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 Reply
    3 weeks 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 Charlie Rose. There were those around the table who knew him growing up and those who met him as adults. From my many years in NYC, I was the only one who was not surprised. Fortunately, talk of him did not sully our T-day, but was reserved for the Friday night oyster roast.
    But, to my important point about commenting, am so happy for you and Blondie’s re: “The Kid’s” impending “gifts” to you. My identical twin sister and I were the first grandchildren (we’re now 68). It’s been a wonderful ride with my younger sis (by ten minutes). We’re mainly a Duke fam, and she married into mainly a UNC bunch, but familial love conquers. You guys will marvel at some of the twin things that happen. We two are very different people, but the connection is strong. Our first children were born three weeks apart. Her son enrolled as a freshman at UNC, and my daughter at Duke a week later. It is possible to bridge the divide! Best wishes to you all for a continued terrific holiday season. You’re getting the best presents one could ask for. Being a grandparent is amazing (you and Blondie start eating your Wheaties in anticipation)!

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      Our son-in-law “Pastor Danny” is a twin (brother – sister) so he knows the ins/outs of “twinning”. No experience whatsoever on our side. We know its two girls – Ruthie & Scarlett (aka “Scout”).
      .
      It will be a Grand Adventure for all concerned. I confess to worrying that I will “have a favorite”.

  • 58 Wolf Kennel Reply
    3 weeks 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 would not get along well politically, but I think you might misjudge both of us :>))
    Go to the back of the University Club parking lot by the tennis courts. Also hoping John Cerqueira of 9/11 fame will be joining us. Also hoping for a good game, and you know what “good” means !! Go Pack !!

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      I don’t think I misjudge either of you politically. Coach goes out of his way to “be nice”. I tried that. It didn’t work.
      .
      Afraid I don’t know Mr Cerqueira or his involvement with 9/11. Look forward to learning.
      .
      I was a bit concerned you would be “on cloud nine” over the Arizona W… but then came Northern Iowa. Oops. I suspect DD will revitalize your euphoria. 2:30 by the tennis courts.

  • RAZ Reply
    3 weeks 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

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      “We” greatly overestimate how much mainstream liberals actually “know”. They are told how smart they are… then told what they need to know. Which leaves out A LOT.

  • RAZ Reply
    3 weeks 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

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      I warned you. Ask your son if he can tell you who the following are… Lois Lerner… Valerie Jarrett… Debbie Waserman-Schultz… Saul Alinsky.
      .
      Then inform him you are revising your will first thing tomorrow AM. DON’T… but see what he says. 🙂

    • ultraviolet Reply
      2 weeks ago

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

  • BobH Reply
    3 weeks 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!

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      HAA! I knew someone would think that. Nope just a Google image… but our extended family holidays looked like that.

  • Jon Sasser Reply
    3 weeks 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 three years ago at the Wytheville Wendy’s, on our way to Lexington for the Denny Crum/Joe B. Hall Classic. Today, we are back on the road for his tournament against Xavier, Kansas State, and Arizona State. The team has graciously invited traveling parents to join them for dinner. And, oh yeah, we’re in the Pilgrims’ favorite place — Las Vegas.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Blondie, the Kid, Danny, and the Twins.

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      Jon, your fellow BLSays readers don’t know that Li’l Dude is now, what, 6’6″ and a small forward for George Washington Univ. … as our “Kid” is several weeks from welcoming TWO “Kids” of her own. … Tempus Fugit Indeed!
      .
      I have this vision of you continuing your Ironman Training with a 5-mile jaunt down The LV Strip followed by 50 laps in the pool at The Bellagio… 🙂

  • CNR Reply
    3 weeks 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 their own.

    Molly’s arriving Houston from Pomona College, same as when she left. Totally in love with her Savior and all peoples. When we spoke on the phone we both broke down with the joy of being together again if only for three days. You are one of her favorites. Recall, she was your hostess while you were here.

    Also, recall, Pat hid from you with illness back then. He did not want to get double teamed. He has cleansed himself of his union (UAW) brain-washing from International Harvester. He is going to watch the Ohio State-Michigan game here with Greg since he says Greg doesn’t behave as does the rest of the worthless fans from Meeshigin.

    He knows I am pulling for Wiscy in the Big Ten Ch game. He assumes that the Bucks will win in Ann Arbor because Jimmy Harbaugh has burned out another program.

    Pat loves Greg. When I ask him how that can be since he loves UM, he laughs and tells me that he is the only sane one. We all love Pat and wink around the room when he goes on a Bucks sing-along. I already have several of the gang ready to sing, “There is no beer in heaven” and “Were gonna fight fight for Ioway” or “I’m from Ioway, Ioway, that’s where the tall corn grows.’ TINBIH is an Iowa staple.

    Per usual, I pray for all of your readers and commenters. During these final years, you all have been there for me to replace so many of my guys who have passed on over that Rainbow Bridge and waiting for the rest of us. Thank you.

    Enjoy the game and Go Wolves!!!!!!!!

