Thursday, November 22, 2007


I never watch TV except for Project Runway and sometimes Desperate Housewives. But I give thanks to the Thanksgiving sitcom episodes from shows that were great to begin with. Some of my favorites: Cheers the gang gathers at Carla's house where Norm is cooking a huge turkey that won't cook. Diane shows up in a pilgrim outfit trying to bestow her sophisticated version of the holiday on the motley crew. As empty stomachs take over good manners and Carla's special brand of hospitality comes out, a food fight earnestly begins. Mad About You - The cute couple (I forget their names) invite their parents to Thanksgiving dinner. They go through 6 turkeys each one being ruined in one comic way after another. The last turkey gets flung out the open window in a panic by Helen Hunt. Will and Grace - Will, Grace, Jack and Karen commit to visit their individual families before sitting down to a meal together in Grace and Will's apartment. In order to get all the obligations in and over with in record time, they embark on a road trip using a kitchen timer set for one hour at each home. It starts with Karen visiting her husband in jail, and goes on. Each visit is funnier than the other. Grace's visit with her mother leads to her mother doing a "I told you so" dance and just when Jack was going to confront his father about accepting his homosexuality, the timer goes off and with a "Got Go", they all bolt to the next house. The Bob Newhart Show (the series where he is a psychologist with Suzanne Pleshette as his wife, Emily) - goes down as the best Thanksgiving episode ever. Bob's wife goes out of town for the holiday and leaves him and his friends to fend for themselves on Thanksgiving. While watching the football game, they attempt to cook the turkey dinner, getting drunker and drunker as the day goes on. The episode ends with a typical Bob Newhart skit with him on the phone trying to order Chinese food, slurring to the order taker "I want moo, goo, goo, goo". I could throw in the Thanksgiving movie, Scent of A Woman where Pacino takes Chris O'Donnell to New York for Thanksgiving weekend where, among other events, Pacino visits his brother who he hasn't spoken to in years. Sitting at the holiday table, Pacino tells off color jokes and dirty stories while his family tries desperately to get through dinner. The scene ends with Pacino lunging at his nephew, administering a choke hold that nearly kills him. I'm happy to say, my Thanksgivings were never as violent or as funny as any of these shows. So today, after watching the parade, listening to Alice's Restaurant and stuffing my face, I'll probably watch my DVD of King Kong, the original. Not very eventful, but I'll leave the drama to the TV writers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Aunt Alice

Every kid should have an Aunt Alice. This is the aunt who assumes the role of the surrogate mother. When your own mother is too busy being the mom, there is Aunt Alice. My parents were both from Europe and very much not hip. But Aunt Alice understood hip and sometimes even stood up for me against my parent's wishes so that I could be a typical kid. She was a little younger than my own mother, dressed in suits and business dresses and worked in a New York City office. At 12 years old, I considered that the utmost in hip. Alice loved New York. Every few months, she would take my brother and I on sightseeing trips to New York City. She introduced us to museums, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and, her favorite, the Radio City Christmas Show. One of the best parts of the day was when Alice would give my brother and me a couple of nickels and turned us loose at the Horn and Hardart's Automat. She took me to my first performance of the New York City Ballet and my brother to his first Yankee game. She even took me to see the Beatles in Shea Stadium - twice! Always reading, Alice was a wealth of knowledge and interest. She was one of the original bobby soxers who waited on line to see Frank Sinatra in the Paramount. She could discuss current events, argue politics and reminisce about the war years in a way that made you feel so close to the era. It was factual, and fascinating. On Monday morning, Aunt Alice died at the age of 86. She had been in a nursing home for the last three years. At the time I put her there, she had fallen several times and I didn't know what else to do to keep her safe. Although it wasn't easy for her to give up her apartment, she agreed to go because it was best for everyone. During those three years, she never once complained about being there. In fact, she would tell me she was happy there. I believe she was. She enjoyed the company of her friends who visited her, the other residents, and of me. All she wanted was someone to converse with and I know she got that. She had her few minutes of fame when she worked for Dover Publication and they were looking for a grandmother type to appear on the cover of a booklet on family trees. It didn't take much for her to look the part. It came natural. Although she didn't have children, she had surrogates. She had me, my brother and about 10 other "children" who she adopted or adopted her. That was Alice and I am going to miss her terribly.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Mom in the Kitchen

Last week, my mother-in-law came up from Florida to relocate to New Jersey to be near her family. She is 83 years old, and in her life, starting with the Bronx, she has lived in 4 places in New York, 5 in New Jersey and 7 in Florida. Obviously, she is not one to hold sentiments about any one place for any reason. I admire my mother-in-law for not having the fear of moving. Nothing stopped her from selling her home when the market was right or if she tired of the neighborhood. In comparison, I have lived in 4 homes and expect to die in this one (unless I can convince my husband to get an apartment in Manhattan - highly unlikely). So mother-in-law sold her house in Florida, and drove up with my husband. It's interesting how things change when you are the adult. Mom is very respectful of the son who she once pranced onto his baseball field, loudly ordering him home for dinner. Mom doesn't touch the food I have in the refrigerator for fear that I intended it for something other than eating (??). And mom buys toilet paper to use in my bathroom because she doesn't want to use mine up (??). I have forgotten what it is like to have someone cook those meals that only a mom/grandmother cooks. I come home and the comfort food I love is there. I haven't slaved over a stove all day being the mom. Mother-in-law is the mom in the kitchen. Sunday dinners are a little more special because she made them. Although my sauce is good, her sauce is awesome as are her meatballs. Maybe only because it is different from mine. Sunday dinners are the day we all try and be together as a family but when Grandma is cooking, the sauce is a little more special and worth being home for. I am enjoying my new found freedom from kids but for this short time, I am the kid again. Someone is cooking and food shopping for me. She loves it and so do it.