BobLee’s Official Thanksgiving Family Gathering Advice

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BobLee
November22/ 2017

BobLee’s Official Thanksgiving Family Gathering Advice

I don’t think I’ve ever done this column topic before. This column topic is becoming a tradition in the media along with that old favorite – Clueless TV info babe at the airport interviewing holiday weekend travelers. I have not done that one either.

Avoiding “fireworks” at Thanksgiving has always been a touchy subject.  One that most families can relate to whether they have ever had actual MAYHEM or not.   I never have had such issues either pre-Blondie or the past 33 with Blondie years.

I am an only child so our immediate family Thanksgivings were basically Sunday dinner on Thursday with turkey et al… and in “the dining room” rather than kitchen table (aka breakfast table).

Our extended family was large, local and highly matriarchal. My grandmother had a large post-bellum home and it was the gathering place every Christmas with 20-25 aunts, uncles, cousins assembling. Attendance was not optional but I don’t recall it being contentious.

There was no “over the river and thru the woods” involved as 90% of the extended family lived with 25 miles. Because we were always seeing one another thru the year, holiday gatherings were never “summit meetings” to air heated opinions be they sports, politics, or gossip about local society goings-on.

“Back then” divorce was highly uncommon unless one was Mickey Rooney, Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor or some guy named Tommy Manneville (??). None of whom were related to me. So we weren’t having “strangers” coming/going at these gatherings.

We had “characters” among the aunts, uncles, cousins for sure. Looking back… more eccentric characters than I realized at the time. Actually probably about average for families of that size.

Family Dinner

Yes, there was “the adult table” and, at one point, TWO “childrens’ tables. A lot of the cousins were within 3-4 years of the same age so ascension to the “grown-ups table” could have been a log-jam. I don’t recall how that was resolved as we “came of age”.

The whole family were “yellow dog Democrats” so definitely no political squabbling. Any comparison to “political squabbles” then compared to the past 10-12 years… or to current day is as irrelevant as irrelevant can be.

The KABOOM flashpoint in 2017 is within 10 seconds of the moment the word “Trump” in said out loud.

For a mixed ABC / UNC family (who read BLS) the word “TGU” might ignite the fuse.

There were not even college or pro sports rivalries in our family. I have no clue who my uncles “pulled for” if anyone. Eastern NC had no pro sports teams in the region. The Redskins were woeful and the Washington Senators were woefullier. Atlanta was still smoldering from General Sherman’s visit.

“Race” was becoming more and more “an issue”. I don’t recall my extended family being particularly enlightened on that subject. My grandmother’s maid – Ophelia – was “colored” and a family staple for 20+ years. Ophelia “knew her place”.

If you read the book or saw the movie – The Help – that was “how it was”…. In the semi-rural small-town South in the mid 20th century.

To put that in time perspective… our town had many more “colored people” than it did colored TVs. Over a half century later, my hometown now has an all-black city government – mayor and city council. THAT transition is a fascinating study in societal evolution which I will explore in depth in an upcoming column.

Moving right along… in the past 34 years – The Blondie Era – saw time and logistics become an issue. My family was Eastern NC and hers was Southeast Missouri and we did not live in either region for the first 10-12 years. Ergo, there WAS an “over the river / thru the woods” aspect for the first 6-8 years. In that case you chose to “go back” for either Thanksgiving or Christmas… not both.

Blondie’s brothers also left Cape Girardeau for various “big cities” and began their families and their traditions. I only recall 3-4 times we all gathered on Cammelia Drive… and none of those resulted in altercations of any kind.

The predominate political persuasion did a 180 from my youth’s with only one dissenter among the 15+ and she recognized she was outnumbered and demurred.

It was a total “Cardinals Family” but with on-going concerns about the intelligence of whoever the manager was at any given time.

Once “we” – Blondie, Kid and I – began our own holiday traditions, we went very “traditional” again with nary a harsh table chatter much less verbal sparring.

The annual “issue” was Blondie freaking out over the myriad details of preparing Thanksgiving dinner. We have now solved that by buying the basics pre-cooked from Honey-Baked Ham and/or Whole Foods. A solution I strongly recommend.

Those traditional traditions continue these days. Blondie’s one brother – Hunter – who lives in Raleigh, joins us each season. Hunter is rougher on the current Cardinals’ manager than I am but not demonstrably so.

