Notes on Thanksgiving in Seattle, November 27, 2008 Pt. II

Chris met me at the airport in a new disguise to my eyes: a full beard jutted out from his face, and it came equipped with a mustache almost dandily curled upward. I told him he looked a bit like Doug Martsch from Built to Spill (not really the mustache though, just the beard combined with my brother's overall features), and Chris says that Martsch hasn't had a beard for a while. Such trivial blather works as a comfort saying between us, not as any form of code but just the way we converse. Unlike with many families or siblings separated by distance, there is no awkward "getting to know you again" stuff between Mark and Chris and I when we get back together again. I cannot speak for the other two, but I know that I am my most at ease around either of them, even more so than with Jen, and especially more so than with any of my quartet of parents (but "no disrespect though," as Jon Stewart would say in a mock Bronxian tone).

Within minutes, we are in Chris' car to head home to see Chelsea and possibly eat Turkey Day dinner, depending on how the turkey is doing. I have a surprise waiting in the car for me: Django Bongo, Chris and Chelz' newest addition to the household, a rather large, supposed husky-golden retriever mix, though I see nothing but German shepherd in his features and especially his eyes. He is a lovely pup, but he is almost deathly afraid of strangers, and sometimes never gets over his shyness. He is twirling around in the backside trying in vain to cram his too-large body into the too-small area on the floor behind the driver's seat, which leaves his left back leg straddling the seat while he seeks to jam his nose underneath the backseat. I say his name gently to try and reassure, but all this gets is quick looks of fear and then a return to his twirling, leg-catching and nose-jamming routine. Luckily for the sweet boy, it doesn't take us long to get home, and he then gets to open his shyness act on a larger stage.

It is grand to see Chelsea again, and I greet her as my sister, not as my brother's wife. I have always thought the world of her, and never as someone that I had to tolerate to hang around my brother. We have all been saddled with significant others who are more of an appendage than they are a missing and necessary piece of the complicated puzzle of loneliness. This is not the case here, and I find her as vital to my relationship to my brother Chris as I do Marcie to my relationship with my brother Mark. I hope that they see how Jen works the same way for me.

It is going to be a couple more hours until dinner, but the two of them had brined the turkey the day before and did a lot of prep work, so it all goes relatively smoothly on the way to an awesome dinner. Just being there was going to make any dinner awesome, whether we had turkey or ordered Chinese takeout, but it is nice when the food is actually great. While we talk and catch up while the food is being finished, I take every opportunity to try and win over Django, having already found a great fan in their older dog, the beautiful Sihva, on previous visits. By dinner time, I will have only been able to pet his nose and head a handful of times, and he will absolutely not get his body and closer to me than that.

Chelsea has a running battle with his mom on the phone over how long to cook a turkey. Lenore insists that four hours is necessary; Chelz believes she can do it in a shorter time. (At least, this is what I was perceiving on my end of things.) As it turns out, the temperature is more than adequate to remove the turkey at Chelz' projected time, though several other dishes need to be either cooked or reheated before we can proceed with the dining portion of the program. We get to eat around 6:30, and everything is great, stocked with the usual suspects of Thanksgiving fare, but given a twist in this particular kitchen. Chelz asks us if the turkey is too dry, but Chris and I couldn't disagree more... the turkey is exceedingly juicy and delicious, probably more so than at any other dinner I have had except when Leif deep-fried one a few years back. And Chelsea has definitely won the time-temp battle too, as Lenore calls to say that she overcooked hers at four hours, and it came out far too dry. It is a small but delicious victory in Seattle.

Django started to lose a tad bit of shyness when I decided to allow the kids to assist me in finishing off my second plate. Just a few scraps of turkey each, but it clearly helps in de-icing the frosty relations between visiting uncle and new family pup. By evening's end, I am able to skritch behind his ears for a few seconds and he has started to come up to me when I call his name. But no more. That will have to wait until tomorrow. But I will win him over. Oh, yes... I will win him over... Django Bongo Johnson will be my buddy.

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