Friday, November 23, 2007

turkeys and penguins

“So you’re not having turkey and salsa with the Ybarras?” AK said, a little hurt, when we realized last year that we hadn’t made any plans to spend the holidays together. We both grew up in Southern California and our families still live here, so usually not a lot of planning is necessary. You wake up on the morning of a holiday and drive to your parents’ house.

But this year, like mature adults, we decided to spend the holidays together and to discuss how we’d do it. It was a five-minute conversation between drinks at the Of Montreal show at the Avalon a couple of weeks ago, so maybe “like mature adults” isn’t the right phrase, but it all worked out nicely: Thanksgiving with her family, Christmas Eve with mine, splitting up for Christmas morning because neither of us could stand the thought of breaking our parents’ hearts. We might be mature adults, but we’re not cruel.

So yesterday AK and I drove to Orange County where I skipped the turkey but ate lots of salsa, mashed potatoes, biscuits, rice, fruit salad and pie (only one of these things is not a carbohydrate, and that thing is a condiment. Why do people think Thanksgiving is a hard holiday for vegetarians? It’s the best holiday).

Then AK and her sister and brother-in-law and I collapsed on the couch in a sea of Target and Best Buy ads and watched Ratatouille and March of the Penguins. Eventually we realized it was getting late and the lethal blizzards were taking their toll.

“Quick, we need to leave before anymore baby penguins die,” I told AK.

We hit the 5 in a cozy, tryptophan/pumpkin pie daze. It was exactly the holiday I’d wanted. I’d been anxious about the various housing decisions awaiting us, a kind of anxiety that merges way too perfectly with my OCD, where no matter how useless thinking about something (in this case, a two-bedroom on the Highland Park/Eagle Rock border) is, my brain treats it the way a pit bull would treat the ankle of a burglar. Not letting go, chewing it to a pulp.

But for a while I could enjoy the easy relaxedness of AK’s family, people who are far more concerned about your thoughts on cranberry-7UP punch than your intentions on their daughter. And I could console myself that I didn’t have to walk 70 miles for a mouthful of plankton. I have a lot to be thankful for.


Ms. Q said...

RE: Walk 70 miles for a mouthful of plankton...I am forced by my conscience to acknowledge that if the survival of my species depended on walking 70 miles over ice and snow for plankton and/or raw fish, my species would be extinct.

Cheryl said...

AK and I decided that if that were true for cats, they would be extinct too. They'd walk five feet, then take a nap. Maybe that's why I like them so much--we understand each other.

Don Cummings said...

To be so relaxed...lovely (even if OCD lurks at the edges)--

Cheryl said...

The OCD makes the non-OCD moments all the sweeter.