Divine providence mandates that every year my mother’s birthday falls the same week as Thanksgiving, so that is where I begin this heartwarming tale.
I think this 400 mg of Luvox, 100 mg over the maximum dose for elephants, is helping me in my excesses. I think. I know it can’t be I’m more sensible now, shit no. Common sense and I have never been bedfellows, so I must believe this gigantic dose is keeping me from my usual holiday rituals of spending every damn spare penny on my mother. I love buying gifts: Birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, Kwanza gifts, Rosh Hashonah gifts – I’m down for it. But by miracle or pharmaceutical, this year I decided I’d wait until the day before my mother’s birthday to buy for my mom in the idea of seeing what my budget will allow. Way too sensible for me. Definitely the drugs or Jesus is about to gallop through on his white steed, take your pick. I’m more inclined to believe the former because I know me and my compulsive generosity, a good thing and a bad thing. Anyhow, my newfound austerity might have worked for our good if we didn’t need a damn car battery! Yes, our car battery decided to give up the ghost. We always end up at the pawn shop twice each month, three times if you count bailing my stuff out at the beginning of the month. Part of the money I got on a loan from my netbook went to pay for the car battery, around 90 bucks, plus we now contend with a $250.00 car payment since we had to get rid of the transmission failing ghetto van in September, around the time of the great kidney debacle. Anyway, poor mouthing over for a second or two, all I could afford my mom this year for her birthday was a $5.98 chocolate fudge cake from Wal-Mart.
“Could you put a rose on it, please?” I ask.
My mother is with me and she picks yellow. Later she says, “I wasn’t really thinking what color would be prettiest on the cake, just that I like yellow flowers.” Well, whatever works, and it looked pretty nice. Not Prince William/ Kate Middleton cake fit for royal weddings nice, but nice all the same.
Would you like something written on it?” asks the young woman running the bakery.
Eh, what the hell. ” Um, ‘Happy Birthday, Mom,’ please.”
When we get home, we hunt down leftover candles from the ghosts of birthdays past. ” One will be fine,” says Mom.
Oh helllll no. “No, one of each color,” I, Queen of Evening and Fairness Rituals, have spoken. Yes, it seems unfair to use only one, when there are other colors too. But sparing the feelings of birthday candles is normal. Extra added bonus: Mom didn’t even burn herself when lighting the candles on the microscopic cake. I’m sure her wish will come true now!
“Is that edible?” asks Mom, picking up a little square that has “fudge” written on it, or is it just advertising that the cake is made of something akin to fudge? I take the paper-thin square from mom and pop it into my mouth. Uh oh, it is a little piece of fudge and I feel a tiny pang of guilt go down with the tiny piece of chocolate, Oh well, she gets the piece of cake with the rose on it.
And it’s a fine cake, extremely tasty, the best non-ice cream cake I’ve about ever had and officially I lost “The World’s Worst Daughter” award….until I woke up in the middle of the night with a craving and finished the cake for her. I’m the sort of person who will give the last of anything to my mom without batting an eye….BUT. But if it’s the middle of the night and I’m alone, buh-bye chocolate, hello gluttony.
Now for Thanksgiving. The day before, the kind woman directly across from us in the next building asks my mother if she likes sweet potato pie, and Mom, without thinking, told her the truth.
“Oh,” replied the woman. As Mama continues her gardening, it suddenly strikes her that the woman wanted to make her a sweet potato pie. Uh oh, what now? So off she goes to the woman’s apartment and knocks on the sliding glass door. “Did you say sweet potato pie or sweet potato vines? I was thinking you said sweet potato vines and it occurred to me you might have said sweet potato pie.” Elegant save, Mom. Wonder if the woman believed her?
“I thought you might have misunderstood me,” said the woman. Faux pas averted, though I was mortified by my mom’s mishap even more than she was. We came home from my therapist and it was time to collect the pie. I went over too. The therapist wants me to try to be more sociable, so this is a great opportunity to carpe diem or whatever.
I’m certain the woman thought, There’s that weird girl, but we made a quick and polite acquaintance, Mama only managing to embarrass me once. I recently noticed the woman and her husband’s friendship with a squirrel, which filled me with apprehension for both the squirrel and Phillippe, my cat. I wasn’t concerned for my other two cats, Oscar and Dondee are both a bit too small to catch more than a lizard or tiny bird if they’re lucky, but Phil Jr. is an ardent squirrel eater, alas. I can’t blame him, but murdering beasties is his instinct, not mine. For instance, several days ago, Babee Dondee got out into the hall, went into the laundry room, and knocked over a water bug onto it’s back. Flailing and miserable, it couldn’t right itself and Dondee left it alone. No one to see me around, I gently tap it with my shoe until it’s turned over again. I hate those things but it wasn’t in my apartment and it can’t help it’s a water bug, can it? Blame Kafka or karma, but really, it’s one of my OCD quirks and I have no desire to lose that one.
My mother mentions the squirrel, whom the couple named Charlie, and I’ll be damned if she didn’t start talking about Phillippe’s love of squirrels and eventually ended the conversation with an “If Phillippe ever does get him please don’t kill our cat!” Basically, she said since Charlie was an older squirrel she doubted Phil could get him and how he refuses to be a house cat (Mom didn’t mention he vengefully pisses in her bed should he not be at liberty to come and go as he pleases 24/7), giving her request at the end to not murder the kitty.
Embarrass me! But it was promised the woman wouldn’t, because she’s afraid of cats. A cat chased her when she was a child and somehow her sister fell down the stairs we later find out. She isn’t the first person I’ve known scared of cats either. Ain’t phobias grand?
So, we have some sweet potato pie and it isn’t so bad at all. To me, however, sweet potato pie will remain pumpkin pie’s sinewy bastard cousin…but it is extremely appreciated all the same.
The next day is Thanksgiving, and it is decided we will have a picnic at the arboretum since we can’t go to The Golden Corral for Thanksgiving, which is a buffet.With what money we have left from having to get a damn car battery for the damn car, we get Swanson’s Hungry Man Turkey and Dressing dinners. Lucky they were buy one, get one or we’d have to split one. We also got some cranberry sauce and a salad which was basically lettuce, cheese, and salad dressing, hee.
We nuke ’em and pack ’em back into their paper boxes to keep ’em warm and over the river and through the woods to the arboretum we go (incidentally my grandparents are buried in a cemetery in walking distance behind the arboretum). The weather was cloudy with a couple drops of rain here and there, but warm and we found a small picnic table. As we ate two couples passed by our scene of Rockwellesque domestic tranquillity. I’m sure it warmed their hearts and I’m always glad to to be a help to humankind. Soon we were reenacting the First Thanksgiving too and our Indian came to the table to share our repast. Our Indian was a a little orange and white cat whose tag said “Monkey.” we were glad he came to visit, just like being home. He hopped onto the bench next to me and I petted him. I had done ate all my turkey, so my mom gave him a bit, to which he turned up his feline nose. Afterward, we walked the arboretum and their lovely rose garden, which is always blooming no matter what time of year, and past the Japanese-themed garden, whose miniature tea house a local mystery writer used as the murder scene in one of her novels (it was a good book too).
Then off home we returned, me driving, and I didn’t even run over anyone, go figure.
This is my favorite song to begin the holidays: