Turkey Day with Heavy D
We started a tradition a few years back in which we have Thanksgiving dinner with our dear friends Wayne and John (aka, ‘The Boys’, or as Dan likes to say, John Wayne) at their home, and then we do Christmas dinner at Chez Gainey. Wayne and John have pretty much adopted my mom and call her, visit her, and do really nice things for her all the time. That’s how The Boys roll- they are two of the most kind-hearted men I’ve ever met, and they help people and rescue stray animals on a regular basis. Geez, these guys are probably on a list for saint-hood somewhere.
Now The Boys, aside from being amazing cooks, are a walking comedy team, and their favorite target for holiday ribbing is Mom. Wayne calls Mom ‘Heavy D’ (that’s her ‘hood name). They ask her how the first Thanksgiving was (the real first Thanksgiving), how was it riding over on the Mayflower, what was it like having Benjamin Franklin for a boyfriend, how she likes her wooden dentures, and what it was like to go to school with Abe Lincoln.
They also have a running joke involving roadkill- more specifically possum road killI- and are always telling her that the dishes they make for her contain possum..they even gave her a stuffed possum that she proudly displays in her living room. Today The Boys made her tell the story about how she made a pie for someone and thought she’d baked one of her hair combs in it (she’d just misplaced the comb, thankfully). In short, they mess with her big time. If The Boys don’t tease you, they don’t like you.
If any other people teased with Dorothy Williams that way, she would lay them flat out. However, Mom has a soft spot for these men who have shown such kindness to her, and she values their friendship. John especially has become one of Mom’s closest friends and confidants. It was hard for her to leave her friends of forty and more years when she made the move to Birmingham. So, mom plays along, pretends to gag when they talk about possum at the dinner table, and kids them right back when they tease her about being older (By the way, you are never allowed to call Dorothy ‘old’- you must use the term ‘older’. Don’t want you getting a smack down Heavy D style.)
This new tradition has become special to all of us. While my husband, Dan, comes from a close-knit family that still gathers together at the holidays (The Cleavers, anyone?), my experience was quite different. Since I came along late (Mom was 41…they thought I was a tumor), my parents had divorced, and my siblings were far-flung and living their own lives, the occasions where we all gathered together for the holidays were few and far between. I still remember wonderful holidays as a child, but for various reasons, my relationship with my family, other than my sister, is not a close one. The Boys have had similar experiences. And so, we have created a new family and new traditions that give us a sense of connection.
As I sat around the festive table today, filled with lively conversation and laughter, I took a good look at my mom. Her face still bears a huge bruise from her recent fall, and she has a very difficult time navigating the five stairs to get into The Boys’ house today. She is fragile, and I don’t know how many of these holiday dinners we have left with her. I am grateful for this holiday spent with her and our dear friends, teasing, laughing. Every moment is precious.
I will look forward to our Christmas gathering at Chez Gainey. I am sure that there will be more laughter, more teasing…and I am quite certain that possum will be on the menu, just for Mom.