Thanksgiving brings bedlam to my house

The family is gathering at our house this Thanksgiving, so pray for me. We don’t have a large house, and with four children, eight grandchildren, spouses and dogs, it will be like the first Thanks­gi­ving, only with more bloodshed.


We already picked up Tommy and Thelma at the airport, and the rest will descend on us after school has let out and their houses have become so noisy that they figure it is better to open one large bedlam in our house than several small ones.

Not the Bedlam, of course. That was what they called the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, which was founded in the 13th century in London. It was a lunatic asylum, and if you are insane and hold your mouth like a Brit, “Bethlehem” comes out “Bedlam” when you say it. On second thought, our house might be the Bedlam after all.

Maybe the word I’m looking for is “omnishambles,” which this month was chosen by the Oxford University Press as its British word of the year. I had not heard it until it won, and I would think a word of the year would be something people have actually heard of.

Omnishambles is “a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations.” It was applied to Bri­tish government, the Olym­pics and various media scandals.

My other problem with omnishambles is that it carries less weight than its root, shambles. That word, again British, started off meaning a rickety table used for displaying or cutting meat. Shambles evolved into any slaughterhouse or, for that matter, any scene of bloodshed and slaughter. Sham­bles makes omnishambles look like a walk in the park.

But back to Thanksgiv­ing. JoAn already has started cracking pecans to make her chocolate pecan pies, some with sugar and some without. Even those without are sweet enough to bring the diabetics in the family to their knees, but that’s what the Pilgrims had in mind when they started this feast.

With the kids and grandkids and dogs will come some of the fixings – I hope. JoAn is a workaholic and tries to do too much, but others will help out. There will be a couple of dressing recipes, and all sorts of desserts and side dishes coming.

Tommy brought mantecados and Cen­tral American coffee. Mantecados are crumbly shortbread cookies that I had not had in nearly 40 years, and they are just as I remember them. I’m pretty sure they won’t last until Thanksgiving. They go well with the coffee, which my son calls “space coffee” for its effects on the body.

We won’t go the turducken route this year. We did it once, and although it was quite tasty, the consensus was that it didn’t live up to its billing. As far as I was concerned, it was a noble experiment, because how can you not love a turkey, stuffed with a duck, which is stuffed with a chicken, which is stuffed with rice dressing?

I’ve already had to loosen my belt just thinking of this week. Moderation, I remind myself. Fat chance, I reply.

Happy Thanksgiving.



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