thanksgiving dysfunctional therapy stories (plus some jokes).

A Thanksgiving joke from Miss M to all of you:

What kind of turkey opens any door?

A Moose-Turkey! 

HAHAHAHA! Get it?! It's a moose but also a turkey! And it can open all the doors!

We also discovered this Thanksgiving that the word "poop" sends M into peals of giggles, every single time. Like, you can just look at her, say "Poop," and she's on the floor peeing her pants with laughter. I let her know the UK word for toilet is "loo" which, of course, rhymes with "poo" and this sent her into even more hysterics. ("Poo in the loo! Loo in the poo! Poop in the loop! Loop Poop!" I sense I'll eventually regret sharing this knowledge.)

She's sitting next to me as I type this, and has requested I share one more Thanksgiving joke with all my readers, should there be any:

What kind of cheese can open any door?


Get it?! It's funny because it's cheese...made out of Poop! That opens all the doors! HAHAHAHA.

Hoo. Boy. Somebody stop her. (My sister in law remarked at dinner, and I happen to agree with her, that six year olds are still very much like drunk people. To all the 1-6 year old people out there: you're drunk, go home.)

I saw lots of bitter humor pictures on the internet about celebrating National Steal Land and Native American Genocide Day and all that, which makes my inner namby pansy left-winger cringe with guilt. But really, angry fellow liberals: that's only 1/100 of why we celebrate this very American holiday. This holiday is SUPPOSED to be about being with people you love and reflecting on what you do have and gorging yourself on obscene amounts of food. Or, you know, ordering an extra large pizza and drinking a lot. However you choose to celebrate.

I have lots of things to be thankful for--a ridiculous, silly girl...a family that instigates far right wing political talk just so they can sit back and laugh at me...a life of privileged conveniences in which I never have to worry about being deported back to the foreign slums I escaped from with my very life and/or being gunned down in cold blood on the depressed streets of a St. Louis-area suburb...you know, just the regular things. (That last part was for my conservative family/friends reading this--stop poking me with your Rush Limbaugh sticks of death. Love you! Hugs!) I'm also thankful for good friends, laughter, and those every-now-and-then moments when I really feel connected to this weird, crazy planet and its inhabitants.

I have a lot of friends who are struggling with health issues right now, or deeply worried about family members who are struggling or losing battles with health. I am thinking about people I love who experienced their first big holiday today without someone important. Those firsts are always the hardest, I think. I am thinking about each of them but also the people who still have their important people but are worried they won't for much longer or, even worse, know they have limited moments left and this may be the last Thanksgiving. I am sending all of my love, and all of the biggest, strongest light and love I can muster to them. It's hard to be a human. Maybe because it's so heartbreakingly fleeting. Be thankful for every drop, every second you are given. Drink it all up, breathe it all in. Give thanks.

............Hey--do you want to hear a family holiday story (I promise: no jokes with poop or moose are involved)? There are tragic elements to it, but it makes me and my brother giggle...now that the pain has subsided. The title of this story is:

It's Thanksgiving, Goddamn It!

Once upon a time, there was a girl. (Me, the girl was me. This story is about me.) After graduating college, I moved to Yuma, Arizona (there's an excellent movie with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale based on that town that was filmed almost entirely in New Mexico, which I find very strange since Yuma has perfectly good desert--what the crap, Hollywood?) At any rate--I'd been living in Yuma and because it's hard to be a Kentucky girl stuck in the desert, I was finally able to escape and make my way back to land with green hills and four seasons.

So it was my first Thanksgiving home in three or four years, and me, my mom, my brother, and my dad were all sitting around our Thanksgiving table and feast ready to have our small nuclear family celebration just as we had for decades. The table was loaded down with obscene amounts of food, all the Thanksgiving place mats out with the good china and silverware on them, and my mom had placed a small glass of grape juice (an aperitif if you will) on our plates. The idea was: say the grace, drink the juice, dig in.

So my dad starts saying the grace--I don't remember what he said. But at the end, my mom goes, "Bill, you forgot something." And my dad goes, "Huh?" (My brother and I were also going: Huh? Because he'd kind of covered all the major thankful checkpoints.)

