Short Story Sunday: A Thanksgiving Star

I sat down in my favorite chair and looked across at the reported who’d come to interview me about my life. 

He was in his thirties and had that look of someone who’d seen everything, or at least thought he’d seen everything. He asked me about Thanksgiving.

“We never had Thanksgiving at home,” I said. “My mom was from England and didn’t know how to cook, and my dad was from a family with ten kids. Someone was always hosting. Wherever it was we’d pack up the station wagon and drive three or four, six, eight hours to someplace. One year we’d by up in Susanville at the top of the state and the next year we’d be in Los Angeles. My mom can bake, and she still does. She’d make half a dozen pies, and a couple of cakes. My dad would bring a case of imported beer. My sister and I were happy because we could always bring our dog Delilah.”

“Tell me again about the time you have Thanksgiving in Weaverville,” asked the Reporter, who was named Mason.

“That was a crazy week. My Uncle Silas had just remarried and was working for the National Forest Service up in the Trinity Alps, or whatever the mountains are up there. Anyway, he’d just gotten married and wanted to host Thanksgiving. None of us had ever met her, but we were ready to welcome her into the family. Everyone was welcomed in.”

“It sounds like an ideal situation.”

“My family would make the Waltons look like the Sopranos. We accept everyone. I think it must be our sense of humor, and our live and let live attitude. It is engrained in us. We’re just hardwired that way.”

“Tell me about Silas.”

“Silas was scary smart. He knew everything there was about trees, forests, and everything that lived in a forest. It didn’t matter if it was a plant or animal, he knew it all. He also wrote poetry. Awww man that guy had such a beautiful way with words. After he passed on I published a volume of his work.”

“How about his relationships.”

“Silas was handsome in a head turning way. He was also funny. His past girlfriends were always swimsuit models, or hot mountain honeys. But he never married or had any serious relationships. Silas was sort of a player if you know what I mean. My dad would laugh and call his older brother a real dog. I thought that was funny when I was a kid because I didn’t know he was calling his brother a man slut.”

“So tell me about meeting Silas’s wife.”

“Her name was Star. Silas said she was the most fascinating woman he’d ever met. We were all looking forward to meeting her. Well, when we arrives with a car full of kids, pies, a dog, and cakes, most of the family was already there. Delilah ran off to join all of the other dogs. Everyone helped us unpack.

Uncle Silas lived in a large old rambling lodge of a house built by a timber baron back around 1900. Outside he had also set up a few big old tents for the kids to stay the night in if they wanted to. Silas was out on the front porch wearing jeans, a leather vest, and a crisp white dress shirt. Next to him was a woman who was so unusual looking that I stopped and just stared at her, that was until my mom tapped me on the shoulder and told me to cut it out.

The first thing I noticed was that she was not the usual head turning gorgeous fashion model looking tall skinny woman with big fake, well, you know where I’m going. 

Star was short, about five feet tall. Her hair was a honey blonde color – thick and hanging down her back in a thick braid, with more braids wrapped around her head. The bluest eyes I’ve ever seen looked right at me and into my twelve year old soul. Then she smiled a wide grin full of large white teeth. She had a wide face with a sort of big forehead. It wasn’t big as in a tall forehead, but big as in it was a ridge. At first I wondered if something was wrong with her. I’d learned a little bit about genetics watching science and history shows with my parents. But that wasn’t it. Everything was different but it all fit together.

Then Uncle Silias introduces us. Star greets everyone with a hug. She smells like roses and fresh rain. Her hug is like a warm tight blanket and I never want her to let go. The main thing that was so odd was her voice. It was low and gravely like she’d been smoking cigars and drinking whiskey, like since she was a toddler, but it wasn’t bad. It was kind of sexy. I was twelve so I was just starting to explore that concept.

So my sister Beth and I ran off to see our cousins. My parents went off with the adults. The other kids speculated on why Star looked so different, so funny, and so oddly attractive. My cousin Beth thought maybe she was a shaved Bigfoot but we all said no because she was too short. My cousin Matthew said her parents might have been dwarves. We all said no because she was too tall. The only consensus was that we all liked her immediately. Some of the cousins said they’d heard she was the last one alive in her family. Cousin Jerriann said in a quiet voice that she’d heard the Bigfoots deep in the woods had killed all of her family. Jerriann had also heard that Star moved on and got a degree at California State University Humboldt and become an attorney. After that we all compared notes on the chips, dips, and other pre-Thanksgiving snacks available inside.

A few years later, when I was in college, I took an anthropology class. There right on the wall of the lecture hall was a mural of prehistoric man. Or should I say woman, because the honey blonde woman dress in furs looked just like my Aunt Star. Under her image was a tag that said Neanderthal. 

I called my mom from a campus pay phone. This was long before cell phones. My mom told me, “Uncle Silas was so in love with Star. I’d never seen a man so in love. He accepted her, just as everyone accepted me. I know I was just from England, but darling, your dad’s family is unique. Your Aunt Tracy family were Chinese rail builders back in the 1800’s. Your Uncle Farhad is Persian. Your Aunt Star just happens to be a Neanderthal”

“But wait, Neanderthals died off 40,000 years ago.”

“Not true. Pockets of them lived all over the world. Some still do. They’re not all that different than we are. Did you know that anyone with blue eyes has some Neanderthal DNA in them?”

“But, this is astounding.”

“I know. We all thought Uncle Silas was the most shallow man in the world, then he married Star. On the other hand, how could anyone not love Star. She is just great. You know, she is still alive. She an Silas are both turned 90 years old this year. The only thing wrong with her are her terrible table manners, but hey, nobody is perfect. She isn’t a noisy eater, just really really messy. We can live with that. Plus she knows how to cook meat, and finds the best mushrooms and wild greens out in the forests.”

“She is a Neanderthal.”

“Come on, it isn’t like she is a chimpanzee or a Sasquatch. Humans and Neanderthals are both humans, you know, they’re people. They can breed. They’re like, a Golden Retriever and a German Shepard getting together and living happily ever after, or maybe more like a German Shepard and a Wolf.”

“This is just crazy.”

“Isn’t it. The year after that Thanksgiving was at my Aunt Patty’s house in Beverly Hills. Now that was a year for stories. Let me tell you. You won’t believe some of the stuff from that Thanksgiving. It was absolutely the weirdest and most unexpected day ever.”

“More than meeting Star?”

I just laughed. This guy has no idea what the true meaning of family, or Thanksgiving, or weird. No idea.

~ end

Thank you for reading my new 2021 Thanksgiving story Thanksgiving Star. I wrote it this morning over coffee, after making my shopping list for this Thanksgiving. I will be hosting family and friends at my house this year. We have all been vaccinated and like our story tellers family – all are welcome at our table.

Forgive me for any typos. The WordPress “blocks” make it almost impossible for me to edit anything, I will figure out, I hope, sometime in the next few years, how to figure it out. I believe their is no figuring this one out for me.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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