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Talking Turkey on Turkey Day

A multiple sclerosis Thanksgiving post

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“Over the meadow and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go…”  Lydia Maria Child

In my world the song goes something like this-

“Over the bridge and around the city to my cousin’s house we go…”

And by “we,” I mean multiple sclerosis and I.

Yes, I am traveling this turkey day and am looking forward to it.  I’m going to my cousin’s house where he and his lovely girlfriend host a bunch of us crazy deSousa’s.ID-100187955

Unfortunately, as our family grows, not every member will be able to join us.  And this past year we had to say goodbye to our patriarch and so the holiday will include some sadness and memories.

But still, we are a loud, fun, wild lot.

And we span every age decade from only a few months old to somewhere in the eighties.  I’m relieved to report that I fall in the middle age wise which is a good place to be.  I’m young at heart but old enough to get away with being crotchety and persnickety.

Of course, multiple sclerosis is coming with me.  This damn beast is way too clingy- it insists on coming with me everywhere!

Since it will be a long day, my MS meds are coming with me as well.   There are the achy body meds, the moody mood swing meds, the obnoxious bladder meds, the “I really need an energy boost” meds- also known as legal speed and the “I’m so freaking tired but can’t fall asleep” meds.   They will all be in attendance.

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But MS or not, meds are not enough to bring to a holiday party; unless they are good meds of course.

What to bring to a family holiday dinner gets a little tricky for me due to an innocent little incident that happened several Thanksgivings ago.  Flash back over 15 years when I made a gorgeous apple pie for this same holiday.

I had made it before and it was delicious.  And I really made it too- no heating up a Mrs. Smith’s for me.  I peeled, cored and sliced apples and made a yummy crumb topping.  I might have cheated on the crust but still, this was a good pie, baked with love.

Problem was, on the two hour drive on that super cold day I put my pie in the trunk of my car which allowed the topping to freeze and then harden to rock hard proportions.  The topping was so hard that my cousin refused to serve it, afraid that one of his guests might sue him if they broke their teeth on it.

Dental bills are expensive.

I said he was overreacting and he pointed out that he couldn’t even cut into my pie to serve it.  To prove his point, he even tried cutting it with a chain saw, to no avail.eddiechainsaw0002

Since that day, he has refused to allow me to cook anything, even boxed macaroni and cheese which I have mastered.  Apparently, that is not an appropriate Thanksgiving side dish although I will be sitting with a six year old at this dinner who would disagree.

So what does one super exhausted relative bring to a holiday celebration where they are not allowed to cook?  I am bringing a box of chocolates and a bottle of Portuguese wine.  (Who am I kidding?  The wine is for me.  Come to think of it, the chocolate is too.)

What would you bring my friends?

Here’s what I decided.  I am also bringing a Star Wars floor puzzle and a holiday version of the Memory game- hopefully, if I remember to pack it.

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I know these are not the normal Thanksgiving accompaniments but I thought it over and decided perhaps the best gift I can give my hosts is to stay out of their way in the kitchen.  My MS, glass of wine and I can find a quiet corner where I can keep busy by visiting all the relatives, holding the new baby in the family and hanging out with the young ones by completing a puzzle and playing some friendly yet serious Memory competitions- holiday style.

Maybe these gifts will help keep the young ones out of the kitchen and hence, I think I am bringing the best gift of all.  Not just my charm and sweetness but my ability to sit and stay out of the way.  MS and I have gotten very good at that.

As long as I have my meds!ID-100260170

As you know my friends my blogs are tongue in cheek.  And while the pie story is true and my cousin is serious about my not cooking due to the pie story, I am really excited to see him, his lovely girlfriend who is an amazing cook, and the rest of my family.  And in this holiday of celebrating being grateful I am grateful for them and for lots of other things too; God, all my family, all my friends, living where I do, the Rolling Stones, classic rock in general, the Boston Bruins and many, many other things. 

I am also super, super grateful to you my readers and wanted to give you a gift of thanks as well this holiday.  Since I can’t even begin to think about bringing each of you pies that may or may not break your teeth, I thought I would close with some bad holiday jokes for you to share with your family. 

Advice-they may work better if you share them after your family has entered into a turkey/potato/dessert coma-like state and are only half paying attention anyway.ID-100253345

Why did they let the turkey join the band?  Because he had drumsticks

Why can’t you take a turkey to church?  Because they use FOWL language

If the pilgrims were alive today, what would they be famous for?  Their age

What kind of music did the pilgrims like?  Plymouth rock

What do you get if you cross a turkey with an evil spirit?  A poultrygeist

What is a pumpkins favorite sport?  Squash

What happened when the turkey got into a fight?  He got the stuffing knocked out of him

What smells best at Thanksgiving dinner?  Your nose

Which side of the turkey has the most feathers?  The outside

What did the turkey say before it was roasted? Wow, I’m stuffed

And if these stuffy (stuffy-get it?) jokes don’t help you through the holiday then you can amaze your family with this factual but little known Pilgrim trivia that everyone should know but doesn’t.  The Pilgrims did not land in Plymouth first.  They stopped in Provincetown, MA and hung out there for a bit before venturing on to Plymouth which they could see across the bay.

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Don’t believe me?  What do you think the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown is for???  Like modern day settlers, everyone likes to visit Provincetown but only hearty souls grow up there!kp beach

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Happy Thanksgiving my friends!

