When my children were small, we spent every other Christmas on the road to visit my in-laws in Florida. Other years? We were on the road to The Trailer Park by noon to celebrate with my family. We agreed that as long as we had parents to visit, we would do this.
Thanksgiving was different. His parents were too far away for a visit. In my clan, we had time-shifted the meal to the Saturday after Thanksgiving due to issues with divorces, and the resultant logistical challenges. Never mind that Mom had stopped making a meal* at home in the 1970’s, preferring to go out to eat at a local
trough buffet restaurant.
When i asked my husband how he’d like to spend our ‘free’ holiday? He said “At home. Watching football and drinking beer.” When i asked my children how they’d like to spend our ‘free’ holiday? They said “Making pizza and just hanging out…”
That’s exactly what we did. We’d invite ‘stray’ friends over – those who didn’t have family in town. i’d whip up some pizza dough, buy turkey pepperoni as the only nod to tradition, and we started having a great holiday at home. Our way.
With the kids grown, and my move to the new place in 2008, i re-started the tradition. Among my friends there was a need for a holiday alternative, so “Thursday” became a thing – a non-traditional meal. i stayed with the pizza theme, expanded the bar, and opened the doors.
The invite states “Those unable to be with family, those actively avoiding family, those without family, and those who have spent a day with their family and need respite care… Doors open at 6:00 pm, and friends are welcome to drop by until around midnight.”
Thirty or so came and went this year, bringing a variety of goodies to share. The pool table was used and abused, with the theater room collecting the footballers. Hot mulled wine, chilled dry cider punch, and a partially successful attempt at bacon-infused bourbon grounded the bar. Gingerbread trifle, peanut butter pie, and gooey salted caramel chocolate bars appeared on my kitchen counter. Guests learned to toss pizza dough, and assembled personal pizzas from a spread of toppings. We ate, laughed, and yakked through the night…
Mr. Pickles, my senior dog, has had recent issues with bladder control. Studley was aware of this, and let him out several times to make sure he didn’t paint the carpet.
Around 10 pm, Mr. P took to intermittent barking. This is usually due to random signals from the dog planet, but that night it was somehow more directed and urgent. He’d stand next to someone and bark. Not begging. Not needing to go outside. Not wanting attention.
So we kept taking him outside to make sure it wasn’t urinarily urgent. i patted him and said “Pickles, shutthefuckup!” more than once. He continued the intermittent barking or the next several hours. As the last guests were preparing to leave around 1:30 am, he stayed nearby, and would occasionally launch a solid bark.
As i walked the last couple out, i took him for one last mercy break. Back inside, i unhooked the leash, and he immediately trotted off to the bedroom. i went into the kitchen to do the final sweep before bed. Following my old pup shortly afterwards, i found him sprawled across the passenger side of my bed, snoring loudly.
The next day, Studley and i were doing the “Post-Party Analysis”. i finally realized why Mr. Pickles had been barking.
daisyfae: “i think i figured it out! He wanted people to leave so he could go to bed! He was trying to chase them away because it was past his bedtime!”
Studley: You think?
daisyfae: Yes! This was the old dog equivalent of “Hey, you kids! Get offa my lawn!”
* And we were thankful. She couldn’t cook for shit…