and Chris arrived on time, as was their custom, but David's family had not yet made their appearance. They were late, as was their custom; an annoying but usually overlooked practice which the rest of the family often joked about.

As Rob and Chris admired the assortment of foods atop the table, Chris made mention of the beautiful dinner and silverware.

"The table looks beautiful."

"Thanks," Robin acknowledged her compliment. "The silverware once belonged to my grandmother."

"I think their car just pulled up," Rob said as all of us heard the sound of a vehicle stopping behind the house.

Robin seemed somewhat relieved. "It's about time."

This is when this story transitions to the dark side. David and his brood entered the kitchen, each carrying a McDonald's cup containing some sort of liquid refreshment. To add insult to injury, Kim and David each held a McDonald's labeled sack and, now this is the part of the story that sent Robin over the edge, David was eating a Big Mac sandwich.

The tardy son acknowledged his mother's stare, "What," he asked as he chewed a Big Mac morsel. It was then that I thought the situation might erupt into, well into who knew what.

As a brief moment transitioned into what seemed like a very long and awkward silence, David's next action provoked his mother into a hissy fit. David wiped a glistening glob of secret sauce from the corner of his mouth.

It was then that I did my best to preserve David's young and somewhat flawed life. While Robin's face turned a soft red, I slid my left hand onto the handle of the nearby carving knife, thus preventing the enraged cook from more crudely removing the sauce and possibly a portion of her son's lip.

However, should I remove my left hand from that knife, thus allowing Robin to pick it up and cut that glob of secret sauce from David's lip, could there be a jury in the land that would find her guilty of anything at all, particularly a jury comprised of women who each year slaved over hot stoves to prepare Thanksgiving dinners. I thought not. In fact, the female filled courtroom would most likely erupt with the sound of cheers and applause as the not guilty verdict was read.

To be quite honest, I suppose it was more likely that she might hurl the Heisey plantation bowl of cranberry sauce at him; and as a side note now that I am able to make an acknowledgment, I never much cared for Robin's cranberry sauce.

Should Robin wrestle that sharp bladed instrument from my hand, I was silently rehearsing my witness statement which would be provided to the responding police officer. "Yes, that's right officer. She, referring to the lady holding the bloody carving knife, with motherly intent and quite justifiably, I might add, removed a small dab of McDonald's secret sauce from David's lip."

"We were hungry," David said as the awkward moment slowly passed.

"I told you we were having a Thanksgiving day meal and I slaved for days to get it ready."

"It's OK, I'm still hungry and I plan on eating a lot."

"You better," Robin threatened.

Motivated by the threat, David did try his best to make a dent in the sheer enormity of edible items but just grazed. The other bad Fine's made absolutely no attempt to enjoy the meal. They had a few olives and each ate a piece of pumpkin pie. I think I saw Robin's hair stand on end as Zach's hand rummaged through the McDonald's sack finding that last French fry.

The afternoon passed and the kids and their families left for their homes. I helped Robin clear the table and began to place plates in the dishwasher when she stopped me.

"Don't worry about anything else I'll take care of the plates and bowls."

I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was just as angry then as she had been earlier. Not wanting to antagonize her, I took a seat in the family room. It was then that Robin entered the room.

There was little doubt that she was still peeved as I had over the years learned to detect Robin's moods by her body movements. That rigid head that stared straight ahead as if to grant me no notice and that quick pace in her stride were all indications that she was angry. With each step, her foot struck the ground soundly and with purpose.

I thought it odd that Robin, carrying an unknown cargo in her hands, walked through the family room and through the doorway which led to the rear deck. Surrounding the deck was nothing more than bare ground with an assortment of scattered trees that grew more in number as the distance from the house became greater and the woods became closer.

I dared not question her as to her intentions as I perceived that her mood had not mellowed since the special sauce incident. However, after the passage of what must surely have been less than a minute, she returned to the family room and returned less her hand-filled cargo.

Thinking the icy atmosphere might be broken, I considered bringing up what I considered to be a very non-confrontational subject; that of the leftover turkey.

"Let me know when you're finished in the kitchen so I can carve up the turkey for turkey sandwiches."

You see, for me, the best part of Thanksgiving was the thought of days of mayonnaise covered turkey carefully arranged between two slices of white, not wheat, bread.

I anticipated nothing more than an, "OK," answer, so I was unpleasantly surprised and somewhat confused with her response.

"Well, you better get a shovel because the leftover turkey meat is outside on the ground."

That answered the question as to what was being carried when she left the house, but her motives were still unclear, at least to me.

The time had come for me to probe into Robin's motives.

"I guess I'm a little confused. You know I always like the leftover turkey, so why in the world would you toss it on the ground. I didn't stop at McDonald's. Can I at least put the uneaten mashed potatoes in a Tupperware container?"

"Oh, you want mashed potatoes. Well this is your lucky day because while you sweep up the turkey, you'll get some of the potatoes that are covering it."

Robin, with no more conversation, left the room walking into the kitchen. I dared not inquire about the status of the uneaten pumpkin pie.

I, and for no more than a moment, considered discussing the matter further with Robin, but I now and freely admit, that I took the cowardly way out and, as they say, let sleeping dogs lie. With no discussion regarding her intentions and very unceremoniously Robin had disposed of the turkey, potatoes, stuffing and dinner rolls. Not to be rationalized by either she or I; the uneaten cranberry sauce had been spared from the other food's fate, unfortunately, I thought.

The following day, Robin's cantankerous nature dissipated and she traveled to the nearby Kroger Grocery store, bought a small turkey and cooked it, just for me. For several days, I enjoyed the flavor of refrigerated white turkey meat drenched in oodles of mayonnaise, all sandwiched between two slices of fresh white bread.

That fateful day would later come to be known as "David's Debacle" or "The Great Thanksgiving Day Fiasco of 1998." This incident should not be confused with the "Thanksgiving Day Chocolate Covered Donut farce of 1977;" but then I already told you that story.

Christmas came and as we approached the table with the holiday-themed tablecloth; I could have sworn I detected the unmistakable odor of a Jack in the Box taco on David's breath. I made no mention of the scent as each of us filled our plates with food as I clearly remembered the Thanksgiving Day fiasco.

Stan Fine is a retired police officer and Verizon Security Department investigator who, after retiring in 2006, moved from Tampa, Fla., to Noel, Mo. Stan's connection to Noel can be traced back to his grandparents who lived most of their lives there. Stan began writing after the passing of his wife Robin in 2013. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 11/28/2019

Print Headline: The Great Thanksgiving Day Fiasco of 1998

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