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Jokes courtesy of jokes4us.com and ibtimes.com

Provincetown photos by Provincetown settler Kristin Perry

Picture of my cousin with the chainsaw courtesy of the train wreck that is my old photo album

Other images in order of appearance-

Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of supakitmod at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of debspoons at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Could Be Minutes, Could Be Days

An MS’er tackles a blizzard

In my world, cold is better than hot (as long as cold includes a nice cup of scalding hot tea,) and snow is better than humidity. Seems I remember in the past, losing hot water and having to take an ice cold shower before heading off to work. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t hell.

More recently and AMSEML (after MS entered my life,) I lost hot water again and attempted the cold shower. It was summer and so while I was not looking forward to it, I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. It was.

The icy water was not refreshing. It felt more like sharp edged icicles stabbing me all over. It hurt so much that I wasn’t able to breathe. I kept telling myself to breathe, what was wrong with me that I wasn’t breathing? It was too much and I burst from my shower covered in soap.

 

Flash forward to storm prep for the blizzard of 2013– the storm that was to arrive only two weeks after a previously predicted snow storm never showed up. I love winter and had eagerly awaited this one, the winter the Farmers’ Almanac promised would be cold and snowy.

The reality is that what I love about the season is being toasty warm and drinking tea while watching the lovely snow fall from my window. I didn’t doubt the blizzard predictions and even enjoyed monitoring them on the nightly news. But no one, no matter how prepared you are, seriously appreciates what a lack of power means on a 20 degree day, at least for more than a few hours.

I bought the batteries and bottled water. I watched the weather reports. As the wind kicked up late in the afternoon before the blizzard, I plugged in my electric blanket to warm my bed up before the expected power outages. Just before nine it happened; the power was gone and so was the immediate future of further electrically generated heat. Since I had pre-warmed my bed, and was exhausted as always, I drifted off to sleep.

Morning and frigid air came quickly. When I awoke, I buried deep under my covers and rested there for another hour. I tried to flood my brain with positive self talk.

You knew power outages were likely.

It’s not like you are going to die from the cold, you’re still inside.

So it will suck for a bit, so what, that’s life.

There’s no way to know how long this will last. It could be minutes, it could be days.

Get up and get moving, you’ll have to at some point.

When I accepted that cold or no cold, I couldn’t justify laying in bed all day, I crawled from my cocoon and began to layer up. Me, the girl who has never, ever worn hats since rapidly removing the ones my mom insisted I wear on my walk to grade school, (removing the hat as soon as our house was out of sight-hopefully enough time has passed that I won’t be grounded for admitting this,) put on a hat.

It was a miracle I even found a hat in my house. (I think it must have come in the pretty scarf/glove/hat Christmas gift set several holidays before, the scarf and gloves I do use).

I layered on anything I could possibly think of; undershirt, turtleneck, sweater, sweatshirt, sweatpants, three pairs of socks. Where oh where did my leg warmers from the eighties go? I layered up so much that I looked and walked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters.

 

Then I realized I had to pee. My vow to all those reading these words is to never, ever again silently make fun of people who have those soft, vinyl padded toilet seat covers. I may even buy one, if only to use during cold weather power outages.

Once I recovered from that shock, I wobbled my padded self and my blankets to where I could be productive in spite of the circumstances, the sofa. Wrapped in my Boston Bruins thermal blankie (still one of the best Christmas gifts eva!), I tried to decide how to spend the arctic day. I was determined not to use the blizzard as an excuse to fall off my “get fit” plan.

I could exercise. But no, I needed to save the treasured batteries on the Wii Fit board and there was no tv anyway. How about outside to shovel? No point, the snow was still coming down and there would be no way to warm up when I was done. I could just move around my house but hauling all those blankets and layers seemed dangerous.

I insisted I would at least eat healthy and hydrate properly. I had even prepared for that- buying produce and rinsing it before the storm so that I could make myself a salad and eat fruit so as not to falter on my plan.

But that wasn’t happening. Everything was so frosty there was no way I was sinking my teeth into an ice cold apple or orange or even attempting to put together a salad. And the water was ice cold too. I did manage a banana for breakfast but that was the end of eating healthy.

After that I went to the snacks; easy to open, not cold to bite into. One may wonder why I had snacks in the house in the first place. Remember, there was a blizzard coming and my “get fit” plan is taking the baby steps route.

Still trying to be somewhat productive, I thought I would use my laptop battery to get some writing done. But no, between MS and the freezing air, my fingers were not inclined to cooperate.

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What I missed most was that scalding cup of tea I so treasure. So much so, that when due to a dangerously low amount of wax I needed to blow out one candle, I fell into a dangerously euphoric state. Picking up the glass covered candle, I realized how hot it was.

As I tightly grasped the bottle with both hands, I almost felt it was a mug of tea I was holding. I popped out of my reverie before I gulped the wax itself and made the best of the situation by cuddling the bottle against my face, neck, hands and arms until its warmth was gone.

Soon the MS aches ramped up and the cold went from being unpleasant to excruciating. At some point it turned dark again and I shuffled back to my cocoon of bedding, hat and all.

I was luckier than most. By the next morning, the power was back, 36 hours after it went out; much, much better than what some folks were dealing with.

 

Here is what the storm taught me. The best of intentions can often go awry if something bigger than you has other plans. Like say, God, or storm fronts, or multiple sclerosis.

Sometimes you just have to give in and wait out what is holding you back, even if it could be minutes or could be days.

Controlled cold is better than uncontrolled heat. Controlled heat is better than uncontrolled cold. And, in spite of this frigid, miserable Saturday, I stand by uncontrolled cold being better than uncontrolled heat. This way, I can still whine in August.

And lastly, what I learned most, I need to start looking for vinyl toilet seat covers…..

 

Image courtesy of [digitalart] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net