We couldn’t be more thankful for your angst-ridden Thanksgiving anecdotes, dear readers. Several helpings of Turkey-Day tales gave us gooseflesh. “Jennifer” told a vivid, nearly livid story, from her youth, of uber-matronly kitchen domination; Mr. Michael Zulauf mused philosophically (and funnily) on his lack of disastrous holiday memories; Baltimore Fishbowl staffer Robert O’Brien confessed he once took a chainsaw to a frozen Superbird. And “Lisa” detailed how she endured a tearful, silverware-slamming family fight in public — later that night, she found solace in classic cinema.
The most conflict flew in winner Tracy Gnadinger’s more serious story of sitting down to enjoy a big, juicy, sugar-soaked holiday dinner in which her doctors had forbidden her to partake. Thank you, Tracy.
I was twenty-two, eligible for the “adult” table even with only ten cousins. We used the good china with reused table cloth, torn at the edges and depicting phony images of pilgrims and Indians. We passed around the macaroni and cheese, my aunt’s infamous oyster stuffing, even my grandpa’s mayonnaise-butchered coleslaw. The only healthy thing on the table was green beans, and even that had bacon bites in it. With no history of diabetes in the family, it wasn’t hard to see where genetics was going.
But I had a choice—pass up all this palatable food for the sake of my health or just have a “bad” day. If they could give up their health for the sake of thanks, then why couldn’t I? I chose to have a “bad” day. Two hours later, only my grandmother and I were left at the table. I hadn’t eaten so much food in one sitting since my diagnosis six months prior. My grandmother edged the pumpkin pie closer to my side of the table. No, I shook my head, admiring the glossy baked pumpkin top and slightly burnt crust. Even the whipped cream was calling my name because there was nothing like pumpkin pie with globs of sugared nothingness on top.
My diabetes wasn’t going to win this battle. How did one more slice hurt? The pie barely made it down my esophagus, the last gulp before the volcano exploded. Two minutes later, I rushed to the only bathroom in my grandparents’ 50’s-style home. There was a line, of course. As soon as I found relief with my head over the toilet, I could hear my teenage cousin yelling to the rest of the family, “Tracy’s throwing up! Everyone, Tracy’s throwing up!” she giggled. Sweating on top of my own vomit, I thought this is what Thanksgiving is really about. Denial. But when I emerged from the bathroom, none of my family members commented on my moment of weakness. Nobody judged me for my high blood sugars, either. Thanksgiving—a feast for genes. –Tracy Gnadinger
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