Our First Feast

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“I doubt if our parents care what we do, or anything about us at this point,” my brother Val told me. It was November of 1878. I had just turned nineteen and he was twenty. They’d moved to San Francisco, leaving us behind in Sacramento. The house they’d left for us was like a rabbit warren of rooms. Our brother Aaron, aged twenty five, was married and living a mile away in his own brand new Italianate mansion. The eldest two (Max and Andy) had long moved on and were now in San Francisco setting up their glorious careers.

They’d sold the big house we’d grown up in, which burned down as soon as we’d cleared out. I often wondered about that, considering we had been a large family of Vampires and didn’t always do things the same was as everyone else. Our (mine and Val’s) house was built in 1869 with a lot of rooms with no purpose and tall stairs from the sidewalk up to the front door in case it flooded. We had a front porch, a back yard with a few rose bushes, and not much else. It was plain and un-charming.

Val and I were determined to give this house charm. We decorated our modest home with used furnishings and a lot of green and cream colored paint.

After that we decided to do what most young people would do and have a party.

“Should it be all Vampires?” I had to ask.

Val shrugged, “No. We can invite others. We will have to warn our fanged friends to keep to themselves and only drink from bottles we planned to keep well hidden in our kitchen.

I told him not to invite all ladies and he started to argue with me.

“NO,” I said. “You are not going to turn my home into your own personal whore house.”

My brother looked at me as if I’d slapped him in the face. “I would never,” he said. “Never.”

I held my shoulders back and my head high. “Valentine, I will never judge you or be like some warm blooded prude, but I expect a certain amount of modesty and decorum from you.”

“Fine. I will allow you to see my guest list, as I expect you to show me your guest list.”

“Agreed,” I said. “What about food?”

“We need food?”

“Of course we do.”

“We don’t cook. We hardly eat. We don’t have domestics.”

“We could hire a cook,” I said.

“We could.”

“Where would we find one?”

“We could put out a post. Cook wanted for fashionable party. Or we could find Constantine. He knows everyone.”

“And he is always fashionable.”

Constantine was both a Vampire and extremely fashionable but he had just jumped on a train to travel east, then take a boat to Europe to buy art. So we put up our flyer and waited. Soon a small man named Orlando George St. Cloud came to our door. He said he had cooked for the royalty of Europe, the Emperors of China, and the highest of Sacramento high society. We didn’t really believe him but we hired him on the spot.

The night of our party Mr. St. Cloud fixed:

Stewed Eel

Filet of Sturgeon with brown butter and tarragon

Curried Crawdads with spinach

Roasted Capon with creamed trout sauce

Roasted potatoes

Rat tail soup

Onion and walnut tart

Fried chicken feet with olives

Orange milk pudding

Apple pie

Fried frog legs with smoked trout and fiddle head fern sauce.

Roast beef

Head cheese

Blood pudding

Wild lettuce salad

Tomales Bay Oysters on the half shell

Fried eggs with wild mushrooms and boiled wheat berries

Pears poached in wine and honey

Toast points with river clams and fresh butter

Meatballs with wild dill made with ingredients of unknown origin. 

Marrow bones with sage and sherry sauce.

We also managed to acquire copious amounts of alcohol.

Fifty four guests arrived. Nobody went hungry. Twenty were female. Thirty four were male. Twelve, including Val and I were Vampires.

Of course the party was a success. Val did not sleep alone. I watched the sunrise with a dozen people in my garden before going inside, drawing the curtains and sleeping for the next two days. Mr. St. Cloud brought in a crew to clean and lock up.

For the next thirty years Mr. St. Cloud cooked for us when we needed it. He also taught us to cook. He told us, “One day I shall be gone and you will be at a loss.”

I learned to cook everything except the rat tail soup. I never cared for eel. Many of the dishes made me sick but I learned to cook them anyway. Eventually Val also learned to cook, and he even attended classes. We both became experts in cooking for Vampires such as us. We don’t live on blood alone.

From then on Val and I have both welcomed guests of a wide variety to our homes to celebrate friendship and love.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and welcome in the holiday season (which started on Halloween.)

Cheers to all,

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Short Story Sunday: A Ray of Hope (A Thanksgiving Story)

Thanksgiving is in Tahoe this year. My husband Justin’s family has a large beach front cabin. It is a 5,000 square foot cabin and two other smaller A frames within walking distance. Yes, they’re insanely rich, at least to me. They’re also incredible loving and giving and have taken me into their family as one of their own.

My mom left when I was five, taking my twin baby brother and sister with her. Dad said she said she was bored with her life. Bored with my dad and bored with me. I only saw her once after that. She’d poisoned the minds of my siblings by telling them that my dad was abusive. Her new husband gladly went along and encouraged it. My brother is now a successful motivational speaker. My sister is a teacher. I don’t talk to them. They don’t want to talk to me, but they like to talk about me, or somebody they say is me. I don’t care anymore.