Now, of course, we share “Kid” with Danny’s family in Indianapolis. That has gone very smoothly so far… but the “any week now” arrival of “the twins” – Ruthie and Scout – could affect that in years to come. I don’t anticipate “issues” but this grandparents thing is uncharted waters for us.

I’ve never had a Holiday Armageddon to deal with. I can only imagine how upsetting it can be… especially “these days”.

If I had to “deal with” an opinionated jackass in such a situation I’m not sure how I would handle it. I would certainly never provoke a political discussion. Basically, I don’t feel compelled to voice my opinions in such a setting. Here on this website ABSOLUTELY … but never in a social setting. And I certainly don’t care to endure dissentFamily Fighting POVs.

I assume attendees in such combustible settings are all aware who the likely instigators could be. Unless there are “first-timers” in attendance … your sister’s 3rd future ex-husband, etc.

… or, of course, the “gone away to college kid” who returns all full of his/her self and determined to piss in mamma / grandmama’s holiday punch bowl.

I would hope there would be at least one  respected individual among the attendees to nip it in the bud.  OK, that’s ENOUGH!

Anyone who would bring up … Charlie Rose running around nekkid? among a group of people eating should be taken out back immediately… and dealt with.

Sure, I know individuals who might feel compelled to share their provocative opinions in inappropriate settings.   I have never had the unpleasant occasion to dine with those individuals at a family holiday.  Hopefully I never will.

The #1 problem I see in Holiday Family Feuds is the simple fact that in Battleground America 2017… EVERYTHING is political.

What conversational topic these days is NOT one careless inflection or phrase from going NUCLEAR?

The only advice I can offer those of you who dread these family gatherings is to suggest to the host that she replace the good silver with plastic sporks.

That said… prison inmates can turn a toothbrush into a “shiv” dagger. If your sister’s latest “future ex-husband” just completed a stretch at a Graybar Hilton, even the sporks may not solve your problem…

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JdV
JdV
2 years ago

Am late to the party from here in Lil’ Washington. Our annual gathering (reminiscent of your stock photo) is now held at my house (inheriting the mantel from my dear Grammy, and mother). It’s a lot to put this all together, but we love it. This was our “small year,” with the biannual rotation to out of town in-laws accounting for the fewer numbers. We’re an ecumenical lot with Duke, WFU and UNC diehards among us. Politically, we’re pretty much “yellow dog Dems.” However, politics were not discussed this year — too upsetting. There was a lot of distress over… Read more »

58 Wolf Kennel
58 Wolf Kennel
2 years ago

Good column and good comments. Thanksgiving is such a good and wholesome day. Our family sat around three tables at my son Phil’s house yesterday. There were 16 of us with the best turkey and mince pie to be found anywhere. Only one missing was oldest grandson Nathan who graduated from Pfeiffer this year on a 4-year golf scholarship who is working in Florida now trying to catch on with the Canadian Golf Tour. Also enjoyed Blondie’s Rockwell article as well as CNR’s responses. I’m bringing a copy of my “Nine Lives” book for him as well. You claim we… Read more »

RAZ
RAZ
2 years ago

Nailed him after dinner…..had him look up Clinton and Loletta Express , he is still in shock, had never heard of it. Don’t think it rode well with his girlfriend

RAZ
RAZ
2 years ago

BL……u know I had to………meal starts and I just had to say ……”there goes CR running.”……..and with in 2 seconds my son throws out ” but we have a POTUS that does that and no one cares”………….Every fiber in my body wanted to debate NOW.. but I let it ride. Thank u Lord !…… and actually it was fun

ultraviolet
ultraviolet
2 years ago
Reply to  RAZ

Raz, you wouldn’t happen to know someone close to you that worked at the Kinston Country Club many years would you?

BobH
BobH
2 years ago

This one is a keeper, Bob!

As I’m sure you’ve never heard said, “Ya done good!”

Is that first picture of family around the table your family? Is Kid at the kid’s table? Is that you and Blondie at the lower right? If so, you definitely married better than she did!!!

Happy Thanksgiving! Our thoughts and prayers for Kid, Danny, Ruthie and Scout continue!

