The Thanksgiving Season is upon us and even if you don’t celebrate the Great Turkey Day in a traditional sense, you’ll have a bit more time off than normal.
If you’re like me, you’ve already packed the migraine medicine, the big thick book you won’t read, and six cans of green beans in the car, the essentials for a trip home. I’m a traveling Thanksgiving guest. This means instead of sleeping late, scratching myself in the privacy of my own home, and watching sappy movies on television, I go to the homes of others.
Actually, the three dogs and I make a pilgrimage to my mother’s house, also known as the fourth ring of hell, several times a year. One of my dogs is a half-bald Pomeranian who at the age of sixteen has decided that walking all the way to my mother’s rug is too much trouble and she’ll just pee where she’s lying. You ever had a dog with a wooly coat? That pee smell does not come out. So now I put pull-ups on her with a little hole cut out for her tail stick through.
Because her back is nearly bald, I top this off with a red t-shirt that says “Suck My Milkbone” which adds some holiday cheer. No one seems to appreciate my effort at cheer and sanitation. All I get is eye-rolls and a few oh-my-God’s.
The other two dogs are fairly normal, well, mostly normal. My male dog has glaucoma and is going blind but he also lives in a state of excited bliss at the thought of meeting new people. The forty-eight people stuffed into my mother’s house are a doggie dream come true for him. Between sneezing, licking, and shedding, he manages to touch every one of them in some special way whether they want to or not.
My other dog is a fat, oversized Papillion who is completely deaf. Even in her peaceful silence, she finds the chaos of family gatherings to be overwhelming. You’ll normally find her curled up, alone, on one of the guest beds with a bag of doggie treats she’s stolen. Even if she is gone, you’ll know it’s her because all of the treats are lined up across the bed like railroad tracks. She’s nothing if not neat.
Did I mention she has food allergies? Well if she does eat the wrong treats, she’ll lick herself bald for the next three days because of all the goodies she steals.
And now you’re wondering why I’m telling you all of this? You’re a writer; you could care less about my balding, diaper wearing dog. What I’m trying to get through to you is that this Thanksgiving is an opportunity to look at your family, not as the loving and annoying cretins that they are but rather as raw material for your work.
This holiday, take one person, one event, and write about it. You can exaggerate it for humor, tell it with the bald truth, or mix the two up.
To me, my dogs are just part of my life. I don’t think about how odd they seem to other people. I don’t think it’s odd that I have a case of doggie meds that I pack with me everywhere. It also never occurs to me that other people don’t pack green beans in the car for Thanksgiving. I’ve lived through too many green bean casserole emergencies, I’m prepared. This is just normal to me. But to other people, my ordinary is interesting, it’s funny, it’s sad.
This Thanksgiving, write about one event, one thing, one person as if it were new to you. Write about it as a stranger might see it. Look at your life with brand new glasses and see yourself from a new perspective. See yourself and your family as they big turkeys they are. After all, everyone is a turkey some of the time.
And if the writing sucks, tell people the turkey did it. It’s practically the truth.