As we gather round the kitchen island sipping frozen whiskey sours, we look through the family calendar sent out by Uncle Stan (on my husband’s side). The calendar features photos of family members from across the country in the months of their birth. As more grandchildren appear as calendar markers, the elder Loves attempt to keep track of who belongs to whom. Within the cover is, as my mother-in-law said tonight, the “org chart,” i.e. genealogy, listing the generations back to 1823.
Accompanying the calendar this year was a video of Thanksgiving 1993. My in-laws appear in the video, looking a tad younger, to which my nine-year-old son exclaims “Why is Grampa wearing hair?” This comment is received with mixed reviews. He ignores the fact that his father also had hair at the time. As the video continues, my husband and his parents comment on voices and faces they haven’t known since that day. The recordings culminate in the futile effort to shove a twenty-foot stuffed purple snake in a small suitcase, with snake and human limbs entangled.
At Thanksgiving dinner this year, I mentioned to my newest sister-in-law that once you hear the stories enough times, you start to feel like you lived them. Fifteen years I’ve listened and laughed at the Love family misadventures. I have the privileged of teasing Bob about sinking a pontoon boat, though that happened long before I joined the clan. I have heard the story of the purple snake (may it rest in peace in stuffed animal heaven) many times.
We finish off the reminiscent moment listening to our mixed disc of silly Christmas tunes, including The Elfs’ Lament by the Bare Naked Ladies and Please, Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas by John Denver. If you haven’t heard either of these, you need to click on the titles and head to YouTube.