And my mom goes, "Amy." And my dad goes, "What about Amy?" (And here, Amy--that's me--starts to go: Oh god. Oh god. Here we go.) And my mom goes, "Well, this is her first Thanksgiving back with us. In three years." And my dad goes, "So?" And here, my mom starts to get annoyed and upset which should have been my dad's Big Red Flag but my dad was fairly oblivious to Big Red Flags, of any kind.

So then my mom goes, "Well...you didn't tell God 'thank you' for bringing Amy back so she could have Thanksgiving with her family again." And my dad goes, "Well...GODDAMN IT!!! How was I supposed to know that, Goddamn it?! Goddamn it!!!" And he threw his napkin onto the table.

(Looking back, I now see my dad was embarrassed for having forgotten. And, being raised by the generation he was raised by and being the way he was in general, he was not the touchy-feely kind of dad who apologized and made amends...he was the "Goddamnit, Are You Friggin' KIDDING Me?!" kind of dad, the "How Is THIS More Important Than The Fact Obviously I'm Thankful She's Home Again Do I Really Have to Pray About It Out Loud For Christ's Sake??" kind of dad. But you know: 20/20 Hindsight.)

So my mom is very quiet. The whole table is very quiet. God is quietly planning on how best to exact revenge on my dad for saying GODDAMN IT over and over and over again. And then my mom jumps up and leaves the table to run to the bathroom from which we can all hear her very loud sobs.

My dad, my brother, and I all sat in silence at the table. After several minutes, my dad sighed, got up, and disappeared to the bathroom. Two minutes later, he comes back, sits down, and starts scooping food angrily onto his plate. "Eat," he said, pointing to the food. "Your mother is probably not coming back to the table."

But nobody can eat like this. Have you ever been in one of these situations? Nobody can eat.

Anyway, the three of us are now awkwardly sitting in silence, staring at a feast going cold on our plates, listening to sobs from the bathroom. Finally, my dad breaks the silence and goes, "Did I...At any point, did I say ANYTHING rude or inappropriate to your mother at this table?"

Lord, that was a hard a question. A damned if you do, damned if you don't hard question. My brother and I stared diligently down at our plates, as if they were the most fascinating things we'd ever encountered. After many strained seconds of silence, my dad yelled, "Answer me, goddamn it!"

I looked up at my brother. He refused to make eye contact. And so I swallowed and I took a deep breath. Somebody had to be the sacrificial turkey this Thanksgiving, and so it would be me. It was one of my bravest moments, ever. I'm not kidding.

"Actually," I started quietly, staring at my plate while fear clawed at my belly, "It wasn't what you said as much as how you said it."

"Well, goddamn it!!" my dad said. And then he got up from the table, stomped out the door, and we heard his truck start and then peal out of the drive, down the street. My brother and I were now alone at the Thanksgiving table, looking at piles of food that would--hopefully--make decent leftovers tomorrow, even though they were salted with bitterness and our mother's tears, with a side of Goddamnit gravy.

My mother's sobs continued from the bathroom, though they were softer now.

"Soooo," my brother said after awhile. "What are you thankful for this year?"

"Oh, I'm thankful I didn't say the grace this year. What are you thankful for?"

"Oh, I'm thankful that we didn't have dinner guests."

And oh, weren't those two wonderful things to be thankful for, that year! (Eventually, my mom came out of the bathroom and sat at the table again, and we did eat. And eventually, my dad did decide driving all the way up to the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania without telling anyone that's what he was doing or where he was going may not be a very smart idea, and so he came back.)

The End

Every year at Thanksgiving, I remember this story. I miss my dad, every Thanksgiving, because Thanksgiving has never been, and will never be, the same now that he's gone. But every year at Thanksgiving when I remember this story, as much as I miss my dad with my whole heart, it also reminds me of another reason we have Thanksgiving: it keeps psychiatrists and counselors and other mental health professionals in business. (No, I'm very serious: talk therapy can really help you get some of this stuff out...so that NEXT Thanksgiving you don't own the problems. DON'T OWN THE THANKSGIVING PROBLEMS. Okay?)

Now. Get some sleep, sweet friends, so tomorrow you can go to the mall. Because tomorrow is Black Friday, and Mall Shoppers aren't going to bring out ANY of your dysfunctions at all. (I'm just being sarcastic, silly goose--Mall Shoppers will bring out dysfunctions you didn't even know you had. Trust me: I was just in one on Wednesday afternoon, and I've only just now stopped eating my feelings. Thank god it was Thanksgiving, and there was a reason to eat.)

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