Jon Sasser
Jon Sasser
2 years ago

Well, BL, this Thanksgiving is going to be different — not that the past ones were boring. When Lil Dude was a month old, we toted him down Hillsborough Street to the Velvet Cloak in his carrier, and plopped him on the table as a centerpiece. A few years later, on our way to a huge gathering at the in-laws’ Oklahoma dairy farm, we got snowed in at O’Hare. No flights out till Thursday night, so we ate Thanksgiving lunch at the Field Museum, in the shadow of his (very) old friend, Sue. We enjoyed a high school Thanksgiving meal… Read more »

CNR
CNR
2 years ago

Giving thanks. As each of my children and grandchildren from sea to shining sea show up, each asks, “Are Mr. and Mrs. Lee going to be here? If not, when is your friend coming again?” Your week here six years at Thanksgiving made quite an impression on them. Of course, Rob and Meghan have yet to meet you. I am looking forward to that since they are, as you know, Cal and Stanford. They are missing The Big Game to introduce our newest family member to Granny and BooBoo. As you know, they have torn up their 49er tickets on… Read more »

CNR
CNR
2 years ago
Reply to  BobLee

The Putterer, my angel on my shoulder, my forever date and best friend for eternity, is in ecstasy as her brood of admirers come through the door. Her chicks are at her feet and she is beaming. They all heard the news about the latest regarding the twin bundles of joy and their due date. Immediately, Aidan and Molly immediately led a prayer for all of you. Judy, the puttered, is so happy for you. She sends word that you will never have the joy and happiness that is ahead of you as you share your life with miracles of… Read more »

TarHeel69
TarHeel69
2 years ago

Tell BK “hello” from his Kennel’s Beach buddy. Hope you guys have a good visit. Happy Thanksgiving, Bob. You give fun to your many readers.

DM Carpenter
DM Carpenter
2 years ago

BobLee:

For all that is most certainly akilter, we have much for which we can, should, and are thankful. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your’n.

NCSU68Grad
NCSU68Grad
2 years ago

Do you recall, remember at all, that wonderful, wonderful (fill in blank) year? Yesterday was number 52 in “DW Era”. We reminisced at Winston’s about how elopement created a pool to when the baby would be born and how long it would last. There weren’t no bun in the oven and the folks that picked a few years got the prize. Technically, I tried to claim it….as well as get a “settlement” from my late FIL for the wedding he never had to fund. He said I got a lot of good advice….and since this self taught investor did quite… Read more »

Bob Kennel
Bob Kennel
2 years ago

PS: I’ll bring a leftover piece of Ophelia’s pecan pie for you ????

Bob Kennel
Bob Kennel
2 years ago

Happy Thanksgiving, BL. Your earliest days and your Blondie days are true Americana. And you are right, twin grandchildren will change your life for the better all the way around.
Here’s a proposal. Be my guest Saturday afternoon , and let’s give TGU an appropriate funeral. Sister Jennie will be present, along with Porgie, as well as my NC State legacy freshman granddaughter, and a copy of my last-ever book “My Nine Lives – But Was There Any Wisdom?”
Meet at University Club parking lot at 2:30pm.
Happy Thanksgiving to all your blogsters !!

RAZ
RAZ
2 years ago

I want a new ‘tradition’……..leave the cell phone in a wicker basket at the door. You haven’t seen each other in a year so “talk to one another” But my wife says noooo …… oh well

Doug
Doug
2 years ago

Our family gatherings were mirror images of yours – politically too- and continue today even though we are a bit more spread out than 25 miles. That and a brand new 3 week old grand baby. The parents decided to have us gather at their house with a small group of immediate family only. As first time parents, one sneeze from anyone and it’s like the Mayo Clinic is on speed dial to see if the baby needs a spinal tap and a MRI. Other than that it’ll hopefully be a fine day. Happy Thanksgiving.

Doug
Doug
2 years ago
Reply to  BobLee

Funny you mention it. We did have one crazy uncle among the yellow dog family of Democrats. Although I was 8-10 years from voting age, daddy and uncles in a good natured way kid him for a being a “damn Republican.” NO mean confrontations ever. After Jimmy Carter though the entire family political script flipped dramatically.

unctarheel1984
unctarheel1984
2 years ago

Happy Thanksgiving

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