This Thanksgiving, I will be cooking for my dear partner’s family. There will be 10 of us. They all love the smell of turkey, but only two of us non-vegetarians actually eat it. I have ordered a two-pound turkey, organic of course, and plan to jam eight pounds of bread into it. They will sneak tastes of my world famous turkey stuffing, but basically all they really care about are my mashed potatoes. Hint: horseradish.
About two hours before dinner is ready, someone will slip unbidden into the kitchen and start making chana masala or palak paneer. I won’t stop them. American Thanksgiving dinner needs all the help it can get, especially if that dinner is made by an Irish-American woman raised by a mother who thought garlic came in salt form.
And I am never offended when the jars of Patak’s garlic relish or mango pickle discreetly appear on the table. I am thankful for the tastes I have grown accustomed to with my Indian in-laws. I am grateful they feel comfortable taking the flavor enhancement initiative and that we have navigated earlier awkward cultural differences.
Of course, this year the award for Most Awkward Thanksgiving Family Dinner goes to the Bush Family. Awkward. Though it’s technically not in the awkward dinner category, for me nothing can ever replace that Thanksgiving moment of Sarah Palin yammering on camera about something — World War Three whatnot — while behind her an old coot fed a turkey into a wood-chipper.
The death star of awkwardness hangs heavy over the House of the Bush Dynasty this November. I don’t know what that sentence means either, but I was aiming for something that really conveyed a meta-narrative of extreme awkwardness with a touch of Game of Thrones.
Jon Meacham’s biography, Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush, is the turkey-flavored elephant in the dining room. And maybe the Bushes are still WASP enough to be able to avoid the whole topic at the family gathering, but I sure wish some helpful waiter would leave his iPhone in ‘record’ mode on the Stickley sideboard.
Until that audio is released, I picture a Norman Rockwell scene with thought bubbles. Bush heads bent over a turkey more bronzed than John Boehner. Bush 41: “Yes, I called Cheney an Iron Ass.” Bush 43: “Nyah, nyah, Dad likes me better than you.” Poor Jeb: “Really? Now? The book now. Dad?” Barbara: (Muffled) “And who told you not to run?”
In interviews with Bush 41 for the book, Meacham writes that both Barbara and George claim they never said or even implied that Jeb would have made a better president than George. The whole family is proudly non-introspective. What a few sessions of family therapy might have done for this country. That the appalling ineptitude of poor Jeb in any way rehabilitates his brother George is galling.
I would trace the recent terrorist events in Paris back to Iron Ass Cheney, Arrogant Rumsfeld and George Bush’s folly in Iraq for you, but I will save it for my brief before the International War Crimes Tribunal that meets nearly every day in my head. Now I must begin the dinner prep. I am off to de-can and slice the cranberry sauce.
Kate Clinton is a longtime humorist and regular Blade contributor.