We Are Not the Goldbergs by Sarah Barnett
December 4, 2014 § 2 Comments
Another winning entry in Brevity‘s Holiday Smile contest:
Here’s my mother’s version of my childhood Thanksgivings: “We’d get up early, go to the Macy’s parade, then to Aunt Bess’s for dinner.”
Clearly she lived in an alternate universe where we were the Nelsons, the Cleavers, the Huxtables—ok the Goldbergs—but we never went to any parade. Maybe the Goldbergs went, but for the Barnetts, it would have been too early, too crowded, too cold, we’d catch a cold.
I remember Thanksgiving. We made the journey from Brooklyn to Manhattan by subway, maybe traveling beneath the parade. We’d emerge from darkness into the late afternoon light of the upper west side where my aunt and uncle lived in a modest apartment building. Following the aroma of roasting turkey to their door, we’d crowd into the living room, where end-to end bridge tables were covered with linens and silverware for nine.
A parade of food commenced, opening with DelMonte fruit cocktail presented in gold-rimmed pink crystal champagne glasses.
The floor show took place between courses. Uncle Leo removed his false teeth, producing laughter from everyone until Aunt Lee grumbled, “Enough already, Leo.” For Act II, Uncle Nat produced a fart cushion, which he sat on repeatedly, solemnly and with great dignity, producing first giggles then gales of hysterical laughter, during which my mother always had to rush off to the bathroom.
Mom and I had differing versions of many family events, but I never challenged her Thanksgiving tale. I’d let her have the parade and the lovely vision of the four of us standing on Broadway, waving to Mickey Mouse and Santa. In my head I replay my uncles’ clowning. And on my Thanksgiving table each year, I have the pink champagne glasses.
Sarah Barnett retired to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware from a career in public affairs. She writes essays and short fiction, serves as vice president of the Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild, teaches classes in short story writing and leads “Free Writes” for other writers. Her work has appeared in Delaware Beach Life and other publications.
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