A cat by any other name

Ah, tradition



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Meow to me

The whole family gathered at my older sister's house for Thanksgiving this year. It's the first time we've had Thanksgiving when it's not been at my parents' place, but considering that little sis had Christmas at her place in Washington last year, I guess older sis wanted to play too. I'm going to have to wait a year or two til I get my turn (gotta have a dining room big enough to hold everyone, see), but that's okay. It's a really good excuse to go out and buy new furniture. Or at least that appears to be what my older sister thought.

She got a new dining room table. They bought new living room furniture and new futon covers. She dithered about how the soon-to-be-baby's room wouldn't be ready and how our niece would have to see it incomplete. Considering that the niece in question is only 10 months old, the rest of us in the family didn't see as how this was so big an issue, but then, we're talking about my older sister. She worries about these sort of things.

The funniest thing she bought, however, was new dishes. See, back when we were in college, she and I managed (without planning at all) to pick out the same style of dishes. So when she called to say that she didn't have enough place servings for Thanksgiving, I expected her to ask me to bring some of mine.

Nope. Seems she decided this meant it was a good time to get all new dishes. Um. Okay. Well, I suppose it was as good an excuse as any.

Well at least now *I* have place settings for 16. Although I did ask Richard if this means that if we ever host a dinner for more than that, I got to get new dishes too. He gave me that look of tolerant amusement I'm beginning to recognize...

Anyway, despite Thanksgiving being held at a non-traditional place this year, we managed to uphold as many traditions as we could.

The drink of honor was grape Kool-aid, served in the battered old tupperware green pitcher that my mom threatens to toss every year. Don't ask me how when that got to be a tradition. Probably the same year we decided that the traditional Christmas dinner should be meatloaf, but that's a different story entirely.

We had the traditional discussion over how to cook the yams, and whether my dad makes his special family cream pies for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and when the green bean casserole was supposed to go into the oven.

I made the traditional chocolate souffle...um, okay, so the souffle itself isn't necessarily tradition. However, me making a non-pumpkin pie dessert is, since I can't stand the stuff, and after finally determining that my older sister really *did* own a souffle dish (she thought it was a casserole. Silly her), I made my very first souffle. Which rose just like it should, and then promptly fell all flat and squishy. My little sister reassured me that it was supposed to do that. Considering she's the gourmet cook in the family, I took her word for it. Flat and squishy nonetheless, it was quite yummy, especially with caramel sauce.

We took the traditional photo of the newest family baby about to be stuffed into the oven while sitting in a roasting pan filled with carrots and onions and potatoes. Yes, my family is weird. Yes, the children will probably need therapy when they're older.

We collected the traditional ammunition for years of later teasing. My niece (the 10-month old) has earned herself the nickname of 'Tiny Tank' because she tends to see what she wants and then makes a beeline for it, regardless of what might happen to be in her path. Cats, toys, small pieces of furniture are all no match for her crawling streak and woe be unto what is her intended goal. In this case, the goal was my nearly three-year old nephew, who she headed for with single-minded purpose, then promptly pulled herself up and proceeded to poke him in the eye. He retreated to the fireplace and spent the rest of the weekend eyeing her warily and saying "No pinching!" every time she came within five feet of him. We figure this'll be great fun to drag out when he's older and trying to impress a girlfriend. "Say, did we ever tell you about the time you were terrorized by your cute little niece who's so much younger than you?" If nephew is a big strapping hulk and neice is a dainty little thing, it'll be even better.

We did the traditional female shopping trip, which involves getting up at some ungodly hour of the morning when all sane people (that would be the men in the family, who usually give us a sleepy wave and a whimper for us to be kind to the credit cards - ah the things Richard gets to look forward to when he and I are married...) are still lounging in their warm cozy beds, and then going to fight crowds of other crazed women who are, like us, coming down from a cranberry sauce-and-stuffing induced high and have a suddenly insane urge to get *that outfit* before anyone else! And of course, then we had the traditional hour of standing in line to pay for all our bargains while we asked ourselves why it was that we did this every year, anyway?

And finally, we passed around the traditional Holiday Bug. This year it was some form of stomach flu wherein some of us got to experience the full joy of one's intestines deciding to empty themselves as quickly as possible through any orifice necessary. Near as we can figure, my nephew apparently picked it up from his day care and brought it home to his mother, who passed it to her husband, who then proceeded to pass it to the rest of us. At least my mom and I were home while we were sick. Poor Bil-2, who had the worst of it,- he had to do it while trying to fly back to Washington Sunday night. Ugh.

Stomach flu and spiffy trip to the emergency room aside (wherein Richard was an incredible sweetie and took wonderful care of me and hooray for the joys of modern chemistry that finally made those nasty little elves in my stomach stop twisting it into knots), it was a traditional holiday. We ate too much, we stayed up late, we laughed, we hugged, we caught up.

And now it's back to work, where, since I missed Monday (because of the aforementioned stomach flu), I had oodles of emails and voicemails to look forward to when I came in today, all marked, of course, urgent.

Today was - well, my coworker put it best.

"Too many people. Must not shoot them."

Mm hmm. And that's tradition too.