So there I am, supervising the Impossible Son as he cuts butter into flour and salt to make pie crusts when the dulcet tones of Toploader crooning, "Dancing in the Moonlight" alerts me to the fact that someone is calling me. I look at the Caller ID, see my mother's name, and immediately think, "Uh-oh, the Flaky Sister is calling."
Yeah, I know, that's not a normal conclusion to jump to, but see when my mom calls me, she calls me from her landline hone to my landline phone, because that's just the number she's used to, and knows she'll get me eventually.
The Flaky Sister, however, when she calls me, she wants me to answer, dammit! And she knows I always have the mobile on me, so... she calls me from the landline phone she shares with Mom to my mobile. Because she knows I'll always answer (unless I'm at the doctor or in a movie theater).
So, I answer cautiously because lately, when the Flaky Sister calls, it's because something is wrong.
I say, "Hello."
"You and the Blonde Sister are coming here the day before
Christmas, and you're staying the day after
Christmas, because I. Am not. Doing this. Again. Ever."
Apparently, Mom was criticizing her cooking.
*pause to die laughing*
As some of you will remember from past Thanksgiving debacles
, the Flaky Sister isn't exactly... the best of cooks. Ouch, I think I just strained a muscle saying that.
she can cook, but... gods, there just is not enough antacid on the planet, I swear!
Mom wants to be sure the meal is edible so... she's... trying to head Flaky off at the pass, so to speak, but... well, Mom and Flaky get along about as well as oil and water, you know? So, I said mildly, "Mom's micro-managing your cooking?"
"Gaaaaah!" the Flaky Sister said, then she asked in stern tones, "Do you know how to salt and pepper a turkey?" and I had a moment of utter panic, thinking OMG, is she dumping Thanksgiving in MY lap at the last minute, WTF???
Instead, I said mildly, "Yes, I do. Who do you think helped Mom with the turkey after you and Blondie got married?"
The Flaky Sister said, "Yeah, well... so do I! But does Mother think I can salt and pepper a turkey?"
I refrained from saying, "Well, she knows you can salt and pepper a turkey, it's probably the amount
of salt, plus the stick of butter you're trying to add that has her concerned..." because, well, I don't know she was trying to add a stick of butter...
Instead, I said, "She probably misses being able to do the turkey herself."
Not the most diplomatic thing I could have said, but... there you are. I won't go into the rest of the conversation, which was short, but... I ended up promising that we would arrive earlier than usual, to help out. And you should be very proud of me, I didn't do anything more than wince when she told me she was making stringbeans with parsley, thyme, oregano, bacon, and oh, I hope, I so hope I misunderstood her, but... possibly basil or was it something that makes me think of lemons... oh, I dunno, but... it was not something that is normally added to stringbeans, and knowing the ingrained habits of my family... no one is going to want to eat it.
I called the Blonde Sister after I'd gotten the pie in the oven, just to find out what the HELL was going on. After asking if she had received a grumpy call from a very cranky sister, I said, "Remind me again, why
did we decide the Flaky Sister would be handling Thanksgiving and
"Because she has a bigger house?" The Blonde Sister said cautiously. Then she laughed and said, "Guess I'd better take Christmas after all, huh?"
"Please! I mean, seriously, at least one
of our holiday meals should be edible!"
She died laughing and said, "The Brotherly One said the EXACT SAME THING!!!"
I knew there was a reason I liked him so much!!
We chatted a while longer, laughing and venting a bit and shaking our heads over our sister. I didn't know until tonight that the Blonde Sister had no idea that the Flaky Sister thinks of herself as the "Good Daughter."
"What, is she trying to say that you and I are the BAD ones here?" the Blonde Sister asked with an amused snort.
"Well, I'm the Black Sheep, I don't know what the heck you're supposed to be," I replied.
"You're not a black sheep," she said, laughing, "We're both
"Own it, Sister!" was about the only thing I could say at that point.
Funny thing is, I only just realized lately how little
my sisters have really talked with our mom. Well... let me rephrase that. How little my sisters have listened
to our mom. Both of my sisters have complained over and over about how Mom refuses to open the curtains in the living room. Or raise the blinds over the kitchen sink. I pointed out that both sets of windows are on the side of the house, facing into the side yard which looks like an alley. And Mom has issues with that.
The Blonde Sister had no idea what I was talking about, so I had to explain yet again about when Mom and her family lived in downtown Houston next to an Italian restaurant called "Delmonico's." And that there was no restroom in the restaurant (it was 1930's Houston, what can I say?), so male patrons would go into the alley between Delmonico's and the house Mom was living in to relieve themselves, and because they didn't want to piss against the wall of the restaurant, they'd face the house.
They had no air conditioning, so the windows in Mom's family's house were always open, night and day, and so when Mom would go into her bedroom, it wasn't unusual to see two or three men's heads right at the window sill, peering in while they relieved themselves. And sometimes, they'd try to talk to Mom and her brothers, and it always, always freaked her out (can't blame her at all, either).
The Blonde Sister had no idea. "Mom wasn't like that about our
house!" she said in surprise.
"Yes, she was," I said calmly. "That's why Daddy planted rose bushes by all the side windows of the house. It was the only way he could get her to open those windows. The rose bushes made her feel safe."
"How do you know all this?" the Blonde Sister demanded.
her!" I said, exasperated. "Good grief, Blondie, Mom has all these great
stories, and you'll never hear them if you don't ask
her about them. Try asking her what Houston was like when she was a little girl. Or ask her about how Aunt Dee Dee handled ice deliveries. Ask how Aunt Dee Dee kept the mockingbirds and blue jays from picking the paper caps off the milk bottles when they were delivered in the mornings! Or about how her brothers embarrassed her by putting boobs on the snowman she built."
Sometimes, my sisters annoy the heck out of me. Whenever Mom gets onto one of her fussing jags, all you have to do to distract her and get her onto another groove is ask about her childhood, or about the war years, or the summers she spent on the family farm in Louisiana, or how she managed to date our Marine dad despite three extremely over-protective Navy brothers who had no love for Jar-heads.
Well, the cookies are baked, the pies are done, the tarts turned out fine... and I am ready for bed.
And I promise not to kill the Flaky Sister. I don't look very good in orange, anyway.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all!