When I was growing up Thanksgiving were small, like my grandparent’s two bedroom house – Just my dad, Grandpa and Grammy, and Uncle Ray. We’d gather around the kitchen table in Grammy’s kitchen and have a feast on old chairs covered with yellow vinyl. The table would be covered with turkey, green bean casserole, jellied cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with little marshmallows browned on top. Everything except the turkey came out of a can except the wine. The wine was from a box with ice cubes. It was great.

Uncle Ray lived with Grandpa and Grammy. He believed that at the age of 15 he was abducted by aliens and taken for a blinding fast tour of the universe and Planet X. Ray believed that Jesus was protecting bigfoot, unicorns and other rarely seen creatures so that when mankind finally killed itself off that those were the creatures who would rule the earth. A great gray wolf would lead dwarves and elves out from their underground kingdoms to live in peace. Aliens from space would set up trade routes to earth and help the new found order prosper.

Despite his weirdness Uncle Ray was accepted into UC Berkley and managed to obtain a degree in Political Science. With his knowledge of politics he began working on his plan for a new world order he’d build along with Jesus and the Bigfoots and elves.

Yes, Uncle Ray was nuts but I adored him. My dad protected him. My grandparents accepted him. The university where he occasionally taught a course tolerated him. He never married so I was the only child there for the holidays.

At night a few hours after pie and watching “Meet Me in St. Louis”, Ray and I would go outside. He’d grab a turkey leg and I’d take a wing. We’d munch on our turkey while Ray pointed out constellations and tell me about his time with the aliens and his love for Jesus.

Ray would always take my hand and solemnly tell me, “Jenna, what I’m telling you is real. I’m not crazy.” Then we’d go inside and have turkey races with some funky wind-up toys my Grandpa got for us. We’d laugh until our sides hurt.

My grandparents and Ray are gone now. Grandpa died in his sleep the year I graduated from college. Grammy had a stroke a few months later while at a prayer group. Three years ago Ray went hiking in Death Valley one spring and vanished. The rangers found his backpack, hiking boots and an empty water bottle. There was a note that said, “Tell Jenna that I love her.”

I still have the note.

Thanksgiving with my family was never fancy or exciting but I knew I was loved.

Right after I graduated away from college my dad remarried. I met my husband Justin and Thanksgiving dishes no longer involved food from cans or vinyl chairs.

This year dad and his wife Gracie went to Montana to visit friends for Thanksgiving. I knew I’d miss them but wished them a good time.

As Justin and I drove up into the mountains I thought about Ray as I looked out the car at the forests. Over the river and through the woods… When I was 16 Ray and I would drive up to the mountains to see the stars. I’d drive. He never learned how. In the cool summer nights we’d stand in a clearing at 8,000 feet and watch the endless show of zillions of stars and watch for shooting stars and satellites. Ray would tell me about the aliens who’d be back to get him. He’d tell me about how the ancient Greeks would navigate ships and come to America to visit. He’d tell me about planets that were inhabited by people so beautiful that our eyes would explode if we looked at them. He’d tell me that he’d been in love with a girl once and kissed her under the stars but she killed herself. He said he’d see her again. The aliens said they had taken her just before her soul was lost. Uncle Ray said to never be sad. He also told me over and over that he wasn’t crazy.

“What are the thinking about?” Justin startled me out of my reverie.

“My Uncle Ray. I miss him.”

Justin put his hand on mine. “I know honey, I know.”

Thanksgiving was spectacular. The food was amazing, the company was wonderful, the day was perfect. I’m blessed to be married into such a great family.

A few hours after dinner, after football and a lot of other fun, I took Justin by the hand and led him to the kitchen. I got myself a smoked turkey wing and gave Justin a leg, then poured two glasses of wine, minus the ice cubes and took him outside to watch the stars.

We talked about what fun we’d had that day. Then we talked about starting our own family, maybe trying to start that week.

A fireball sailed across the sky. I couldn’t figure out what it was. Maybe a meteorite?

Justin held my hand and said, “It’s your Uncle Ray.”

I think it was.

 

~ End

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Shopping List for a Vampire Thanksgiving

Cheese of all kinds

New candle tapers

Cinnamon

And Poet’s Blood

Cloves

And Onions

Marrow Bones

And nice red wine

California Zinfandels plus Chardonnay

Swiss Chard and Dark Green Kale

Deep red apples

Winter squash

Blood Oranges

And a Turkey for our Werewolf friends.

A good port

A nice Bourbon

And mulled blood cider

With the warm scent of fresh baked bread and pie for the ghost

And blessings on all for friendship and love

And joy that we can all sit together

In peace and good company.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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