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      Sir, I believe you summed up all my columns and our special friendship in those comments! No mention of my favorite “Putterer”?
      .
      I have indeed declared myself a Badger Faithful regardless of the outcome next week in Indy. All those big boys from all those Wiscy dairy farms stick their hands in the dirt and get after it. … “On Wisconsin… On Wisconsin . Fight on for her name…” As I noted, once I developed a taste for cheese curds, the rest was easy…
      .
      As I have declared politics off-limits Saturday afternoon, I suspect BK will interrogate me about YOU. You have him quite fascinated and he only knows about 10% of The Life & Times of “Coach”.
      .
      Latest word from Kid is “around the 15th”. Both weights and positioning is perfect at this point. She expects Scarlett aka “Scout” will be first “out” with Ruthie not far behind.
      .
      Whats the local over/under for Sumlin surviving… and/or Jimbo riding in as Aggie Savior du Jour?

      • CNR Reply
        3 weeks ago

        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 life.

        It seems only yesterday when I first held my twelve in the hospital. Several, I spent the first year changing diapers, feeding, and running them around and round parks and malls. Until they came along, I was afraid to hold a baby. Lucky you.

        I would love to have had BK play for me. As with my players of ’52 on, we would remain great friends to this day. He loves and is loyal to New Bern, State, his Savior. What more could a man want In a friend? Do we have differences in some of our thinking? Of course. So does my love and I. She couldn’t care less if there is a game..She would rather be puttering in the kitchen, garden, or sewing room. Yet she will sit with me during the game or games which are of interest to me. She has such a keen mind that she has become an amazing coach. In this home the sound is never on. The screen is dark on Sundays. She loved my games in the day.

        Have a great weekend and game. Wish I was there with you and BK.

        Also, CowDog would be a good one to pray for you. We are both in tight with Padre Pio. Roger, his dad, and I were close. We lost Rog too, too soon. He was in the top 1/2 of one present of coaches who taught his system to Hall of Famers who are known to thousands.

        I

  • TarHeel69 Reply
    3 weeks 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.

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      To some more than others I suspect. 🙂
      .
      Always fun to “do The Carter” w/ BK. He is “a man among Wolves” and eschews the rarified suite life for seats on the 45 under the overhang. MORE IMPORTANTLY, his parking spot is closer to the front gate than Bob Beamon’s broad jump.

  • DM Carpenter Reply
    3 weeks 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.

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      Our annual HVAC inspection was today and all systems are “looking good”. Much to be “Thankful” for. Blondie finally resolved an iTunes issues on her phone… ANOTHER “Thankful” … 🙂

  • NCSU68Grad Reply
    3 weeks 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 well and I carried on and mentored under him and we are quite comfortable, it was the best wedding present ever….think teach and fish and you will understand.
    I would add the following for the mixed ABC group….Dan Kane and SACS recording and email to Ms. Folt. That has more intrigue than LaVar Ball and shoplifting and Trump.
    I choose to think of my self as the child that achieved the ultimate goal of my parents….not an ONLY child. They realized that a sibling would be inferior and that they did not want the second to be ever compared to my exploits and achievements. Had we been able to afford it, I probably should have had childhood counseling.
    Your gatherings were similar except, knowing the palatial residences of a debutante that my BIL married from “Kinston”, ours were a little more modest.
    I always try to get my younger BIL traversing down a path that will include Trump. Once he “bites”, I just sit back and listen..
    The real zinger for those who debate such this year would be…..
    You know….you are absolutely right. Trump has been a disaster. Since your net worth is up probably 10%, I know that you would not want to spend it on a new Vette and the extra guns and vacations that we did this year. To sooth your conscience and also show your truly liberal ideals, sell off 10% of your portfolio and donate it to the Jimmy V or Dean Smith foundation. I’ll do a 15% match to the V Foundation in your honor. I have suggested that several times this year to certain enlightened individuals….. no takers to date.
    I wanted to send a sympathy card to a retired liberal retired female educator in Richmond. She thinks that Charlie Rose ghost writes for God . My wife saw me rummaging in her card stock and forbid me to do such….but we both laughed our rears off and agreed she will need counseling. What a great Turkey 🦃 Day gift. Hope you and Blondie have a good TDay…the lines were long outside the Honey shop in Crossroads shopping center today….

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      Picking up our H-Baked Ham on Tues AM is now a 4-year tradition for me. They have off-duty LEOs directing traffic… QUITE the production.

  • Bob Kennel Reply
    3 weeks ago

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

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      I will wear my Wisconsin “Bucky Badger” sweatshirt which looks like “Tuffy” is you don’t look too closely.

  • Bob Kennel Reply
    3 weeks 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 !!

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      I just might do that BK… normally I would play my usual Scrooge re: “going to a game” but this has a different twist to it.
      .
      Lets DO IT! with our ONE RULE … ZERO POLITICS! … 2:30 Univ Club lot. 🙂

  • RAZ Reply
    3 weeks 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

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      EXCELLENT IDEA! Should be a Universal Rule. All in favor say AYE!

  • Doug Reply
    3 weeks 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.

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      I look forward to a broad sampling of reader “traditions”. The stereotype from which the Clark Griswolds Holiday movies were taken have to exist, don’t they ??

      • Doug Reply
        3 weeks ago

        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.

        • BobLee Reply
          3 weeks ago

          I think Kinston might have had 1-2 of “them” (Repubs) in the late 50s-early 60s. Everyone knew who they were… not unlike the 1-2 Mormons around town. A town quite content with every stereotype of strict racial segregation, and 99% Democrat. OH MY!

  • unctarheel1984 Reply
    3 weeks ago

    Happy Thanksgiving

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